Governing harder than campaigning


A recent letter on Tea Party concerns was well written and on the surface appealing. For example, the statement about "how common sense has gone out the window" sounds good, but what exactly does that mean? And the advice "to live within our means" also sounds good and often is, but cutting spending isn't the only legitimate way to do that. No doubt there are "a myriad of social programs along with overspending ... in our government." But which specific programs are overspending and by how much? And surely some are underfunded. Maybe it's clear to the letter writer "history has shown that increasing taxes results in very negative consequences to our economy." My guess is history might show a wide variety of tax policy consequences both positive and negative. Probably the recent recession has resulted in an "increasing segment of our society to become dependent on the government." But we all depend on the government in many ways. Has all this dependence led to widespread loss of self-reliance and individual initiative? I personally don't think so, although specific contrary examples could surely be found.

Political campaigning has the luxury of broad generalities; actual governing doesn't. An effective democracy requires recognizing competing interests. It requires recognizing elections matter - you win some, you lose some. It requires recognizing your opponent may have some good ideas and that compromise does not necessarily reflect weakness. The Tea Party may have a few valid points, but in my opinion it speaks largely in generalities, shows little interest in governing, and fails to recognize what makes a democracy work well.

John Whitmer


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