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July 14, 2011

Partisan Favoritism

Perhaps you believe Downsize DC is partisan — that we have a favorite side in Washington, DC. Maybe you just read something we wrote, and it made you angry, and you think we’re one of the bad guys.

NEWS FLASH: Downsize DC is… 


Legally, we’re required to be non-partisan. Many groups share that requirement and even claim to be so. Yet it’s clear for whom they root.

We go further. We’re temperamentally anti-partisan. In fact, we hold both parties in low regard. 

As a result, we’re equal opportunity offenders. Our role is to speak truth to power and to mobilize Americans who want to be left alone — who want to see their neighbors enjoy the benefits of liberty, and the world to be in as much peace as possible. Thus, if you thought you recognized partisan favoritism in something we said, and you were offended, be assured, you imagined it — probably instinctively. After all…  

We Americans live in a two-party universe. It’s taught in school. It’s reinforced in the media (big time!). Fish may not realize they’re wet.

Similarly, Americans generally do NOT recognize how conditioned they are to see everything as either Republican or Democrat, often to the detriment of a third or fourth way of thinking about a matter.

And this way of thinking, in our opinion, is toxic. Let me explain a little about the Purpose of Parties, which is…

Organized Looting

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A democracy… can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.”

Well, I’m going to ask you to think broadly about the word “largesse.” In this instance, largesse doesn’t merely mean financial items such as a government contract, corporate or social welfare, or even a tax break. After all, political favor can take a wide variety of forms! For our purposes, “partisan largesse” means ANY benefit or privilege conferred by the State that is not shared by ALL in common.

Thus, for example, if you favor prayer in state-run schools or believe that the arts should be funded by the State, your social position benefits from partisan largesse.  

Political parties serve an important function in the largesse acquisition process. They organize support bases to collect the loot (again, whether it be financial or social).

And, they do the reverse. That is, the parties create opposition; the importance of this cannot be overstated. Fear of the other party traps in a dilemma where the politicians divide and conquer us.

Success in partisan politics comes from appealing to our worst instincts. We appear to gain by suppressing or taking from others. Whether it’s prayer or the arts — cultural war or class warfare — we MUST take sides, or we will LOSE. And worse, we will lose to bad people who will make us pray to their god or fund their art, or pay for their corporate or social welfare programs, and so on.

“Pray or pay,” that’s what they’ll make us do. We don’t like Them, and they are the Other Party.

“I’m No Looter!”

Now, you might not recognize yourself in that description.

You’re not interested in plundering your neighbors. You don’t want to make them fund your philosophical or aesthetic preferences.

Moreover, you may not like YOUR party very much. You might think that the jackasses on Capitol Hill are “Democrat-lite.” Or, you might believe that the pachyderms are really unprincipled “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only). But, like the police in the dilemma above, politicians don’t need to be loved — they just need you to be scared of the other side.

That’s why negative advertising (contrary to what the mainstream media tell you) is incredibly effective. The world run by your opponents, who can vote largesse for themselves AT YOUR EXPENSE, is not a nice place.

You don’t need to be “in on the looting,” but you certainly don’t want to be a victim of it!

Thus, more people vote against what they do NOT want, than for what they DO want. And the electorate will settle for a politician who isn’t all they hoped for — a lowest common denominator guy or gal, because…

…defeating the bad guys is what elections are really all about.

But, whoever wins, looting will still occur. Yet you will probably NEVER get what you want. Such is the toxic nature of partisanship.

Partisanship does one more pernicious thing. It creates . . .

Cognitive Dissonance

Consistency matters to Downsize DC. But not to political parties.

When one party becomes the majority, and the other the minority, they hand each other their yellowing, dog-eared scripts as they switch seats. In fact, if their roles were switched this afternoon, they’d also exchange the arguments they made this morning, and would likely do so again if we swapped their stations again the next day. Behavior that was immoral before now becomes virtue. One man’s filibuster is another man’s obstructionism. And…

  • War is okay, if our guy started it; but wrong if their guy does
  • Deficits are evil, if their party controls the budget; but necessary, if our party is running the show

In the end, parties are “avarice associations.”

Lust for power and money, the Bible instructs, is the root of all evil. And both parties end up being statist, even if they pay lip service to economic or civil liberties. The reasoning goes like this, “We can’t do any good if we’re not in power.” Thus, power becomes their highest value. 

Statism is the belief that a central planning authority can make things right — that politicians can be moral teachers and economic managers, and that they’ll bring us peace if we’ll just lend them our liberties and pay for their complicated weapons systems.

At Downsize DC, we consistently argue on behalf of individual sovereignty instead of state sovereignty. We don’t believe Newt Gingrich or Anthony Weiner are going to work out as moral teachers. We don’t believe Barack Obama or George W. Bush will make decent economic managers. We don’t trust Democrats or Republicans to bring us peace or security.

That means we MUST criticize them all, routinely, and sometimes, bluntly. But…

…when we criticize one politician, it doesn’t mean that we’ve chosen the other side. A pox on them; they’re probably wrong too!

It is the principle that matters to us — not the politicians or the parties. Always, the principle.

We so dislike both parties that we won’t consciously or purposely show favoritism. And we hope that’s a position you can respect, if not appreciate.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Jim Babka. Permission to distribute this blog post for educational purposes is granted, if done with attribution to the author and, Inc. Permission to use for commercial purposes is denied.

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