During this election season that never seems to end, I've noticed that the Democratic Party is called "the party of the common man" and the Republican Party is referred to as "the party of business and industry." Is that so?
The "party of the filthy rich" was started in 1854 by abolitionists, who simply wanted to abolish slavery and prevent its expansion into the newly formed states. How could this be? I thought the GOP only backed business and industry!
In those days, the Democratic Party was called "the Slave State Party" and because of the election of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, the South seceded from the Union.
A civil war followed that would reunite the country and free the slaves. This must have been a fluke. Conservative Republicans wouldn't go against the mega-rich plantation owners, yesteryear's 1 percent.
After the Civil War, Jim Crow laws were enacted between 1876 and 1965 that mandated racial segregation. Hold on! Weren't these laws passed by Democrats? How can that be?
Wait a minute! Many years later, didn't FDR and the Democrats save us, the common folk, from the evil Republicans and pull us out of the Great Depression (which was worldwide, not just in the U.S.) with the New Deal and all those federal programs and spending? Well, not really. Despite what your crazy Uncle Jim might have told you, this was not the case.
The unemployment rate in 1932 was 23.6 percent. It trended downward, then back up, and by 1938 it was 19 percent. The run-up to, and the ultimate mobilization and fighting of, World War II is what awakened the American industrial might, and that ended the Great Depression. It was not the murals painted on Post Office walls, or the CCC camps, or National Recovery Administration, which by the way, was found to be unconstitutional.
On a side note, FDR sought to get around that by "packing" the Supreme Court. Do end runs around the Constitution by Democratic administrations sound vaguely familiar?
Later in the 1950s, President Eisenhower sent federal troops into the Democratic South to enforce integration in public schools. Really! Wasn't "Ike" a Republican president?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed major forms of discrimination against African-Americans. It was passed under President Johnson, but wouldn't have been, because 30-40 percent of Democratic congressman voted against it. Those nasty Republican lapdogs of the "Rich and Famous" voted over 80 percent in favor!
In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed with Republican congressmen voting "yea" in a higher percentage than "the party of the common man." Do we see a pattern?
The Great Society legislation of the 1960s was quite controversial, to say the least. Under Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, for the first time a person who was not elderly or disabled could receive aid from the American government. Aid could include general welfare payments, health care through Medicaid, food stamps, special payments for pregnant women and young mothers, and federal and state housing benefits.
Sounds great, but from 1965 to 2008, the total spent on welfare for the poor in 2008 dollars has been nearly $16 trillion, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Robert Rector of Heritage reports that this spending has been more than all spending on all military conflicts from the American Revolution to today.
What have we accomplished with our $16 trillion? Not nearly enough! The father figure in the family, the breadwinner, has been replaced with food stamps, welfare payments, public housing and Medicaid.
Is this Democratic piece of legislation responsible for 66 percent of African-American families, 41 percent of Hispanic families, and 24 percent of white families being headed by single moms? I believe it is. These shameful statistics were not the case in the '40s, '50s, and '60s. In those decades the great majority of homes were two-parent families.
Thanks to "the party of the common man" a breadwinner was no longer needed and sadly, the welfare state is passed from one fatherless generation to the next.
Ponder this. More than 30 years ago, I was in a local bank arranging a loan for a farmer, and the old bank president sat back in his leather-bound chair and said, "Young man, you know I could ruin you." "How could you do that?" I asked.
Staring me in the eye, he said, "All I would have to do is have you come to the bank each Friday and give you $100 (which was a lot of money 30 years ago). Pretty soon you'd quit your job and before long, you wouldn't even come to the bank! You'd call me and ask if I would drop off your $100 on my way home. It's human nature. Chances are by not working, you'd lose respect for yourself and your family life would deteriorate. Soon you'd be divorced and your children would be without a full-time father."
I often think about that crusty old gent, and he's right. Although probably well-intentioned and nicely packaged, the Democratic Party is institutionalizing the common man into dependent mediocrity.
Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.