by Providence Crowder
Author Donald W. Dayton produced a remarkable historical summary of America’s evangelical legacy in his work entitled, “Discovering an Evangelical Heritage.” This book provides compelling evidence that confirms “the Christian witness” has a powerful impact upon society when the gospel is put into action. Unlike contemporary evangelicalism, which by and large evades questions of social responsibility, Dayton sets out to prove that the evangelical heritage left by nineteenth century evangelicals such as Catherine Booth and Charles G. Finney demonstrated that the gospel and social responsibility were once intimately integrated. He provides thrilling accounts of how the nineteenth century evangelical “abolitionists” understood that to right societal wrongs, social injustice demanded a radical and Christian response. The abolitionist movement was chiefly political and religious; abolitionists believed that slavery was a sin. Through moral suasion, they set out to change laws in an effort to permanently abolish it. (more…)
Through Their Own Words
Political parties are comprised of individuals. Within a particular party, the individuals may vary to some degree on how they view particular issues. Corporately, however, political parties set platforms that generally represent the ideologies of the people that make up that party. In closely comparing the party platforms of the two major political parties in this nation, one can better determine which party best represents his or her moral, social, and economic convictions and make an informed choice based on that persuasion.
How the Democrat and Republican parties address the social ill of poverty is worth examining. Poverty is a reality in this nation and abroad, and neither political party diminishes that reality nor seeks to intentionally do injustice to the economically disadvantaged. However, the parties have differing ways in which they approach the poverty issue. I have compared two years from each party’s platform; years in which they specifically addressed Poverty, Welfare, and Welfare Reform. There were other years in which these issues had been addressed, but for simplicity, I used just two; 1968 and 1980. After each year’s bulleted platform summary, I recapped the conclusions of each party in my own words.
These are the parties, in their own words:
|Democrat Party Platform (Poverty, Welfare, Welfare Reform) – 1968
|Republican Party Platform (Poverty, Welfare, Welfare Reform) – 1968
Summary of the political parties – 1968:
That the Democrats had a very different approach to attacking poverty than Republicans is evident by comparing the platforms. The Democrats had enacted a variety of programs and payments to the poor in an effort to lessen the burden of the poor. They favored no limits on the amount of children that the federal government would provide assistance for and favored removing a requirement for the mothers of young children to work. The Democrats opposed state sponsored welfare and favored a federal plan instead. They also favored assistance payments with automatic cost of living adjustments.
The Republicans opposed their approach, citing that the programs and payments stifled work ethic and weakened the family unit. They favored making payments to privately run daycare centers on behalf of the mothers so that their children would be taken care of, allowing them to accept work to provide for their family. The Republican approach also favored home ownership and entrepreneurship for the poor to promote self-determination. Republicans suggested including representatives from the poor in decision making when it came to developing and implementing programs that would best serve them. The Republicans favored state and community sponsored services as opposed to a federal welfare program, except for a unified federal food distribution program (as opposed to food stamps) to help provide poor with sufficient food for a balanced diet.
Democrat Platform (Poverty, Welfare, Welfare Reform) – 1980
- States and cities which make an honest effort to meet the welfare crisis find themselves in deepening fiscal difficulty.
- Incentives continue that cause families to break apart and fathers to leave home so that children may survive. Disincentives continue for welfare families to seek work on their own.
- Many of these young mothers want to work. A companion to any effective welfare reform must be provision for adequate and available child care.
- Social services must continue to be developed and operated at the local level, close to the users.
- A government pledged to a fairer distribution of wealth, income, and power, and to holding as a guiding concern the needs and aspirations of all, must also be a government which seeks to alleviate hunger.
- Over the years, the Food Stamp Program, expanded and made more responsive by a Democratic Congress and Administration, has become the bulwark of this nation’s efforts to relieve hunger among its citizens.
Republican Platform (Poverty, Welfare, Welfare Reform) – 1980
- In every society there will be some who cannot work, often through no fault of their own. Yet current federal government efforts to help them have become counterproductive, perpetuating and aggravating the very conditions of dependence they seek to relieve.
