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August 16th, 2011
Freethought San Marcos: Why Republicans (and many Democrats) don’t believe in government for the people

“I promise you this. I’ll work every day to try to make
Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

— Rick Perry, Candidate for the Republican nomination for president

Freethought San Marcos: A column

Nearly all Republicans, and many Democrats, don’t believe in the American government because they don’t believe in the basic tenets of our democracy, they don’t believe in the Constitution, and they don’t believe in the Declaration of Independence.

Based on their actions in the last thirty years, nearly all Republicans (as well as many, sometimes most, Democrats and some independents) don’t believe that government should have the purposes envisioned by our founders. The Declaration, for instance, provides as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

For the most part, these politicians–all members of what I will call the Finance Party–don’t like the fact that governments are created by people (for now, I will ignore the misogyny implicit in the word “men”) to secure the basic rights of equality and a multitude of other rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – which were further explained and expanded in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

All of these ideas from the Declaration and Constitution create an implicit bargain–a social contract–among the American people. The essence of that social contract is that we will help one another by joining together to form a government that will serve the interests of us all.

Governance–the task given to our elected representatives–is all about balancing the social contract and the rights we have so that one group cannot dominate another, a view anathema to the members of the Finance Party, who are perfectly happy deciding who can marry whom; helping corporations dominate American life in any way that satisfies their quest for greater profits; enriching the wealthy further, insisting that people pull themselves up by their bootstraps (ignoring the fact that to do so literally means that you land on your backside when you try); denying the basic need of all people for adequate food, housing, education, and medical care if they are unable to afford those things because they can’t find a job, are unable because of infirmity to hold a job, or are a child in need of nurture and care; making medical decisions for others, particularly women; passing laws like Medicare Part D in a way that enriches the pharmaceutical and insurance industries at the expense of the people and creates greater deficits; letting half the people and many corporations get away with contributing nothing to fund the federal government; refusing to stabilize Social Security through two simple methods–expand the payroll tax to all earned income, and recover most Social Security benefits paid to the wealthy through the tax system; and fighting wars that do little if anything to protect America, but everything to enrich “defense” contractors, funding these wars with borrowed money.

I could go on, but I hope readers get the idea. The signers of the Declaration believed that laws should be adopted that are “most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”  This is virtual heresy to most members of the Finance Party. Republicans in particular, along with a substantial number of Democrats, do not want laws that are for the public good. They want laws that benefit the corporations and the wealthy, particularly those that contribute to their political campaigns.

The Constitution itself provides that one of the purposes of our form of government is to “promote the general Welfare.”  But the Finance Party members believe that government should promote the welfare of the wealthy. The latest entrant into the Republican presidential sweepstakes believes that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. When challenged on this notion and asked to explain what was meant by the “general Welfare” language of the Constitution, Rick Perry had no answer, which should not be surprising for someone that made a grade of D in a class on how to feed goats.

It is myopic to believe that the founders did not envision a role for the federal government in assuring that the elderly and infirm are not forced into penury and destitution by an economic and political system based on exploitation and greed. But these Finance Partiers are more than happy to enrich the corporations and toady up to the moneyed at the expense of the many. Rick Perry is just one more feckless politician from the party of finance who is seeking more power and money for his patrons.

We, the people, formed a government to be consequential in our lives, to overcome the tyranny of despotic rule, and to promote the general welfare. Now that we have a  government that does just the opposite, it seems time to make use of our rights to reconstitute our government to meet the needs of the public, not the special interests of the financial class. We can do so with our votes and our voices.

© Lamar W. Hankins, Freethought San Marcos

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10 thoughts on “Freethought San Marcos: Why Republicans (and many Democrats) don’t believe in government for the people

  1. Too much facile broad-brushing in this commentary. It is not too difficult, with an objective eye, to see that the federal government has burgeoned far beyond the limited role envisioned by the founders. The whole Constitution was a document of specifically assigned powers and duties of the federal government — with specific declaration in the 10th Amendment that all other powers are held by the States and the people. So if Republicans (and many Democrats) don’t want to expand the payroll tax as a way to funnel more of our money into Washington D. C., it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t care about the “public good” or just want to bow down to the wealthy.

    On the other hand, I’ll agree that there are SOME who have gotten caught up in the fervor of paring back government that have gone overboard into government loathing. Government does play a vital role in our society in promoting the common good and maintaining order, stability and the freedom for all citizens.

  2. How does stuff like this get published? This piece is nothing more than a (poorly written) hack job against a political party. “Commentary” of this nature reflects poorly on the author, this site, and frankly, the internet as a whole.

  3. It’s called projection and you’ve got a whole big heaping mess of it: YOUR problem is that you don’t believe in the limited, REPUBLICAN form of government instituted by the Constitution.

    I like this website and come here often, but the stuff this person writes is so bad it’s almost enough to drive me away for good. Surely the editors can do better than this.

  4. I always look forward to Lamar’s columns, and this one is particularly good! Right on, Lamar! Keep it coming! Truth to Power!

  5. For Bill, Dano, and Patrick:

    Instead of ad hominem attacks, why don’t you explain what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote: “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

  6. He wrote that in 1816 to support his argument against forming the Bank of the US. He was strongly opposed to the concept of having a national bank and saw it as a threat to our very liberty.

    Nothing I have read indicates that he was arguing against private corporations.

    For that matter, I don’t for a minute believe that the “public welfare” that our Founding Fathers wanted the government to provide included things like Social Security, Medicare, Chips, or other such programs either.

  7. I thought the Bank of the US was a private corporation. The Federalists proved its constitutionality originally by showing how the rights of corporations are equal to the rights of individuals. Jefferson was not against private corporations, he was opposed to them having equal footing to individual rights.

    This might be a better quote:

    I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and cause me to tremble for safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed.
    – Abraham Lincoln, letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864

  8. Like the Bible it is how you interpret them.

    The preamble to the U.S. Constitution lists six functions of government:

    1. To form a more perfect Union – The national government will be fair across different state boundaries, helping keep the union together.

    2. To establish justice – The government’s responsiblity is to protect those who do obey the law and punish those who do not.

    3. To insure domestic tranquility – In order that all may lead a tranquil and quiet life, according to their own conscience, in a godlike and dignified manner.

    4. To provide for the common defense – All life is held as sacred, with the protection of innocent life at the base of capital punishment. The government is to provided an army for protection from external threats.

    5. To promote the general welfare – Civil rulers are servants for the general good. All classes of citizens are to be represented equally by any laws the government may pass. The government may not provide or aid special interest groups above others. It is to promote, not provide, for the people.

    6. To secure the blessings of liberty – As stated in the Declaration of Independence, blessings are endowed upon men by their creator, not a privilege granted by government. These blessings include life, liberty, and property. Government cannot provide these, only secure them.

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