Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big Goverment Can Help

"Still, there are fewer children in this country going without coats in the winter, and without basic medical care, than there once was, and that's a good thing. And that's in part because of men like Robert C. Byrd. Some of what he stood for I stand against, and I don't know that I ever would have voted for him had I been a West Virginian (on the other hand, I don't know that I wouldn't have, either). Still, I wish we had more people like him in Congress, by which I mean more people, both Republicans and Democrats, who grew up hard, and who come from farms, from factories, from the front lines of the wars, and who didn't come up in material ease. It's important too for people like me, well established in the middle class, to keep in mind people like Byrd. Most Americans, I think, are only one or two generations out of the kind of hardscrabble life that Byrd had. That nasty line I think I first heard from Anne Richards, about George H.W. Bush -- "he was born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple" -- could well apply to me and a lot of you readers, too. We may have been born on second base, or even first base, but we only got there because people like Sen. Byrd opened doors for our forebears." - Rod Dreher on his blog at Beliefnet

So there we have it. A conservative is making the case for ahem, "big government" that President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are failing to make. Washington can be a force for good that helps the less fortunate rise above the socioeconomic conditions that help them raise a family. It can and has been used to "level the playing field" when large, corporate interests stifled competition, deprived their employees from earning living wages in safe work spaces, and dumped toxins into the water that contaminated our food supplies.

Washington is needed more today now than ever. We need Washington to protect investors from the poor but economically crippling decisions made by Wall Street executives. They won't police themselves. We need Washington when the health insurance companies withhold coverage from those who payed for that coverage (whether individually or as a part of an employment package). And we need Washington to hold oil companies like BP accountable when they decimate the economic and environmental vitality of a region due to poor executive cost-cutting decisions made on their part.

Our president has, to date, failed to make the case that the people should have more to fear from the private industry than it does with Washington. He should remind us that the proliferation in government programs, regulations and bureaucracies was designed to protect us from the very private businesses that no qualms hurting us.

He cannot assume that this argument was won and every day that Republican accusations against big government goes unanswered is a day his presidency and the causes he champions get undermined further. Mr. Obama cannot govern from the boardroom. He may not have the temperament to fight so if he cannot serve as the commander-in-chief for the Democratic Party he must serve as its educator-in-chief.

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