Jewish World Review Nov. 22, 2013/ 19 Kislev, 5774
Dems, Republicans failing to live up to brands
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If the Republicans can't fight wars and the Democrats stink at socializing medicine, what good are they?
That would not be an altogether unreasonable question for a typical American today.
No doubt spokesmen for the respective political parties would offer all sorts of objections to that summation. And many of those objections would be fair. A defender of
As for the Democrats, a partisan might claim that Obamacare was never intended to "socialize" medicine. While the president said that he'd prefer a single-payer system, what he proposed fell far short of that and included some Republican ideas. A Democrat-defender might also note that the Republicans are "invested in failure," as the president recently put it, and have done everything they can to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
Let's just concede there are many arguments and counterarguments to all of that.
But such arguments are for professional political protagonists. For the normal American who doesn't live and breathe politics, the simple fact is that Democrats and Republicans alike have failed to live up to their brands.
Consider war, which used to be considered part of the
Now consider health care. Liberals have been pushing for some version of universal, single-payer health care for over a century. But President Obama couldn't deliver that, even with total control of both houses of
Moreover, anyone dissatisfied with the status quo would get everything they wanted, too. It would be better! Cheaper! Faster, stronger, bionic! Whatever you want, he promised it.
But that was an impossible, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too promise.
Americans blame the parties for a lot, but a lot can be blamed on Americans. I don't necessarily mean that in a negative or accusatory way. I merely mean that the parties tend to lag behind the times. Culturally, Americans want all the upside and none of the downside. Fight the war on terror but don't violate my privacy. Kill our enemies but don't kill anyone by accident. Contain threats but don't cost too much.
When it comes to government services, the same mind-set rules. A lot of it has to do with technology, which changes culture far more than any sitcom, song or movie. ATM machines, iPhones, apps, GPS, debit cards, you name it: All work so seamlessly we've come to think this is the way things -- all things -- are supposed to work. It's not an intellectual conclusion but a feeling stemming from lived experience. In pitching Healthcare.gov, Obama pandered to that expectation, vowing the site would work as well as
In the aftermath of
But the far more important development will be when Americans start to downgrade their expectations of what government can do.
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