Where common ground starts
By Tom Purcell
Published: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
“It's no wonder many Americans are uneasy about the way President Obama is growing our government and eroding our liberties. Aren't most Americans conservative?”
“That is correct. Every year, Gallup does a survey on political ideology and it generally finds that 40 percent of Americans describe themselves as conservative, whereas half as many describe themselves as liberal.”
“Yeah, and some liberals think that all conservatives are religious-right, government-hating racist extremists, which is foolhardy. I'm a lifelong Democrat. I'm also what might be called conservative.”
“Democrat and conservative?”
“It can be done. Like the majority of Americans, I'd go for a balanced-budget amendment to get our spending in order. Like most Americans, I don't spend more than I make and am careful to save for a rainy day.”
“Well, Gallup did another poll last November that compared Democrats and Republicans. It asked them if they have a positive or negative view about capitalism, the federal government and socialism. The majority of Republicans favored capitalism, but had a dismal view of the government and socialism, whereas the Democrats who were polled were much more favorable toward government and socialism than they were toward capitalism.”
“I suppose so. You have to figure the more liberal Americans tend to be registered as Democrats, and the more conservative Americans as Republicans, but there are still a good number of Democrats like me who want commonsense policies that bring badly needed order to our government.”
“As a Democrat, you surely think Republicans are too hard on welfare recipients.”
“Nope. The welfare reform plan the Republicans pushed and President Clinton signed into law was one of the most effective domestic reform policies ever — though just before the last election, President Obama tossed out the work requirements that were the heart of the policy. Welfare was designed to help the indigent, not the able-bodied. And right now, way too many able-bodied people are getting too many government freebies.”
“That is a fair point, too. The nutrition assistance program — it used to be referred to as the food stamp program — has doubled to $80 billion a year under Obama. College kids from well-to-do families qualify for the free grub and are happy to accept it.”
“That's right. Doesn't everyone know someone who is gaming the system and feels no shame in doing so? One fellow I know of got his girlfriend pregnant when he was 19. They now have two children and the government gives her free grub, free utilities, a nice apartment and many other niceties. The young fellow lives with her. If the two were to marry, they would lose most of their benefits. I am a Democrat and I am disgusted by such things.”
“Maybe we ought to stop separating ourselves along rigid ideological lines and come together to press our dirty rotten legislators to address the very real problems we face. Spending is the elephant in the living room, but Obama is offering up no plans to trim it, and few news outlets are doing much to make voters aware of the severity of this problem.”
“That is a good thought. Regardless of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, we will all go down together. Any sixth-grader can see we are on an unsustainable spending path that is going to blow up in our faces in the very near future.”
“So how do we come together to make our legislators address these problems? Americans are more divided now than they have been in many years.”
“Well, if more people would engage in civil conversations like we just did, that would be a good place to start.”
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