Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNC Convention: What's Wrong with this Picture?

So far to this jaded observer, the most striking aspect of the festivities has been the rank narcissism. Was a time, you got a nice little bio of the presidential nominee; nowadays, you get both a panegyric to and a loving portrait of the nominee, his spouse, the also ran he defeated, his vice presidential nominee, and the family cat, not to mention the slightly tarnished lion of the party. I'm struck by the lack of issues- with the exception of universal health coverage.

Do not kid yourself, the nomination of Obama signifies the triumph of the entitlement generation. The other day, I caught him on TV saying that his mother had received government assistance-food stamps, maybe- because she was a single mother trying to work and go to school to make a better life for Obama and his siblings. At first, I accepted it at face value. How nice. Then I got to thinking. So my father was working the overnight shift six days a week in a textile factory to give not only his family a better life, but also Obama's? That didn't sit as well.

It's the same with this much vaunted healthcare coverage which will, in essence, be asking someone who makes forty thousand a year to shoulder the burden for someone who makes eighty thousand. We won't even go into the potential abuses once something is free, like the midnight ride in an ambulance to the hospital for a sore throat. Sure, reform is need, but once we add another head to the government entitlement hydra, who knows? And once passed, however unfortunate the consequences, there is no going back.

I am a populist at heart, but there is a difference between believing in the inherent dignity of the individual and a level playing field and having a "soak the rich" mentality. I believe that there should be checks to power. I believe that there should be a social safety net, but only for the truly hard-pressed. It should be for people who will fall through without assistance. But there is also hard luck and there are also bad decisions in life. The question is how far the government is supposed to extend its helping hand and who is going to pay for that reach. The answer here is becoming increasingly apparent. At a time when Western European governments are pulling back from such socialist tendencies, this party would have us go toward them.

I look at all of these people on the convention floor: some who will benefit, some who have so much they can easily afford to subsidize whole towns, and some who are letting their partisanship and/or antipathy for Bush lead them in a direction they will come to regret. So tonight the one will pronounce from the Olympian heights. I probably won't watch, although the fascination of the train wreck may overcome me. If not I'm sure there's a Law & Order rerun somewhere. I can only hope that in the long run common sense and not the increased enervation of this country will prevail.

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