By Lynn Paris
No Big Government, Except . . .
Excuse me, but I can’t seem to get off this topic. I’m just SO confused about where Republicans actually stand on big government spending and intervention. For the last year all I’ve heard about (and written about, especially when it came to health care reform) was how big government was trying to take over our lives, how passage of the health care bill would usher in Armageddon and how Obama and friends were bankrupting the country. “We want our country back,” they cried, as though someone had taken it from them. Which country do they want back, exactly? The bright shiny one that the Obama administration inherited? Or maybe it’s some fantasy-country they think they remember from their childhood.
At any rate, conservatives have done nothing but complain about redistributing the wealth. I still can’t seem to get my head around that, since it’s been clearly demonstrated that most of those who HAVE the wealth came by it in highly immoral, if not illegal ways. But, most limited government politicians have made public displays of wanting no part of Recovery Act dollars or stimulus funds, which have, in fact, created thousands of jobs across the country. They accept it, of course, even as they claim it’s an attack on everything from state’s rights to individual liberty. I wonder how much the guys working on the much-needed expansion of Highway 6 from Houston to College Station are thinking about their loss of liberty. I bet they’re thinking more about how good it is to be bringing home a pay check again.
Still, we are all worried about the deficit, and about the debt we’re leaving for our children and grandchildren. It’s not like anyone thinks that’s a GOOD thing. It’s just that some of us realize that there are some things that only the federal government can do—like try to regulate Wall Street so they can’t rip us off quite so easily again. There are things that qualify as emergencies or national disasters . . . like catapulting into a Great Depression or having millions of uninsured Americans, or a massive oil spill growing bigger every hour . . . that call for some big government intervention.
But not according to a new movement I unfortunately came across on Facebook the other day. I was scanning my home page when I noticed that a friend had joined the group “Billboards Against Obama.” Even as I felt my irritation mounting, I couldn’t help but click on the link. I had to see how bad it was, kind of like the urge to stare at a car wreck. And it was bad.
Not bad because this group of self-proclaimed patriots is protesting health care reform or government regulation; they have the right to do that. But bad because this group, like so many of the teabaggers, is using distortion, innuendo and implication to create even more divisiveness in the country and fear among the gullible. Here are a few sample billboards: “S.O.S. STOP OBAMA’S SOCIALISM;” “DEFEAT OBAMA’S RADICAL AGENDA;” and “TAKE AMERICA BACK NOW!”
Radical Agenda? Socialism? Jeez, we didn’t even get a public option, much less universal health care like every other civilized nation has. I KNOW the people behind all of this can’t really be that ignorant, so I guess it all comes down to politics or hate. They either want to win and will use whatever lies and distortions they believe will get them there, or they hate Obama. It can’t be because they are actually against government programs, because that would mean they’d have to complain about, and refuse to utilize Medicare, the public school system, national parks, state universities, our highway system, fire brigades, NASA, government sponsored research (which is most research for curing disease, counter-terrorism, alternative energy, etc.)
In fact, one of the funniest signs I’ve seen is “Tell the Government to take its hands off my Medicare!” which, as Obama quipped, was the same as saying “Tell the government to take its hands off my government-run health care!”
So imagine the irony of having to turn to the government after you’ve been a part of the above-described movement, because you suddenly face a crisis you realize that only the federal government is big enough to fix.
Like Republican Senator David Vitter who wrote that federal officials should protect and clean up the coast after the massive oil spill. What about the small government governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida who all want the federal government to mobilize more National Guard troops to aid in the cleanup. That followed a request from the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal (R), who issued a statement saying he had called the Obama administration to ask "for additional resources." Said Jindal: "These resources are critical."
Government resources are critical? Gee . . . ya think so? But I thought you hated handouts from the federal government. Won’t some of my tax dollars have to be used to clean up your coast? Slow down a minute while I decide if I want any of my wealth distributed to your socialist radical agenda. It’s so ridiculous it makes me want to cry.
And it makes me wish that Obama’s commencement address at the University of Michigan were required reading for everyone in this country. In case you missed it, here’s just one quote from that speech from our president, Barack Obama, the President of the United States:
"There are some things we can only do together, as one nation... So what we should be asking is not whether we need a 'big government' or a 'small government,' but how we can create a smarter, better government."
I wish with all my heart that the people busy making billboards against Obama would use their free time to work on that instead. And they should do it some time after they accept government funds for the cleanup, but before they start depending on Medicare. Because if we all don’t focus on getting better and smarter, the country they want back will be just that: a country looking backwards instead of towards the future.