- For two generations, the Democrats have deliberately perpetuated a status of federally subsidized poverty and manipulated dependency for millions of Americans. This is especially so for blacks and Hispanics.
- For those on welfare, our nation’s tax policies provide a penalty for getting a job. In these cases, due to taxes, earned income is actually less than welfare benefits. This is the “poverty trap” which will continue to hold millions of Americans as long as they continue to be punished for working.
- By fostering dependency and discouraging self-reliance, the Democratic Party has created a welfare constituency dependent on its continual subsidies.
- The Carter Administration has proposed to nationalize welfare.
- The Democrats have presided over—and must take the blame for—the most monstrous expansion and abuse of the food stamp program to date.
- We categorically reject the notion of a guaranteed annual income, no matter how it may be disguised, which would destroy the fiber of our economy and doom the poor to perpetual dependence.
Summary of the political parties – 1980:
Reading through both platforms for 1980, again we see significant differences in how the parties aim to attack poverty. The Democrat party took a strikingly different tone than that of 1968 against the very policies that they fought to implement. Realizing the need for young mothers to work, they called for payments to day care centers to provide a means for young mothers to enter into the workforce to provide for their families. The Democrats had also realized that the federal government could not do it all. They suggested that the local government and the community were to have an integral role in welfare reform: “Social services must continue to be developed and operated at the local level, close to the users, with knowledge of and sensitivity to both the particular problems of each case and the community’s unique infrastructure, resources, and support networks.”
Democrats also cited a fiscal crisis for taxpayers, due to inefficiencies within the welfare system. They also deplored the incentives that “cause families to break apart and fathers to leave home so that children may survive.” According to democrats, the dependency upon their welfare policies and programs had caused welfare families to” not seek work on their own” and rely upon welfare to provide a regular income. The Democrats continued to praise their food stamp program and its expansions under Democratic presidencies in the fight against hunger.
The Republican Party blamed the Democrats for aggravating the poverty issue instead of helping it. They believed that Democratic programs were counterproductive and encouraged dependence instead of dissuading it. The Republicans recalled “For two generations, especially since the mid-1960s, the Democrats have deliberately perpetuated a status of federally subsidized poverty and manipulated dependency for millions of Americans. This was especially so for blacks and Hispanics, many of whom remain pawns of the bureaucracy, trapped outside the social and economic mainstream of American life.”
The Republicans berated that the nation’s tax policy provided a penalty for getting a job, citing that most individuals earned income is actually less than welfare benefits. Republicans called this the “poverty trap” that punished Americans for working. The Republicans insisted that increasing welfare and food stamp payments was counterproductive and increased dependency on continual subsidies. They adamantly opposed nationalizing welfare, stating that it would cost billions more and made millions more on welfare. Additionally, they called for reforms to alleviate the tax burden by ending payments to illegal aliens and the voluntarily unemployed. Republicans opposed a “guaranteed annual income” for the poor warning that it would doom the poor to perpetual dependence. The Republicans devised various means to increase work incentive and decrease abuses within the welfare system.
When comparing the political parties on just one issue, one may not be able to determine which political party would best wholly represent his or her ideology. If you are unsure of where the parties stand on other issues that may be near and dear to you, I encourage you to take a look at the party platforms and compare them FOR YOURSELF. Bypass listening to the rhetoric of the liberal and conservative medias; bypass reading the revisionist history of so many commentaries and read FOR YOURSELF the principles that your representatives who have aligned themselves with either party actually stand on.
For more information on other issues that are near and dear to you, check out the Democrat and Republican platforms in their entirety at the American Presidency Project: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/platforms.php
February 25, 2008 Issue
The American Conservative
High spirits and low expectations at CPAC
by Michael Brendan Dougherty
At last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, a man in a dolphin suit stood outside the Omni Shoreham Hotel mocking Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping on abortion, the Reagan presidency, and other issues dear to conservative hearts. Attendees loved him. This year, Flipper stood by himself in a hallway, his dorsal fin drooping, his plush head hanging—a year’s worth of wear and tear. With John McCain on the verge of winning the Republican nomination, few of the conservatives at CPAC wanted to joke about Romney, in whom they had of late placed their hopes. And within a few hours of the start of the conference, both Romney and Flipper would need to find new lines of work.
