The three major Democrat candidates for President shared the stage recently before the Communications Workers of America. All three shared their vision for an America where a huge socialist government becomes a knight on a white horse that rides into the lives of individuals, rescuing them from the curse of capitalism. In their America, the only way people can prosper or even take care of their basic needs is to depend on opportunity provided for them by the government.
Senator Barack Obama accused President Bush of "social Darwinism" which he defined as "a strategy that basically says government has no role to play in making sure that America is for all people and not just for some." He went on to say that government research and investment is what has made advances possible in the United States.
One must wonder exactly how Senator Obama sees the Bush Administration as social Darwinists. The term "social Darwinism" first appeared in Europe in an 1879 article written by Oscar Schmidt published in Popular Science. The term was a reflection of the writings of English philosopher Herbert Spencer and is a quasi-philosophical, quasi-religious, quasi-sociological view which applies the theory of biological evolution to sociology. It was popularized in this country in 1944 by American historian Richard Hofstadter whose book, Social Darwinism and American Thought was published at the height of WWII. Without going into all the ins and outs of the theory in it's boiled down form, social Darwinism is the application of the survival of the fittest portion of Darwin's thought to society. Those who are considered to be the privileged class with the benefits of adequate salary and a quality education will survive while the poorer class and the uneducated will be weeded out.
In his speech Obama suggested that Bush's targeted tax cuts are an attempt to "divvy up the government into individual tax breaks" which lead to the survival of those the government considers to be the most worthy. There are many problems with this accusation but for the sake of argument I will mention only three. First, the Bush Administration tax breaks have not produced a protected class but have proven to be a boon to the economy as a whole. Allowing people to keep more of their money raises their standard of living and motivates them to excel. No one wants to work hard for the money only to see the lion's share of the fruit of their labor end up in the hands of the government.
Second, the tax cuts were spread over a wide spectrum of the economy. If the Bush Administration really wanted to target the elite to benefit from their tax program they missed their mark, and instead have pushed a tax policy that benefits all levels of society. Home ownership and disposable income, two very good measures of economic security, have increased dramatically under the Bush tax structure.
Finally, if Obama's point is bigger government he should love the Bush Administration. The senator from Illinois can hardly make the case that the expansion of Medicare, which represents a huge extension of the entitlement mentality, is in any way related to the survival of the fittest. It seems to me the Bush Administration has gone out of its way (and way beyond what any fiscal conservative would want) to increase rather than decrease the nation's safety net. True compassionate conservatism extends help to those who are down with one hand while helping them get back on their feet with the other.
What is amazing to me is that every now and then, committed liberals pull back the curtain and allow us to see what really motivates them. For both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton the motivation appears to be a commitment to European socialism where the government is the best and only answer to every problem faced by society. Speaking at the same gathering, Senator Clinton said she wished the president had used the unity the country experienced after 911 to pursue energy independence and universal health care. She said, "We were waiting for the president to seize the moment to say, let's take this time let's become energy independent so we're not sending money to the people who fund those who turn around and attack us."
Try to imagine this scenario……you have President Bush standing on a pile of rubble that was the World Trade Center with a bullhorn in his hand but instead of rallying the nation to strengthen our defense against attacks and pursing our attackers; he calls us to pass universal heath care and the funding of alternative fuel sources. Only a committed socialist would look at the havoc created by 911 and see the unity created as an opportunity for bigger government. Do we really want people who think this way to be in charge of our security?
Finally, there is a Christian worldview that should be considered here. Believers in Jesus Christ who understand the depravity of the human heart after the fall should reject the idea of a huge, monolithic, all consuming, all providing government. We, like our nation's founders, should understand the depravity of mankind and the need for "we the people" not some impersonal, impassionate, government structure to be in charge. Sinful human beings will always be tempted to use power to benefit the few at the expense of the many. History is littered with the remains of regimes of despotic dictators who began by promising the government would help if we little people would only get out the way. What every American must remember is the best government is a government that protects us and provides a stable environment where people can use their God given abilities to flourish and then gets out of the way. Those same people, motivated by compassion rather than compelled by the state, will continue to make America into the most giving, caring nation the world has ever seen.
Dr. Tony Beam is Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.