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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Blue-Dog populism wrong for America

    David Franciscolumnist
    David Francis

    Swing voters in last month’s congressional elections had a number of issues on their minds: Iraq and institutionalized corruption, to name a few. Of course, unrest in Iraq and stories like those of former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley led many such voters to switch their allegiance from the party in control and give the Democrats a shot at running Capitol Hill. Mere weeks after the voting ended, incoming congressional leaders have done their best to remind us why it has been so long since Americans have known a Democratic majority.

    Despite electing liberal San Francisco Rep. Nancy Pelosi to the leadership role in the House of Representatives, the incoming majority will be less representative of her ideologies than those of Sens.-elect Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey. Representing Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively, the freshmen represent traditional “”Blue-Dog”” Democrats prevalent in their steel-belt states. Additionally, incoming Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester represent Missouri and Montana: Midwestern states hardly willing to allow their senators to hold hands with Democratic leaders on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

    “”The incoming majority must bear in mind that government is not to be used as a tool of social engineering.””

    With these issues likely to receive less consideration during the incoming Congress, exactly how do Democrats plan to utilize their newfound leadership role?

    Unfortunately, the prevalence of so-called “”Blue Dogs”” in the next Congress means more government intervention in American public life. Less concerned with gay marriage than advancing socioeconomic populism, the Democrats of the 110th Congress will aim to combat what they perceive as a growing gap between those who have “”made it”” and those who haven’t.

    Recent comments made by prominent Democrats such as Reps. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Rahm Emmanuel, D-Ill., reveal a worrying aspect of the incoming majority’s agenda: The use of government for the purpose of social engineering.

    Rangel’s draft comments last month exhibit this philosophy. Discouraged by what he told the press was a disproportionate amount of minorities serving abroad, Rangel introduced a bill that would reinstate the military draft – believing that only a draft would ensure fair racial representation in the military.

    But a recent Congressional Research Service report takes some steam out of Rangel’s argument. While he and others shout that minorities are too often put in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report reveals that in fact 73.5 percent of all to-date deaths in Iraq were of non-Hispanic white ancestry, while recent census data reveals that non-Hispanic whites make up only 62 percent of the general population. Nonetheless, Rep. Rangel saw it fit to play race politics by griping about imaginary institutionalized racism.

    Still, though white deaths are in fact a disproportionately large percentage of casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom, that doesn’t mean the government should attempt to ensure parity by forcing blacks or Hispanics into service. In the same way, despite the fact that a Heritage Foundation report shows wealthier recruits constituting a larger and larger percentage of military enlistees, officials shouldn’t try to reverse this trend in the name of equality.

    Perhaps a draft will one day prove necessary, but government must never attempt to use it as a tool of social engineering as Rangel did.

    Democratic leaders also aim to engineer the eradication of what they perceive as a growing wealth gap in America. It is expected that Democrats will attempt to reverse this trend by reverting to their old populist ways and more heavily taxing wealthy Americans – but Democrats shouldn’t fear the success of prosperous Americans. Instead of punishing prosperity, shouldn’t the incoming majority look for ways to ensure the prosperity of middle-class and needy Americans?

    Inflation-adjusted personal income has risen by nearly 4 percent over the last year, and Democrats should ensure continued prosperity by enacting policy designed to raise all boats – if in doing so the rich do even better than the rest of us, it really is OK.

    There’s nothing wrong with prosperity; any attempt to engineer a more equal society by picking the pockets of the successful and redistributing the wealth is un-American and borders on the Marxist. The purpose of taxation is to raise money for public services, not to ensure financial equality – and Democrats would do well to remember this.

    The incoming majority must bear in mind that government is not to be used as a tool of social engineering. Using the draft or tax policy to further often flimsy norms of justice or evenhandedness is imprudent and would be examples of government interventionism gone awry.

    After all, as President Ronald Reagan so aptly quipped: “”The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.””

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at

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