My Grandpa, to this day, speaks of his many years in the Democratic (DFL) Party here in Minnesota, and more specifically, the southern Minneapolis precinct. He, and to an even greater extent my late Grandma, were very active in school board, union, and DFL politics for a good part of 35 years.
Often times, when we find ourselves lamenting over the Neo-Conservative agenda that prevails in the Republican Party as of late, he talks of the differences between “Old” Republicans and “New” Republicans. The story he uses to illustrate the difference is something similar to this:
The “New” Republicans are all about lowering taxes and reducing government. They believe the money can be better spent by businesses and/or constituents in order to employ people, produce products and drive the economy. You often here the mantra, “It’s MY money - I earned it” They take a very shallow view of their lives. They didn’t get a check from the government every month - thus they don’t see all of the support they received to get to the place they are today. Did they drive on a road to get to work everyday? Did they receive a public education? Did their employees receive a public education? Do they rely on the police to enforce order?
The truth is they only earned the money because of the entire infrastructure provided by taxes and their government disbursers.
The “Old” Republicans would certainly look to reduce the size of government, but would realize that government is more of an enabler of business than a tax upon their business. Instead of just looking to reduce taxes, they would look at the value obtained for the money spent and try to direct it where it could benefit his business constituents the most. You need to spend money to support infrastructure: businesses needed good roads and highways in order to move their product efficiently, businesses needed good schools in order to get graduates to employ, businesses needed police and social welfare to ensure order so consumers felt safe spending their money, etc.
My grandpa goes on to explain that, at the time, it was this shared belief between the Republicans and Democrats in making government WORK instead of just shrinking it made it much easier to come to compromise and use the tax dollars that were collected efficiently.
This post over at iamericka linked to this wonderful interview over at City Pages with Dave Durenberger. In the interview, he laments over the very same change from an “Old” Republican’s perspective. It was incredibly fascinating to see a perspective from inside the Republican party over the same change my Grandpa has identified time and time again as one of the reasons we see politics devolving over the past 10-15 years.
It’s a measure of how far the Neo-Cons have infiltrated the GOP since Durenberger, who left the Senate only a decade ago, says he could never get the endorsement of the GOP today to run for office.