Politics has become just another sporting event. I half expect to find people with body paint and foam fingers at the next political rally, along with guys throwing peanuts and beers to the spectators. As such, one’s team, so to speak, has become far more important than it should be. Unlike sports, policy making is not a zero sum game, or at least it shouldn’t be.
Unfortunately, for many people, politics has been reduced to saying that “My team is the best, and your’s sucks!” rather than evaluating policy and determining what works based on actual evidence and experience. I’ve noticed this tends to be especially true once people move to the far ends of the political spectrum, which make up the base of both of our current political teams.
It is for this reason that I’m proposing that we give those two organizations over to those that want to play politics at the schoolyard level and create a viable third party called the Responsible Adult Party (RAP).
We used to have technocrats in both parties, people who were selected for their ability, knowledge, and experience to actually figure out how to solve our problems. At some point those qualities were subordinated to taking one for the team. We used to have people who actually thought that making things work for everybody rather than a favored few was the job of government. Not so much anymore.
I read something a while back that really expressed what our current political environment is about. The writer said that the essence of politics has become providing privileges to an in group and denying protections to the out group. This in a lot of ways relates to the definition of “Big Government” that is used by many. Big Government is big enough to keep me from doing what ever I please, while being too small to keep other people from doing things I don’t approve of.
To avoid this, I’d like to propose the following, which I call the Pragmatist Manifesto. I do want to stress that I’m not stockpiling assault rifles or explosives, like the creators of other manifestos. This is as much aspirational as anything.
- Policy is to be made based on evidence, not ideology. If we don’t know if something works, then we create a small experiment to see if it works before we lay out millions and billions of dollars only to find that our basic premise was wrong.
- Paying taxes is the price of participating in our democracy. Having skin in the game is important. Progressive tax rates merely reflect that those who received the most benefit should contribute the most in return. Claiming that taxes are a form of theft is akin to wanting to get into a football game without buying a ticket.
- Tax policy should be about providing carrots for putting money back into the economy and sticks for hoarding it.
- Tax benefits for corporations or any other entity should be based on provable results, and only granted after those results have been realized. If you want to build a factory or headquarters in a community, then build it. If you create the jobs you claimed when you proposed the factory, then you can get your benefits. If you fail, then you’re still on the hook.
- Corporations aren’t people, never were, and don’t deserve the same rights as us living breathing citizens.
- If you want to run for President, you must first pass a basic civics test (could be the test to become a naturalized citizen) and a test on government ethics (Hatch Act, etc)
- Pay as you go. If you feel that something is worth spending money on, then either cut spending elsewhere or raise revenue. Don’t play political games with things you’ve already committed to.
- Freedom of Religion includes freedom from religion. Running government based on religious belief runs the risk of government running religion based on political beliefs. That experiment has been tried repeatedly and has never turned out well.
- Rights come with responsibilities. Someone else getting rights doesn’t take yours away. It’s not pie. (not original with me)
- Everyone who lives in the United States has something to contribute. When we try to exclude anyone based on race, creed, orientation, or any other quality we risk losing out on that contribution.