The former Massachusetts governor was introduced by Laura Ingraham, who, clueless of the drama to come, waxed on about Romney as the “conservative’s conservative” while enthusiastic supporters waved foam “Mitts.” With trademark efficiency, he delivered a speech that served red meat with the regularity and forced sincerity of a Denny’s waitress. On welfare and regulation, Romney said, “Dependency is culture killing.” On family, he declared that the development of a child is “enhanced” by having a mother and father. “I wonder how it is that unelected judges, like some in my state of Massachusetts, are so unaware of this reality,” he mused.
He compared his run against McCain to Reagan’s campaign against the moderate Ford, but then declared that one issue trumped everything, even his own presidential ambitions: “There is an important difference from 1976. Today we are a nation at war.” He explained that by fighting on to the convention, he would “forestall the launch of a national campaign and, frankly, I’d make it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win. … I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.” As disappointed fans filed out, organizers hauled out the campaign debris. Exit Romney faithful, enter McCainiacs. The transition took mere minutes.
Well aware that CPAC wasn’t a natural constituency, McCain’s campaign had loaded a double-barreled introduction: former Virginia senator George Allen, who but for three unfortunate syllables might have been in McCain’s place, and Tom Coburn, arguably the Senate’s most conservative member.
His credentials polished, McCain entered to orchestrated applause—the string of speakers preceding him had urged the crowd to mind its manners—and struck as conciliatory a tone as an old maverick can muster. “Many of you have disagreed strongly with some positions I have taken in recent years,” he said. “I understand that. … And it is my sincere hope that even if you believe I have occasionally erred in my reasoning as a fellow conservative, you will still allow that I have, in many ways important to all of us, maintained the record of a conservative.”
The reaction was mixed. The author of last year’s wildly unpopular “comprehensive immigration reform” was roundly booed when he broached the subject of America’s borders. But he knew how to win the audience back: “Whomever the Democrats nominate, they would govern this country in a way that will, in my opinion, take this country backward to the days when government felt empowered to take from us our freedom to decide for ourselves the course and quality of our lives.” (Within the same paragraph, McCain inadvertently demonstrated the contradictions between the old Republican palaver about freedom and the demands of the war on terror saying, “It is shameful and dangerous that Senate Democrats are blocking an extension of surveillance powers.” No line got louder applause.)
McCain may not have sealed the deal, but he got his foot in the door. Blogging for National Review, Stanley Kurtz wrote, “I thought McCain did an excellent job … he won over most of the crowd.”
While the establishment was upstairs coalescing around its unlikely champion, the full spectrum of the conservative grassroots was on display in the downstairs exhibition hall. Where else to buy an “I’d rather be water-boarded than vote for McCain” t-shirt? Other conservative couture featured a picture of a bricklayer constructing a wall: “If you build it, they won’t come.”(One wonders what the Hondurans who make these shirts think of the Americans who buy them.) A generation after the Berlin Wall fell, red-baiting is still in vogue: one activist sold t-shirts with the figure of Vladimir Lenin bestriding an American university; another offered bottles of Lenin-ade and ushankas with hammer and sickle insignia and Clinton or Obama’s name.
Wandering among the dealers, Max Blumenthal greeted me. Son of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, Max writes for The Nation and produces video exposés of the Right. He looked over his shoulder at the young Republican women standing around and asked, “Shouldn’t they be dressed more modestly?” I laughed and said that the conservative movement doesn’t come from Amish country. Max offered his opinion of the way liberal women dress (not all that great) and pressed on about the short skirts and plunging necklines around us. By then, I wanted to get away. “I guess they are dressed for breeding,” I quipped—then immediately worried that he was videotaping me. That would never sound right. But Max had hit on something odd about CPAC.
