Saturday, July 14, 2007

Basic Conservatism & Political Pistachio Radio

Today, I'd like to discuss two things: (1) basic conservatism; (2) my comments to Douglas Gibbs, of Political Pistachio radio (see blogroll), about my appearance (July 28) on his show:

Basic Conservatism (Health Care)

From time to time, I’ll write my thoughts about conservatism in the 21st century.

Any decent political philosophy in a free society must emphasize having people do as much for themselves as possible. When individuals become too dependent on an elected government, it destroys the relationship between the governed and the governors. When large groups of people become excessively dependent on government, the society becomes increasingly less free.

In all candor, you won’t hear that from Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. They genuinely believe that government consists largely of redistributing income – mainly TO their supporters FROM the supporters of others. Of course, they don’t explain it that way. Instead, they talk about “doing good for people.”

With an issue like health care, they point out that number of people without health insurance might total 47 million. (Admittedly, that figure is an exaggeration, but let that pass for now.)

What they don’t note is the number they use means the people with some form of health coverage must total 253 million (with the U.S. population being 300 million).

Is their solution to provide care to the 47 million uninsured? No, it’s to provide coverage (through some form of universal health care) to all 300 million. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. If your roof leaks, you fix it. You don’t start to restore the entire house from the foundation up.

There IS a problem with health care in the U.S., a fact we conservatives sometimes fail to acknowledge. However, the problem exists mainly for 15% of Americans, not for everyone.

Democrats tend to focus on the doughnut hole – the 47 million – and not on the doughnut, the 253 million. They emphasize fixing both the problem and the non-problem. They demand a universal solution to a localized matter.

Another thing the Democrats do – and Michael Moore is a major ally – is to suggest that their proposals will make health care free. The other night on CNN, filmaker Moore insisted that health care in other developed countries (Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Cuba, and the like) is FREE. You get sick; you go to the doctor or hospital; you get care; and you don’t get a bill.

Free, right? No, wrong. The countries I mentioned expend trillions of dollars in tax revenues on health care. It’s not in any sense free. It comes out of the taxes people pay. In most of those countries, people who can afford it also are paying for private coverage, because they don’t get the care they want from the public system.

We conservatives have not done a good job explaining these simple facts to the American people. Somehow, we’ve fallen into the trap of appearing to be the nasty individuals who don’t want sick people to receive adequate care.

So, the Democrats generally are in denial about the costs – and the problems (such as long lines for treatment) – of universal-coverage (single-payer) systems. We Republicans occasionally tend to be in denial about the existence of a problem.

The solution is for Republicans to admit there’s a problem – one that’s finite and fixable. Then, we need to come up with effective, appealing ways to fix it. We should avoid rhetorical bluster and come up with clear, simple solutions that will allay fears on the part of voters. That’s how to win elections.

Note to Douglas Gibbs

I sent the following to Douglas Gibbs, host of Political Pistachio, where I'll appear as a guest on July 28, 2007. I'll write more about that later.

Doug, on Friday I wrote a column about vice-presidential candidates (Republican emphasis) back to Eisenhower's first-term. It was a depressing experience -- one candidate impeached and resigned (Nixon), one resigned in disgrace because of accepting bribes (Agnew), others who added little or nothing to the ticket (Goldwater's Bill Miller, George HW's Dan Quayle, and Nixon's first running mate, Henry Cabot Lodge).

Also, we had Bob Dole running for President in 1996 at age 73 with Jack Kemp, a good man but someone who never took hold nationally. Dick Cheney is a good man and more, but as I say in my column, he's been invisible much of the time, something of a "Phantom of the Opera" and he will never again be a candidate for anything. Gerald Ford was President (and managed to appoint John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court; GHW Bush appointed Souter).

Doug, what's wrong with this picture? Gee, you and I could have thrown darts at names on a board and done better.

On your show, I'd like to go through the above "VP history" (quickly, so as not to bore anybody) and point out why Sarah and some others (with real ability, character, and political futures) appeal to many -- perhaps for V-P slot now and for the presidency down the road.

Lorie Byrd had a Townhall essay a few weeks ago highlighting Michael Steele, former Lt. Gov. of MD and a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006, as somebody who should get serious consideration for V-P.

I believe Sarah should be on the ticket for V-P. However, she would be able to take over and do well as President if necessary. Being a good Prez is a question of character/honesty, energy, decisiveness, and love of country, and she has all of them. I'd say the same about Michael Steele.

I also point out in my column how the Republicans have a concept that candidates are supposed "to wait their turn," leading to a situation where Republican Prez and V-P candidates are much older than their Democrat counterparts. It's extremely unlikely that someone like a Republican version of Obama (say, a J. C. Watt or a Steele) would be a top candidate.

As for Fred Thompson, I've questioned his candidacy -- mainly because of issues related to age (he'd be 67 on Inauguration Day) and energy-level. Admittedly, age didn't work against Reagan (although it might have to a degree in the latter stages of his presidency).

It takes tremendous energy to run for President -- and to govern the country. People are always waking the Prez up in the middle of the night, and he (or she) is taking trips that would wear out most 40-year-olds.

As for someone like McCain, an American war hero with a prickly personality and a maverick streak: at the end of his second term he would be nearly 80. Admittedly, 80 now isn't what it was even a generation ago, but it's still too old to be President (for the vast majority of people). It's hard to talk candidly about this issue since we're all sensitive to offending groups (including older people), but it is a factor.

Interestingly, the Buffalo Bills hired Hall-of-Fame football coach Marv Levy as team general manager . . . at age 80. However, Marv, whom I met in 1967 at William & Mary College, is an extremely unusual octogenarian

I will send out 100 or so e-mails to Palin supporters and others asking them to listen to the show.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA


Sanity102 said...

Love your post on the unelectables...I've got a new post up on Palin...go see.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Sanity, since you're one of my favorite human beings, I always love to hear from you. Will check out your post and will comment (as usual)! Republicans have some of history's strangest choices for V-P, and I think of them when someone tells me Sarah lacks this-or-that quality. She doesn't lack anything of significance.