Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Coming Republican Schism

In a TechCentral Station column, Ryan Sager sums up my view on the current overreaching of the Republican-controlled Congress:

In coming years, political historians might look back and try to pinpoint the day or week or month that the Republican Party shed the last vestiges of its small-government philosophy. If and when they do, the week just past should make the short list. For it was in this last week that the Republican-controlled Congress made it clear that it sees no area of American life -- none too trivial and none too intimate -- that the federal government should not permeate with its power.

It can all be summed up in two words: steroids and Schiavo.


Go read the whole thing.

The Republicans were a good minority party in Congress. In fact, they were a pretty good majority party in Congress--under a Democrat president. However, proving the old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the Republicans have now shed Reagan's small government philosophy and are extending the government arm into the furthest reaches of private lives.

Either Republicans believe in small government, in keeping government off the backs of the people, of minimally-intrusive government, or they see government as a power by which "correct" views can be forced upon the citizenry. This latter view sounds very Democratic to me. Social engineering is not the role of government, no matter which party is in power--Republicans used to believe that.

I fear a schism coming, one in which the libertarian wing of the party (of which I am firmly a member) can no longer tolerate the excesses of the we've-got-the-power,-the-end-justifies-the-means wing. The American center deserves better than it's getting from both major parties, especially from the Republicans.

I expected more from them. I expected them to live up to the party's ideals.

Update, 3/22/05, 3:38 pm: I thought that perhaps I should be very clear about what it is I'm addressing in this post.

I'm sympathetic to Terri Schiavo's parents. Additionally, there's no such thing as "artificial feeding". We all need food--it's not like her stomach isn't working. Forcing someone to die of starvation and dehydration seems sick and cruel to me, whether or not they're aware of what's happening to them. In a case like this, I'm not sure that Dr. Kevorkian wouldn't have the answer. Is this how you put a pet "to sleep"?

What I am sure of, though, is that the Congress should have no say in this issue at all. This is a family issue and at most a state issue. I can find nothing in Congress' enumerated powers that could possibly justify their interference in this case. Is the Congress going to get involved every single time a state makes a decision that the majority in Congress disapproves of? I hope not, because the Republicans will not be in charge of the Congress forever.

In "standing up for life" in this one case, the Republican Congressional majority casts away any credibility it ever had with regards to federalism. Protecting Terri's life might be the right and moral thing to do, I'm honestly not sure in this case. But I am sure that throwing out the Constitution is not the right way to save her life.

And on a completely different note: I wonder how many anti-death-penalty, pro-abortion people there are chanting for this woman's death.

Update #2, 3/22/05, 3:53pm: Click here for an extremely short work of fiction which reminds me, however tangentially, of this issue.

Update #3, 3/22/05, 7:45pm: While I'm not a big fan of the Associated Press, they have a short article about the concerns I've expressed above.

Update #4, 3/23/05, 11:16am: USAToday carries an interesting article discussing the hypocrisy of both Democrats and Republicans on this issue. And Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post sums up the situation this way: We ended up having to choose between a legal travesty on the one hand and human tragedy on the other.

Update #5, 3/25/05, 2:35 pm: Glenn obviously read this posting and wrote the 2nd paragraph of this post on Instapundit.

6 comments:

Coach Brown said...

I've been thinking about a Republican Schism ever since Newt Gingrich decided to bargain with Bill Clinton, then was railroaded by the young extremists in the House.
Republicans have become too wrapped up in the political side of government and have forgotton how to actually govern. I was furious about the decision about the Iraq War, not because I was against the principle, but because I agreed with John McCain sentements that we have no fiscal responsibility. This is a party that is supposed to believe in the government's role of accountability and limited intentions.
Anyway, I've been waiting for the schism. Now that certain candidates don't have to hide in the shadows so Bush could get reelected, it might just happen.

Sherwould said...

I agree with you thoroughly on this issue. Further, I am convinced that a surprisingly high number of conservatives totally disagree with the Republican stance on this issue.

In fact, it infuriates a lot of us that our leaders would rally so staunchly in this one case when there are so many issues affecting millions of us that they willingly ignore or evade.

My worst nightmare is being brain-dead and trapped inside a useless body. The idea that I would be artificially kept alive by our government scares the hell out of me. I want to pass along something to my children and would be devastated if my savings were squandered keeping me in a vegetative state because some government official's moral feelings were offended.

I don't understand the Republicans willingness to interfere in such intimate family matters when they purport to favor less government. I honestly think that most of them view it as a political move to paint the opposition as a "cult of death".

Well ... in my case - and for most of my conservative friends ... it isn't working!

Coach Brown said...

You are very correct about Congress. Nothing states that Congress has the right to make a bill that becomes involved in this type of matter. I think that is why so few Democrats even bothered to go back to Washington to vote on the issue.
As for a precedent this sets, I don't think Congress will be able to get away with this again. Already the judges are nailing down this case (the Supreme Court has denied hearing it a few times) and this widens the divide that Congress seems to currently have against "rogue judges" (see California, Massachusetts, New York, Florida). In the end, Congressional Republicans come out the loser.

Polski3 said...

I was a registered Republic from age 18 until a few years ago. I had such high hopes for the "Contract with America". I finally got too fed up with it and became an "Independent". As far as I can tell, most politician, Donk or Republican are just out for themselves and *&^% what is right for the nation.
I'll end here....can say more but this isn't my blog to spout off on.

Darren said...

Polski3: Spout off! That's what the comment section is there for.

Lord knows I've done it on your site!

Phyllis S said...

Cogent analysis, my friend. This may be the straw that breaks this particular camel's (elephant's?) back.