Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Democrats and Republicans are Both Wrong

{Caveats}
I realize this is over-simplifying things, but contrary to what Democrats and Republicans believe about each other, the other side is sincerely trying to help society. Neither side is evil or is trying to prevent people from getting the help they need. They just have different methods for accomplishing it.

So, for example, both Democrats and Republicans want to help the poor, they just have different views on how to do it. Democrats think if people need financial help, the best thing to do is ... give them financial help. Very understandable, but it only works in the short-term: "eventually you run out of other people's money". Republicans think if people need financial help, the best thing to do is create more opportunities for people to be able to make money. Also very understandable, but it only works in the long-term: if you need help paying rent now, buying groceries now, help that may come several months or years down the line, and which could still pass you by, doesn't offer much solace. Of course, neither side thinks that we should only do one or the other, but Democrats focus on the former and Republicans focus on the latter.

The obvious point is that both must be made equal, since both are of equal importance. The reason both Democrats and Republicans are wrong is because both are incomplete without the other. Indeed, they need each other. If either side had complete government control, society would fall apart. Apparently, it's just impossible to hold both the short-term and long-term plans in mind as equal, so we inevitably tend to think one is more important than the other. If you see people living in poverty, then of course you're going to want to get them the help they need as soon as possible. But if you see people living on the government dole for long enough, you see them become dependent with no sense of self-reliance -- so of course you're going to want to get them a long-term solution that respects their value as human beings, and which keeps them from being mere leeches on society. Both sides are obviously right. Therefore, both sides are obviously wrong.

Incidentally, the Bible affirms both of these precepts. One of its more common themes is that we should go out of our way to help others; indeed, to not do so is to, in effect, deny Christ. However, this should be done willingly: we should not force others to help and we should not be forced to do so ourselves. Yet it also says we should do everything we can to be self-sufficient, not dependent on anyone else, and not leech off of others.

5 comments:

Ilíon said...

Which, when we get down to your final conclusion, quite undermines the original thesis.

Matt said...

The two party domination of our political system is what is wrong.

Tyson said...

Re: Helping others should be done willingly.

Throughout the OT, God spoke through his prophets against systematic oppression of the poor and immigrants. He pointed out that Israel was violating the terms of the covenant, which included rules that would ensure the poor and alien would be taken care of. For example, the year of Jubilee, seventh-year cancellation of debts, and the third-year tithe.

I see parallels between those "social justice" provisions, as I like to call them, and things that governments can do today to help the poor, such as ensure access to health care, institute a progressive tax system, and provide a safety net for the aged and infirm. In a way, we are forced to help the poor by the government, but I think this has biblical backing.

Ilíon said...

I'll just bet you do like to call these anti-justice provisions -- which increase poverty and dependence and misery -- "social justice."

So, we live in a theocracy, do we? God *also* commands chastity and sexual purity. Oddly enough, the "social justice" folk care about a tendentious understanding (for, surprise! they benefit, socially and/or financially) of the socially-contingent OT laws – which didn’t even provision for institutionalized enforcement -- while totally ignoring the OT laws predicated on unchanging human nature.

Jim S. said...

Tyson, that's a good point. If we take the "not done by force" claim to its conclusion, it would mean not paying taxes, something the Bible says we are obliged to do. The political disagreements are about where the line should be drawn, not whether it should be drawn.

I'm not sure the OT rules for society to help the poor and immigrants would apply. The government there was one explicitly established and guided by direct revelation from God. Other governmental systems may be established in accordance with God's plan, but they're not guided by specific revelation to that government. Having said that, I'm not sure the OT rules would not apply either.