In the past, the terms Democrat and Republican suggested ideological differentiation: where Democrats were proponents of social welfare and secularism, Republicans were assumed to be religious and supporters of laissez-faire capitalism.
But today this is not so. Politicians of every breed have embraced collectivist populism as each party scrambles to curry favor with the people, abandoning both consistency and ethics. This topsy-turvy attitude occurs when Republicans decry oil companies for price gouging, or when Democrats condemn free speech. The divide between red and blue has faded. These days, it forms the ripe purple of a bruise – an apropos color for an ailing nation.
Because of this, Floridians in particular must adopt a sort of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude toward politics at both the local and national levels.
Consider the gubernatorial race as an example of this unnerving trend.
Candidate Charlie Crist promises to be a “Jeb Bush Republican,” which basically equates to a small-government “Reaganite.” Some of Crist’s dictums are nevertheless reminiscent of a leftist, or worse, a member of the health lobby.
In a Tampa Tribune report, Crist explains he “will require physical education every day for every student.” He also wants to create more bureaucracy and form a State Surgeon General’s Office to popularize preventative medicine. The coup de grace, of course, is that Crist pledges to add more money to the Florida KidCare program, as does Democratic opponent Jim Davis, leaving proponents of small government like me scratching their heads.
It is important to note that Crist intends to fund his plans with money from the state’s budget surplus. This proposal, however, doesn’t quite equate with his promised fiscal restraint. What a surplus would signify to an official truly concerned with fiscal constraint is that the state is taking in too much money from its already strapped citizens – the same citizens who are begging their elected officials to reform the property tax system that puts their very home ownership in jeopardy.
Still, Davis isn’t exactly a catch. One plus about Davis, though, is that he’s “pro-choice” – meaning that, apart from his other ills, I can at least count on him not to interfere with my physical rights. Davis, however, doesn’t grasp the intricacies of national security or economics. He opposes offshore drilling in Florida, an activity that would reduce the United States’ oil dependency from OPEC states rife with anti-U.S. sentiment. Davis also voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, which, as even cursory analyses of price ceilings and floors demonstrate, cuts workers at the $5.15 an hour skill level out of the market.
Furthermore, Jim Davis dedicates several “On the Issues” threads specifically to “African American” and “Latinos” on his campaign Web site. This is because Democrats still uphold the notion that people of different ethnicities have inherently divergent interests, attitudes and abilities. Despite the chilling, abject racism of such politicking, it is tragicomic that Davis does not discuss the minorities who will not garner him votes, such as American Indians and Asians.
The U.S. Senate race doesn’t hold much promise, either. By the way Republican candidate Katherine Harris berates the separation of church and state, it would seem her plan for America is to render it a Christian theocracy. Despite her business acumen, she also lacks a grasp of economics and even goes so far as to propose a 23 percent sales tax to overhaul the system.
Yet this “Fair Tax” initiative, as it is commonly referred to, is as inane as the federal income tax, for loopholes exist in “Fair Tax” that put the taxpayer at risk. In order to no longer pay Federal Income Tax, as Harris promises, there would have to be another constitutional amendment – ratified by both two-thirds of Congress as well as 75 percent of the states – to repeal the 16th Amendment, which enacted income tax in the first place. What this means for consumers is that unless the 16th Amendment is repealed before the passage of a federal sales tax, there exists the veritable, legal possibility of paying both federal income and sales taxes.
Democratic candidate Bill Nelson also doesn’t “get” tax reform. His plan is to make U.S. corporations pay their “fair share” of taxes, even though America’s high corporate tax rate and archaic auditing laws like Sarbanes-Oxley both foster labor outsourcing.
Although arguments could be made that I’m being too harsh, too general or that I’m just surveying a handful of candidates running for an even smaller pallet of offices, it remains that Floridians are in a political pickle this election day. It also remains that the common adage “choose the lesser evil” does indeed fall short of proper decision-making. The evils represented by these candidates do not exist in degree but rather in delineation.
Victoria Bekiempis is a sophomore majoring in history and French.