Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Liberalism by close encounter

Cliff Schecter describes what I've always referred to as Republican hypocrisy like this: No Golden Rule For Conservatives. In other words, conservatives can be progressive on issues where they have been personally affected, but remain steadfastly opposed to government assistance in all other areas of life.

Schecter listed several examples, beginning with John McCain, who benefited from government health care for the last seven decades (his father was an Admiral, McCain was in the military, and he currently receives health care from the Senate), yet McCain voted against the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Schecter has a comment about that, along with more examples from the "No Golden Rule" gang:
McCain's rhetoric vs. reality on government health care is important in not only what it says about John McCain, but what it conveys about modern conservatism. Remember, Senator Trent Lott didn't believe in "big government," except when Hurricane Katrina decided to destroy HIS house. [...]

Reporter Matt Cooper noted this phenomenon in his New Republic piece "Liberals for a Day" almost 10 years ago. In his work, Cooper established the voting records of Republican Senators Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, as the sine qua non of proving liberalism by close encounter. As Cooper stated, Domenici is "to the left of Ted Kennedy" on mental health issues, because his daughter suffers from mental illness. Meanwhile, former Senator DeWine, whose daughter was tragically killed in an auto accident at only 22 years of age, was an active supporter of related regulations, from speed limits to seatbelt safety laws.

Over the years, these men have remained consistently passionate on these issues, and consistently hostile to government protection of virtually everyone else. In 2004, Domenici supported the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals a combined 0 percent of the time. DeWine (who lost his reelection race to then-Congressman Sherrod Brown in 2006) was marginally better, standing with the ACLU 22 percent of the time and the Human Rights Campaign for 25 percent of crucial votes.

Meanwhile, back when he was in the House and thankfully could do somewhat less damage, Dick Cheney's voting record was to the right of Newt Gingrich's — he voted against Head Start, Meals on Wheels for seniors and the Department of Education, to name only a few of his more infamous positions. After his daughter came out as a lesbian, however, he began calling for federal protection for gay men and lesbians — including civil unions, a position way to the left of most of his ideological brethren — as if he had begun breaking bread with Barney Frank.
Maybe Cooper was onto something when he called their change of heart "liberalism by close encounter." It's possible Republicans just don't understand until they walk in other people's shoes. If that's the case, lets send some of them to Iraq so they can experience war firsthand, and we should immediately cancel their health insurance and reduce the salaries of all senators and legislators to reflect those of their constituents. That might soften their hearts and purse strings and encourage them to vote for the common good more often. What do you think?


Lew Scannon said...

If I recall correctly, the reason for high pay for our congresscritters was to prevent corruption, if that is the case, then cut the wages to a quarter of what they are now and make them pay for their health insurance out of their own pockets-we'd see some real changes in a lot of things if that were the case.

K. said...

My definition of a conservative: A liberal whose ox hasn't been gored.

Larry said...

Obviously the high and mighty can only see what affects them and nonne else.

Kathy said...

Good point, Lew. All those higher wages accomplished was to alienate them from the struggles of ordinary people.

K, very true.

Larry, they could see if they took the time to look. They choose not to.

abi said...

Another reason given for high congressional pay is that they have to maintain two residences. Ok. Pay them twice what the median wage is in their state. That will bring their incomes and their egos crashing down pretty quick. And then maybe they'll start feeling some of the pressures that the rest of us feel.

Kathy said...

Abi, good idea, or we could just pay the rent on their living quarters while they're in Washington. Nothing fancy of course. Let them room 3 or 4 to an apartment.