Closer Than They Think!!

by Dennis McNannay, Real People For Real Change

Ask anyone, Democrats have an uncontrollable urge to spend beyond their (our) means. In their pursuit for social justice, the Democrats will dedicate whatever funds necessary to achieve what in their minds would be a perfect society. Only in the last five years has they started doubting that our ability to solve society’s problems is proportional to the tax dollars our government dedicates to social programs. In too many cases funding has become a substitute for personal responsibility.

Republicans, on the other hand, have pursued policies that are equally flawed. While doing an admirable job reducing the overall tax burden for some Americans in the 80s, they managed to spend more than the difference. All this to support an arms race that never would have been authorized if our intelligence community had shared the true facts about the Soviet economy and military establishment with the proper congressional oversight committees.

What is even more galling is that president Reagan, the supreme proponent of personal responsibility, never submitted anything close to a balanced budget for congressional approval. In fact, in his eight years as president every budget he submitted EXCEEDED the final version approved by congress. Someone once said you should lead by example.

Where does that leave us?

Looking beyond the political rhetoric there is evidence that our government is moving in the right direction. Clinton, for example, has made substantial progress cutting the goverment (or at least slowing its growth.) By substantial, I mean he has broken the tendency toward unbridled spending and taxation which existed within his party in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Hardly the act of the kind of flaming liberal that Republican pundits portray him to be.

Do his critics really believe that he is more liberal than the likes of Edward Kennedy, Mario Cuomo, Patrick Moynihan, or about 50% of the other representatives of his party? If so, it’s time for a serious reality check.

By the same token the Republicans have finally found a small group of relatively innovative fresh thinkers willing go beyond their standard Laissez Faire rhetoric. Unfortunately, they face the same uphill battle fiscally conservative Democrats faced in the mid 70’s and 80’s when trying to influence the course of their party. The new “breed” has done an excellent job focusing on the concrete steps that need to be taken to reach their goals. Whether you agree with them or not you must admire their clarity.

These innovators, however, face the classic problem of trying to articulate moderate, inclusive philosophies while competing in the slash and burn world of election year politics. (I believe the damage these Republican candidates do to each other during the primaries will remind many of the true advantage of incumbency—running unopposed until the general election.)

What’s My Point?

I see more good news than bad. From a fiscal management perspective the parties have never been closer together. Both are at least proposing balanced budget plans and the debate has been narrowed to how they are going to get there. Think about that for a moment. Instead of trying to justify deficit spending to fee an arms race or rationalizing ineffective entitlement programs, both parties seem to recognize there is some limit.

No longer confined within narrow party allegiances, voters are seeking the middle ground by supporting moderate candidates in both parties (even independents). Discounting the most militant 40% of the electorate (20% of Democrats and Republicans), the remaining 60% is now looking for solutions – and they are willing to cross party lines to find them.

It’s time for everyone to re-evaluate their political beliefs and determine if they are looking for real solutions or are just a cog in the political machine. I believe there is only one truth – no single political party can get us where we need to go. Do not let your political affiliations blind you to the truth that can be found in each party’s ideals or solutions.

Portland, Oregon
February 26, 1996

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