Republican speeches: part 3
Here is yet another speech I wish I had heard at the Republican National Convention.
We are in Cleveland. I don't know much about Cleveland municipal politics, but about 300 or 400 miles west of here is Chicago. It's politics are renowned, or at least well known. The TV show "The Chicago Code" had the line: "Corruption in Chicago is like pizza: other cities do it, but they don't do it as well." Four out of eight Illinois governors went to prison for corruption. That's an impressive record, in a perverse sort of way.
Why is politics in Chicago so corrupt when nearby States such as Wisconsin and Minnesota have relatively honest politics? Not perfectly honest, because corruption is everywhere, but considerably better than Chicago. Political scientists have looked at the question and concluded that it has to do with how politics is organized. In Wisconsin and Minnesota, politics is ideological. We have a conservative Republican party and a liberal Democratic party. In Chicago politics is based on ethnic groups. There are Irish wards, Polish wards, African American wards and so forth. Politics consists of getting support from the various groups. This means giving favors to each group. Politics as an exchange of favors promotes corruption.
What's disturbing is that the Chicago style of politics, what we could call "the Chicago way" seems to be spreading to the federal government. There is increasing use of identity politics and spreading influence of special interests.
Here are two examples of the power of special interests, one from each party. When the Republican party took power in 2001, one of the campaign promises was to abolish the death tax. That didn't happen. The reason was the life insurance industry wouldn't allow it. Life insurance benefits aren't taxable, so people have an incentive to buy life insurance and the insurance companies have an incentive to keep the death tax.
On the Democratic side, their core support comes from African Americans. One of the priorities of that community is school choice. The Democrats have refused to act on it. The reason is that the teachers' union won't allow it.
Both parties sell out their base to pay off their special interests.
America's economy has been growing more slowly than the rest of the world for decades. Each year we lose more ground. While the ship slowly sinks, those in charge fight over the remaining wealth. The lobbyists try to get favors from the government: subsidies, tax breaks, regulations. When they succeed, they say "I got mine. Too bad about the country."
When we ask what happened to American greatness, we should look back not fifty or sixty years to when America ruled the world, but more than two hundred years to when the whole thing began. The framers of the Constitution asked "Why are we creating a federal government? What is its purpose? How can it be constrained to its rightful functions? What is the purpose of America? Why are we here?"
We tend to focus on the details of government. We need to lift our gaze to the transcendent principles that we try to live by.