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Jewish World Review August 21, 2000 / 20 Menachem-Av, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports

Prosperity without a clue -- SOME HAVE SUGGESTED that Democrats have no central rallying theme this year. I have a suggestion: "Prosperity without a Clue." I know it wouldn't be very effective, but at least it would be true.

Others have convincingly demonstrated that Clinton and Gore are not responsible for the economic prosperity we now enjoy, so I won't reiterate that evidence. Instead, I want to consider whether their policies are designed to maintain the prosperity; that's really the relevant economic question for this year's election.

Clinton-Gore Democrats have no theme because a theme requires a coherent set of policies tied to a central purpose. Though some conservatives and Libertarians will dispute this, Republicans do have a theme. Their theme -- however well they adhere to it -- has always been championing freedom by restricting the federal government's role to its constitutional purposes and affirmatively safeguarding the liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Most of their policies, but not all, center on that theme.

You might say, "Well, if the Republicans' theme is less government, then the Democrats' is more government." Perhaps, but they shy away from admitting it. Essential to having a theme is the willingness to clearly articulate it. I think one major problem with today's Democrat Party is they don't face the logical extension of their policy prescriptions.

The closest the Democrats come to having a theme is in stirring up class envy and race-baiting and proposing new ideas about how the government can spend more money. Many of their policy proposals are consistent with these ideas but are not grounded in any larger purpose. They talk about maintaining the status quo in order to preserve our prosperity. They don't tell us, however, how stirring up class envy and expanding the welfare state will help maintain the economy, much less stimulate it.

For the sake of discussion, let's give Clinton-Gore Democrats the benefit of the doubt in assuming they advocate an increasingly greater role for the government out of compassion rather than a desire to buy votes. Good intentions don't buy any meals. You can use whatever euphemism you prefer but socialism is still socialism, and history proves that governments don't create wealth.

Democrats will protest that this is an exaggeration -- that they are New Democrats who advocate but a modest role for government. Don't believe it. Speaker after speaker at the Democratic convention, for example, promised socialized medicine, but they couldn't point to a single nation in the world where it hasn't resulted in a bankruptcy in the quantity and quality of medical care. The same is true of an unlimited, unaccountable welfare state. Clinton vetoed welfare reform twice and now champions it as his own achievement. Ditto with education. As cliched as it may sound, merely throwing money at problems has failed time and time again.

The truth is that without a Republican Congress to restrain it, a Democratic presidency would be devastating both to our economy and our liberties because Democratic politicians refuse to acknowledge conceptual limits to government largesse and indeed have no ideological basis to establish such limits.

Democratic leaders continue to promote ideas in the public sector that they would never permit at home, such as sloth, dependency, unaccountability and moral relativism. If these ideas are detrimental to them and their children, how can they be healthy for the rest of us?

This week, Democrats have been criticizing Republican plans to squander the "hard-earned" surplus. How did that bizarre concept ever worm its way into our political lexicon? Hard earned by whom? Are they implying the government earned it? If not, then why talk about it being hard earned, unless you are planning to return it to those who hard-earned it.

If we are not careful, this prosperity may end up being a nightmare in disguise. If it causes us to forget that wealth is created by the private sector, we will be vulnerable to politicians' efforts to adopt policies that smother the free market.

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg talked about restoring her father's legacy. If we could just get the New Democrats to go that far I'd be tickled. We are not likely, though, to hear from this year's crop, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.



08/16/00: AlGore can run but he can't hide
08/14/00: When hate speech is OK
08/09/00: Bush: The pundits' enigma
08/07/00: GOP convention: Live or Memorex?
08/02/00: The first attack dog
07/31/00: The Cheney taint?
07/26/00: The anti-gun bogeyman
07/24/00: The raging culture war
07/19/00: Is Hillary 'Good for the Jews'?
07/17/00: How dare you, George?
07/12/00: Jacoby's raw deal
07/10/00: The perplexities of liberalism
07/05/00: Big Al and big oil
07/03/00: Partial-birth and total death
06/28/00: Some questions for you, Mr. Gore
06/26/00: Supreme Court assaults religious freedom
06/21/00: Waco: We are the jury
06/19/00: "Outrage" just doesn't quite cut it anymore!
06/14/00: Al Gore: Government's best friend
06/12/00: Say goodbye to medical privacy
06/07/00: Elian: Whose hands were tied?
06/05/00: Who, which, what is the real Al Gore?
06/01/00: Legacy-building idea for Clinton
05/30/00: Clinton: Above the law or not?
05/24/00: Not so fast, Hillary
05/22/00: Gore's risky, fear-mongering schemes
05/17/00: Can Bush risk pro-choice running mate?
05/15/00: Right to privacy, Clinton-style
05/10/00: Patrick Kennedy and his suit-happy fiddlers
05/08/00: Don't shoot Eddie Eagle
05/03/00: Congress caves to Clinton, again?
05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
04/19/00: President Clinton: Teaching children responsibility
04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
04/10/00:The fraying of America
04/05/00: Noonan: End Clintonism now
04/03/00: Bush: On going for the gold
03/29/00: Phantasma-Gore-ia
03/27/00: Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants
03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?