What I knew about the differing principles of the Republican and Democratic parties was based on one sentence from a high school history class that basically stated that the democrats were for change, while the republicans wanted to maintain the status quo. I did not think much about this elementary definition until I witnessed the immediately apparent unorthodox presidency of Donald J. Trump. Did his unpresidential behavior including bullying, name-calling, racism and misogyny among other behaviors represent Republican principles?
To help answer this question, I read Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and A Return to Principle by Jeff Flake. Between the information in this book and an internet search I compiled this list of Republican Principles.
- Smaller government to preserve the sanctity of the individual.
- Support the federalist system of government meaning less federal government and more state control. Against centralized government.
- Fiscal conservatism, limited taxation and government spending to ensure greater individual liberty.
- Strong national defence.
- Individual liberties, responsibilities and duties.
- Tolerance, inclusiveness and responsibilities.
Following this list of enumerated principles was an additional paragraph that added free enterprise, and equal rights, justice and opportunity for all including persons with disabilities, and human rights.
An additional internet search, found the following Democratic Principles.
- More regulation, universal healthcare.
- Provide services for the poor. High earners pay higher percentage of taxes.
- Equal rights for LGTB persons. Support for Roe vs. Wade. Embryonic stem cell research. Regulate right to bear arms.
- Government should protect the people. Protecting every individual for an equal society sometimes at the expense of economic freedom.
Following this list of enumerated principles was additional qualifying paragraph. Democrats believe that parties motivated by self-interest are willing to behave in ways harmful to society unless government is prepared and empowered to constrain them. Regulation is necessary when individuals, corporations and industries pursue financial gain at an intolerable cost to society and become too powerful to be constrained by other social institutions. Democrats value educators and trust science.
Since President Trump changed his political party more than a half a dozen times during his adult life, he doesn’t seem to hold to either set of principles. Apparently, he is an opportunist that used each of the parties only when they served his own interests. As a result of this lack of principled leadership, maybe we need to come with a set of human principles.
Is appearance, achievement and affluence at all costs including ethics, morals, relationships and the environment the most important American value? Is excess and conspicuous consumption worth blatant exploitation? Is it about being the greatest country in the world or about being the greatest individual in the world? The greatest country in the world should be first in human and civil rights, education, opportunity, healthcare, tolerance, science, technology, and a high standard of living for all citizens. This can not be achieved by a great individual, but only by a great country. How we can accomplish this is harder question!