Six feet from us hung a t-shirt that read “I only sleep with Republicans,” and two booths away Young Americans for Freedom featured an airbrushed poster of Ann Coulter in her best come-hither pose. The Young Britons’ Foundation didn’t have any Edmund Burke tracts, but they did have a poster of a sultry brunette, her lips parted slightly. The lascivious caption: “Life is better under a conservative.” Not to be outdone, banners at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute’s booth encouraged each young woman walking by to become “A Luce Lady.” CPAC’s many parties would provide ample opportunity.
The first night, a Washington Times editor rented a room and spread the word that he had $1,500 worth of booze. The party was loud, and just a few moments after former congressman Bob Barr, leader of the House’s effort to impeach Bill Clinton, posed for a picture with his arms draped over two young women, the hotel shut down the festivities. The consensus opinion of the party: “Off the hook.”
The Maine College Republicans boasted on Facebook of their annual binge: “In just five years Mainefest has grown from a small hotel gathering to become one of Washington’s most highly anticipated social events of the year.” It’s not quite the Gridiron Dinner, but the parties seem to please the attendees. Washington’s free-market think tanks and lobbying outfits suffer from a lack of females, and college Republican groups contain a surfeit of attractive women looking for America’s future lawyers. Besides, the men in college Republican groups are unavailable and undesirable—their romantic attention entirely fixed on Ayn Rand.
Not everyone came for the parties. Outside the main ballroom, angry CPACers waved “Republicans Against McCain” protest signs. Another cluster held up a “McCain = Amnesty” banner. Libertarian activists claimed that registrations at their booth spiked as soon as Romney announced the suspension of his campaign.
Ron Paul, under whose standard most dissenters rallied, gave one of the sharpest speeches of his campaign. The only featured speaker to attack John McCain, Paul asked the audience to consider that the presumptive nominee had allied with Tom Daschle on tax policy, with Russ Feingold on campaign finance, with Al Gore on global warming, and with Ted Kennedy on immigration. He did not shy away from his differences with the movement on the war on terror: “Osama bin Laden loves our foreign policy.” Donald Devine, second vice chairman of The American Conservative Union, moved slowly to the back of the room, asking if the people there supported Paul. With a sigh, he admitted that he, too, would probably vote for him. It was a stunning admission from one of CPAC’s founders.
But the organizers know better than to let their conference devolve into dissent. Newt Gingrich was called in as the closer. His speech contained his familiar chorus of absurd statistics: “85 percent of American people believe we have an obligation to protect America and her allies, 75 percent believe we have obligation to defeat our enemies.” Apparently Democrats believe that America’s enemies should pillage Kansas City next week.
At one moment Gingrich seemed to echo the dissident voices heard in break-away sessions: it is essential for “the conservative movement … to declare itself independent from the Republican Party.” But that doesn’t mean starting a new party or even sitting out an election. Gingrich continued, “Any reasonable conservative will—in the end—find they have an absolute requirement to support the Republican nominee for president this fall.” Apparently political independence from Republicans still implies an absolute requirement to vote for them.
Gingrich was acting according to the logic of CPAC. Founded to pull the country and the Republican Party to the right, the conference is now so well established and so reliant on the appearance of big-name politicians for its success (measured in number of attendees and media buzz) that it has become the place where conservatives reconcile themselves to voting Republican no matter what. Tempted though they may be to punish the GOP for its transgressions, each year Raymond Aron’s dictum prevails: “In politics, the choice is not between good and evil, but between the preferable and the detestable.” Of course this gives incredible license to “the preferable” to act detestably. If a movement believes that its opponents are the communist caricatures depicted on CPAC t-shirts, it can convince itself to throw in with McCain. By the end of Gingrich’s speech, morale had been lifted and attendees had their bags stuffed with all the trinkets they could carry.
The bullying bumper stickers, the man in the dolphin outfit, and the bestsellers by radio personalities are all the result of conservatives turning toward movement politics. It is tempting to sniff at the CPAC crowd—many of whom claim to be conservatives but cannot tell the difference between Russell Kirk and Captain Kirk. But that would be wrong.
