At the center of the current cultural/political war lay a question which the public has yet to mediate: how large a role is the U.S. government supposed to play in our lives? The party norms which have traditionally guided the GOP, such as small government, seem to have fallen apart. The fierce cries from Republicans for “free markets” and “no government intervention” have faded into the background. What has replaced the conflict between more government(Democrats) and smaller government(Republicans) is an altogether new dynamic.
The Democrats still favor welfare programs, social security and affordable housing which is often subsidized. Recently however, there has been a call for less government by Democrats, in the area of corporate subsidy. Conversely, Republicans still support lower taxes on businesses but are advocating larger government intervention in areas they would like counter-policy instituted, like environmental laws and trade tariffs against international foes. The days of small, limited influence government which respects the sovriegnty of state’s rights is no more. For example, the Trump administration recently revoked California’s right to set stricter auto emission rules.
It looks like both parties are in favor of increased federal intervention to address widespread issues. For Democrats, this is no surprise. The calls from the left to produce a national health care system, or a national health insurance program align neatly within the broader objectives of the modern party; that is, leveraging federal power to address systemic problems rather than on a state by state basis. The relatively new movement within the party is to get the government out of the subsidy business, particularly large corporations.
This new phenomena on the right about greater government intervention in economic, as well as social issues is a point of friction. The GOP appears to be opening siding with Trump on the issue of Tariffs, while Fortune 500 CEOs share their reticence with Trump in private meetings. Meanwhile, the U.S. agricultural sector has been suffering the blows of tariffs for months now. Historically, the GOP has been relatively agnostic with respect to the economic consequences of federal action on small business owners, but has in this case provided a bailout program for affected farmers. Even still, the support for small businesses seems to be In Name Only, as WaPo reports:
“While the top 1 percent of recipients received on average more than $180,000 each, farmers in the bottom 80 percent on average received less than $5,000.”
Principled action from both sides of the aisle are, ultimately, a counter-weight to one another. The role of government in both economic and social issues has long defined each party’s philosophy as well as their concrete policy proposals. The recession of one side, and the advancement of the other is an interesting trend which should cause us all to collectively redefine how we feel about the government’s role in our lives. This, sadly, is impossible at the moment. I would say however that as a voter, you have just as much a right to not to ask for something, as to ask for it.
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