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3 Dollar Gas. An Opportunity Democrats Look for a Big Idea

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Gaseous Politics and Shame

by Christopher Chantrill
April 30, 2006 at 8:22 am


THERE’S a difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Democrats are completely shameless, but the Republicans are only mostly shameless.

So the pandering to angry American gas guzzlers over the past week committed by shameless Republican officeholders was at least mitigated by the disgust of the conservative commentariat. Bob Tyrrell moaned about Republicans that “forsake their principles.” Charles Krauthammer wrote that “Nothing can match the spectacle of politicians scrambling for cover during a spike in gasoline prices” and proceeded to deliver a lesson in supply and demand. The product of economist Thomas Sowell (here) and (here) dripped with scorn and also offered an economics lesson.

But what can you do about the “unidentified woman” who complains for Hardball that “It makes me angry that the prices keep going up for no apparent reason other than the profit of the gas companies.” Honey... Oh never mind.

You would think we would get more of a return on our investment of five percent of our national product on K-12 education. Is it too much to ask of our educators that every American should grow up to understand the fundamental equation of democratic capitalism? Maybe if you scratch a teacher you will find a conspiracy theorist raging about “price gouging.”

At least President Bush had come out by the end of the week against an excess profits tax. Deep down, there seems to be in the president a well of honesty, a depth below which he will not plumb. He joined in the hypocritical demand for an investigation of price manipulations. But when it came to supporting a policy of self-harming by taxing ourselves to spank the energy companies, that’s too much.

It’s the saving grace of the Republican Party. Deep down it is a profoundly middle-class party and it really does believe in the principles of global democratic capitalism: open markets, free peoples, limited government, love, marriage, and children, and a willingness to stand up and do the difficult thing.

The Republican Party was founded to do the hard thing, to grasp the nettle of slavery and root it out. Slavery had been ubiquitious since time immemorial, but in the world of the rising middle class it became an abomination. Ever since, it has been up to the Republican Party to do the difficult thing.

It was Calvin Coolidge, “weaned on a pickle,” who did the hard thing and broke the Boston police strike with the words: “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” Then he went on to cut tax rates and bring prosperity to all.

It was Ronald Reagan, “an amiable dunce” scorned by the best and brightest, who stood at the Brandenburg Gate and said: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That was after he had revived the United States from the Carter “malaise” and bamboozled the Soviet Union with the strategic feint of Star Wars.

In 2001 after 9/11 it was Republican President Bush who committed the United States to attempt the thankless job of bringing the light of democratic capitalism to the region of the world that ocean navigation was invented to avoid: the Islamic Middle East.

In this noble Republican story there were but two shameful episodes: the flirtation with Progressivism at the turn of the twentieth century, and the Nixonian descent into wage-and-price controls in the 1970s.

This willingness to labor unrewarded in the vineyard is not found in the Democratic Party, the traditional home of northern rowdies and southern white racists and now the home of welfare state functionaries, rent-seekers, diversity pimps, and black racists—the single, the secular, and the government-employed.

But what has made the Democrats so completely shameless and the Republican Party only partly so?

It is the Democratic cultural power. Democrats occupy the commanding heights of the culture, from the mainstream media to the universities to the entertainment factories. In an act of cosmic folly the soldiers posted along the picket lines of the cultural heights have interpreted their job as protecting the Democrats à outrance from any attack of dastardly theocrats and neocons whether justified or not. The consequence is that Republicans always have to worry that someone ask tough questions about their hypocritical positions, but Democrats do not. It is a dreadful fate for Democrats, because it licenses them to demonstrate to the nation time after time that they should not be taken seriously.

When Republicans emit gaseous hypocrisy, some of their supporters vomit their disapproval. Even the great Rush Limbaugh may rumble his discomfort. When Democrats do the same their supporters swallow it.

So it’s OK for Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to present a bill on the Senate floor to “make price gouging illegal.” (Did you know that Cantwell is running for reelection this year from left-coast Washington State?) But it is not OK for Republican officeholders to do the same. Their supporters really don’t like it.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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