Beware that this new downgrade of our debt rating by S&P might be the new crisis that we have to deal with. Although it is a bit alarming, there is nothing to panic about. Japan was downgraded in 2001 and nothing calamitous came of it. The problem is, in our country where we have two main political parties that resort to demagoguery and political spin to lay blame at the other party’s feet, the facts get muted a bit. Our Founding Fathers had a distaste for political parties. Thomas Paine said:
It is the nature and intention of a constitution to prevent governing by party, by establishing a common principle that shall limit and control the power and impulse of party, and that says to all parties, thus far shalt thou go and no further. But in the absence of a constitution, men look entirely to party; and instead of principle governing party, party governs principle.
George Washington in his farewell speech spoke omnisciently about political parties:
They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.
I am in some ways at different times guilty as well. I identify myself as a Tea Party person and sometimes find myself defending positions that are supposedly those of the Tea Party even when I am not in total agreement with them. One feels that to give an inch in the debate, one gives a mile. We attack each others party as if there is nothing they support that we would support. This sort of reflexive thinking is flawed. When emotions run high, rationale runs low. We need to engage in conversations and attempt to find common ground. Concentrate on the things we can agree on and minimize the debate to only those things we do not agree on. The way the debates are currently structured, you see points being argued simply so they can later be compromised on. The stance was only made as a bargaining chip, as leverage in the argument. Only because one party felt one way about it, the other party simply took up the opposite stance as part of the political dance.
Other times, when one party is firmly in control, they ram their views down the other party’s throat. You will hear things said like “Elections have consequences” and “I won“. This creates long term hard feelings. One party is never always in power, and when the other takes over, these sorts of things are not forgotten nor forgiven. George Washington predicted as much and how it harms the country:
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
We must take heed that our political debate has entered into a cycle that continues to harm our country. I called for a compromise in my opinion piece leading up to the finality of the most recent debt debate. Additional taxes should not have been a deal breaker, for it will be that in which the Left and their controlled media will blame the Tea Party for the downgrade of our debt rating. The Right will correctly claim it is the debt and that the reason for the downgrade is we have done nothing to show we will lower it. The Left says it is because there is not enough tax revenue. The Right will say there is too much spending. Both are correct.
The solution to raise tax revenue may be to moderately raise some taxes, certainly close many of the tax loopholes that have been created through lobbyists, and most definitely create more jobs in the private sector. If we raise taxes too much, this will be counterproductive to job creation. Job creation is one key to the fix. If the country has more people working, then more people will be paying taxes. I call for an end to the long running unemployment benefits. I can say with great certainty that there are many people out there not interested in working (and paying taxes) if they can sit at home and collect unemployment instead. We do them, and our country no favors by propping up this segment of our society. This is just one debate of many that needs to take place, but the debate will take a hard edge along political lines with all debates lined up on one side or the other. Nobody will be interested in solutions, just talking points and political victories.
Our political parties need to truly engage each other in this debate. Truly search for the long term solutions that will allow for the country to grow stronger. Individuals need to think individually and keep an open mind. Not fall in the sway of our individually pronounced political party affiliations. Keep in mind the words of Alexander Hamilton:
Nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has at all times characterized political parties.