Moving from ideas to policy advocacy and finally to governance requires building an electoral coalition that will, by its very nature, simplify subtle reflections into campaign slogans. When William F. Buckley tied himself, and by extension National Review, to the cause of Joe McCarthy, the conservative intellectual movement was married to a populist base. In his 1992 Republican convention speech, Pat Buchanan spoke of a great class of voters: “They don’t read Adam Smith or Edmund Burke, but they came from the same schoolyards and playgrounds and towns as we did. They share our beliefs and convictions, our hopes and our dreams. They are the conservatives of the heart.” Many of them are now at CPAC—and that’s part of the problem.
The conference flattens the political passions of these conservatives, channeling their energy into national politics and away from local concerns. Thus the range of activism narrows to immigration, foreign policy, and the solipsistic goal of sustaining the conservative movement itself. This is good for keeping Beltway institutions well funded but bad for the actual work of conservatism.
As the Omni Shoreham’s staff disassembled the exhibit hall, the young Republicans repaired to Capitol Hill for the last party of the weekend, Reaganpalooza, where organizers urged everyone to “Drink one for the Gipper.” A handful of anti-McCainiacs ordered stiff shots and argued over whether they could vote Republican in the fall. “It’s an anti-Obama vote, that’s all,” one offered. “But on immigration, McCain is against us. And on the war he’s against public opinion,” said another. But soon enough they swallowed their doubts and began dancing to the music, determined to celebrate a president who left office before some of them were born. The band never stopped playing on the Titanic either.
By Rev. Dr. Tommy Davis
Reflecting on black history month I care to be reminded of the foundational advancements that clever African-Americans made in our society. Not only were their precedents valuable, they were made in the midst of malicious discrimination and prior to the enactment of some civil rights laws; as in the case of John Hyman, a former slave born in North Carolina who was elected as a Republican to the 44th Congress in March of 1877. In spite of being sold to slaveholders in Alabama, the Honorable Hyman overcame the disgrace of prior captivity and took on a political career after the culmination of the Civil War. His political influence would surpass ten years.
Further inspiration should be the appointment of Jeremiah Haralson —born a slave on a Georgia plantation in 1846; self educated, yet was elected as a Republican to the 44th Congress in 1875 where he served for two years. This Alabama representative, also a minister, was raised in servitude and did not consider failure as an option.Jefferson Franklin Long, also born a slave on a Georgia plantation in 1836, was elected to the 41st Congress as a Republican in 1870. Who knows, while a slave, whether The Honorable Long thought he would be Georgia’s first black Congressman.
Edward Brooke, an African-American Republican from Massachusetts, was the first black man elected to the Senate in 1966 by a popular vote even though three centuries had passed since Massachusetts in 1641 was the first colony to legalize the slave trade. Senator Brooke had also served as attorney general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts after having been elected in 1962; and then reelected in 1964, the same year of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
There are many more African-American notables in the archives that would dismantle the contemporary myths that the primary reasons blacks lag behind is due to systemic racism. I see more evidence that would allow me to suppose that some pause at the rear due to erroneous expectations from government intervention coupled with a paternalistic analysis of economics and leadership.The honorable mentioned share some key components. They took responsibility for their lives, obtained an education, and participated in government by becoming a personal contributor to influence change. They understood that by becoming key players in authority they could limit the effects of inequity. The solution here was not additional legislation, but participation in enforcing the laws already on the books.
When the Republicans sought to protect southern blacks by passing the Civil Rights bill of 1866, they had to override President Johnson’s veto. The same Congress subsequently drafted the Fourteenth Amendment (ratified in 1868) that nullified the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that said slaves nor descendants of liberated slaves could become citizens.
Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment also terminated the Three-Fifths Compromise that counted five slaves as three persons for the purposes of apportioning the number of representatives to Congress from southern states. Sometime thereafter, in March of 1877, Frederick Douglas who escaped a Maryland plantation, eventually became the first black to receive a chief government appointment by being named U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia.
Black history month would serve well as a remembrance of men like Thurgood Marshall, the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and the Honorable Clarence Thomas, our current conservative Bush Sr. appointee, who believed that in order to create a level playing field, we must be in a position to put into effect and translate into reality the principles that would confirm that all men are created equal. Hence, the primary legacy of black history month should be to accept no excuses for failure and always be determined to become an asset within our communities.