Dem Platform is for Whiners

Dem Platform is for Whiners

By Robert Robb - August 29, 2008

The Democrats have titled their party platform, "Renewing America's Promise."

A more honest and accurate title would be, "We'll Give You More."

The soul of the Democratic philosophy is summed up in this passage from the platform: "For decades, Americans have been told to act for ourselves, by ourselves, on our own. Democrats reject this recipe for division and failure."

Note the disdain for the ethos of self-responsibility. Democrats do not merely regard it as insufficient. Instead they regard the idea that people should provide for themselves as divisive.

Even more significantly, Democrats regard self-responsibility as a "recipe for failure." In other words, Democrats don't think the American people are capable of making it on their own.

And so, Democrats have a government program for, well, everything.

Democrats want government to help you raise your kids, send them to college, train and retrain for a job, buy a home and save for retirement.

They must be saving the burial assistance program for 2012.

If you want an abortion or want to keep the child, it doesn't matter.

Democrats want taxpayers to help pay for it either way.

Democrats are also big on "investment" in "infrastructure." Of course, in the Democratic view, everything is infrastructure. It is paradoxical that the Democrats are stressing the need for public investment at the same time that their tax policies will shrink private investment.

Simply put, Democrats say they will give you more than Republicans, and that's why you should vote for them.

According to Democrats, the lot of the average American is lousy. And according to the polls, the electorate is inclined to agree.

Income and wage statistics are tricky. There are problems with inflation measures and averages are affected by the large influx of low-skilled immigration the country has experienced.

However, perspective can be gathered by stepping away and looking at the broader picture.

More Americans own their homes than at any time in history and their homes are larger than at any time in history. Americans spend less of their income on the basics - food, shelter and clothing - than at any time in history. We own more stuff that does more stuff than ever before.

Yes, there is a housing slump. But the end result of that will be, if politicians will get out of the way, more people being able to buy more home at lower prices.

There is currently a pinch on wages. But it is caused by inflation. In a 57-page platform that includes such things as supporting refundable tax credits to families on the Northern Mariana Islands, there is not a single word about the importance of a stable currency to protect the buying power and the savings of average Americans.

During the depression, GDP declined by 40 percent and a quarter of the American workforce was out of work. In the 1970s, the economy was contracting about half the time, unemployment reached 9 percent and interest rates and inflation hit double digits.

Those were tough economic times. These aren't, at least not yet.

What is different, and can be tough, is the pace of economic change.

Technology and globalization have sped up the creative destruction that is part of the essence of a market economy.

That has created economic anxiety and the Democrats are playing on that anxiety.

However, Democrats are misleading the American people by claiming that they can make the anxiety go away. Green manufacturing jobs aren't going to be any less susceptible to foreign competition than current manufacturing jobs. Detroit isn't going to face any less global competition in hybrids or plug-ins than in SUVs and sedans.

And triggering a protectionist trade war is how you get things like the Great Depression.

So, the economic path for most Americans is going to stay more turbulent than in the past. But, according to the Democrats, the American people can't be told to just buck up and learn to live with it. That would be divisive and a recipe for failure.

Phil Gramm got tossed off the John McCain Straight-Talk Express for saying that the country had become a nation of whiners. So, pandering during an election year is certainly a bipartisan affair.

But if Gramm is right and we have become a nation of whiners, the Democrats are certainly the party to represent us.

Robert Robb is a columnist for the Arizona Republic and a RealClearPolitics contributor. Reach him at

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