the Declaration of Dependance
I know. I know! We’re all getting sick of politics. I AM actually getting back to writing fiction. For the moment, I am fiddling with the novel I began about a year ago (and subsequently let sit on the shelf for a few months), tentatively titled “The Tribulation Levee”. It is a horror story, so be warned. By comparison, “The Riverhouse” was a quaint historical mystery. So.
But I still find myself in need of a place to vent my blathers about life, people, and the general state of worldly affairs. For the moment, this is still that place. So bear with me. I’ll keep this short (hah!!)
A few days ago, I overheard a discussion about politics. The specifics don’t matter. One phrase of this conversation caught in my brain and has been pecking at me ever since: “what have the Republicans ever done for the working man?”
This could have been said by my grandfather. He was a lifelong Democrat, and I recall having discussions with him that sounded a lot like this. I never knew quite how to respond to such a question; there was just something about it that felt all wrong at the core. I just couldn’t figure out what it was. When I heard the question (rhetorical, of course) posed vehemently the other day, I finally figured out what it was. The problem with the very question is so huge, so all-encompassing, that even now I’m not quite sure how to encapsulate it.
“What have the Republicans ever done for the working man?”
Since when has the working man needed anyone to “do” for him? Isn’t the whole point of being a hard working man (or woman, of course) to be able to “do” for yourself? To stand on your own two feet and take pride in your independence, your ability to make your own way? It seems to me that the true Working Man would be ashamed at the very idea that he needed a political party to *do* anything for him. The real Working Man doesn’t want to be done for. He can do for himself. All he wants is for the government to get out of his way.
When did it become a point of pride to admit that one is unable to provide for him/herself, therefore requiring the support of a matronly government? No one takes *pride* in needing to be cared for. It is impossible to be a self-respecting American individual while simultaneously proclaiming your need for the government to “do” for you.
Another way to pose the question might be this: What has the Democratic party done to the working man?
Who taught the working man that he cannot make it on his own, that he must rely on government to survive in the world? Who promotes the mentality that poverty is forever, since Capitalism is unfairly skewed towards the rich, who just want to crush you under their boot? Who preaches the idea that there is no point in trying if you are a minority, since the white male power structure hates anyone unlike them? What political ideology invented the concept of permanent victim-hood and used it to iron out all sense of self respect and independence from its adherents? Seriously, what has the Democratic party done to the American working man?
No Working Man wants to be fed. He wants to make for himself. No Working Man finds pride in dependance. He yearns simply to have the roadblocks of the government taken out of his way so he can fend for himself. And yes, this goes for the Working Woman as well.
I don’t mean to say that compassion for the poor is bad. I don’t mean to imply that all Democrats are “useful idiots”, unwittingly contributing to the cuckolding of the American spirit. My grandfather truly was a Working Man. He was never talking about himself when he asked what the government was doing for the people. If anyone had suggested that he, himself, needed the government’s assistance, he would have been mortified. Why? Because he took pride in providing by the sweat of his own brow. He would have been horrified at the idea of accepting food stamps or any other government support (despite the fact that, as a young man, he likely did know what government cheese tasted like). No, when he asked what the government was doing for the working man, he meant someone else. Not him. He was fine, but there were others less well off.
I think that’s what the majority of voting Democrats probably think: “It isn’t for me. I can make it on my own. I’m fine. But there are others who need it. What about them?”
I don’t think the average Democrat is bad, or stupid, or a parasite on society. I think they are extremely compassionate. They just want everyone to be taken care of. It seems so ineffective and clumsy for us to tackle the problems of the poor on our own– to take care of the sick, the homeless, the hungry in our own communities, one by one, teensy step by teensy step. I understand that. It feels so much better to establish a monolithic governmental entity that will do it for us on the broad scale. Yes?
The problem, though, is that the government is simply no good at taking care of people. That isn’t its job. Taking care of people is every individual’s job, not in spite of how clumsy and piecemeal it is when we do it on our own, but because of it. One on one, we can sift the sincerely needy from the potentially lazy. As individuals, we can use our social skills, our understanding of our communities, our gut instinct to help the truly impoverished. We can determine when someone needs a free meal and when someone needs a loving kick in the pants. The government can’t do that; its footprint is just too big. The government can’t do anything but throw open the doors of general assistance.
It’s the difference between feeding the hungry by hand and parking the food truck on the street with the doors open. One is a personal act of compassion, distributed with love and deliberation to those who truly need it. The other is a thoughtless waste, intended for the good of the impoverished, but most likely wasted on opportunists and looters.
The Working Man used to know this. He used to know that it was far better to do on your own when you could, and be cared for by those who know and love you when you couldn’t. But this mentality started to die when people began looking more and more to the government to care for the poor, and less and less to doing it themselves. A needy person is reluctant to abuse the charity of a neighbor, but anyone is willing to absorb free money from a faceless government. Being needy has since transformed from an unfortunate setback to a stubborn entitlement. People have lived so long as victims that they have forgotten the pride of being self sufficient.
Am I wrong? As always, I am willing to be wrong. All of this is filtered through my understanding of human nature, and through my own sense of pride in being independent. When my place of employment closed down last summer, I considered applying for unemployment benefits. I even fiddled with some of the paperwork. I quickly got disgusted with the entire idea, and determined to make it on my own instead. I decided to get into mobile gaming. I spent five months making a game, released it to iTunes with financial fumes left in my bank account, and ended up making enough money to last the rest of the year. I am (I admit) DAMN proud of myself. I would not have been proud of myself if I had instead decided to collect unemployment benefits and spend all my time applying for non-existent jobs in my industry. Surely this colors my perception. Surely this is the core of why I find the idea of government dependence ugly.
So where am I wrong? I really want to know. You, Dear Reader (if indeed you are out there) have the floor. Enlighten me.
In the meantime, I’ll try to stop blathering and get back to fiction. Promise.