Friday, September 05, 2008

Mighty Like a Whale

John McCain’s acceptance speech last night once again showed the Republicans’ bizarre concepts of consistency. Last night McCain said this about workers whose jobs moved overseas:

For workers in industries that have been hard hit, we'll help make up part of the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid one while they receive retraining that will help them find secure new employment at a decent wage.

This sounds suspiciously like the party of less government—who wants to keeps government’s filthy hands out of your pockets—coming up with another unnecessary government program. Wouldn’t it be better, and cheaper, to make it advantageous for companies to keep jobs with a “decent wage” here in the first place, and penalize those who ship those jobs overseas? Not to seem like a Neanderthal on the topic of globalization, but isn’t it in our national interest to keep at least some good, working class jobs here?

This is not just a socio-economic issue; national security is also at stake. The recent spike in oil prices produced a swell of comments about the possible consequences to globalization if transportation prices made it unfeasible to continue to transport raw materials and finished goods overseas. A war could do the same, depending on its location and scope. It is in this country’s national security interest to keep many of these jobs handy, lest we have crucial goods and services made unavailable at a time when they may be needed most.

The ultimate irony—as pointed out by Joe Klein in Time magazine online—is that John McCain has become the “standard-bearer of a failed ideology — ironically, a belief in 'me first' before country.” McCain leverages his history of personal service and sacrifice in the name of a party whose idea of “service” is to support the troops in Iraq by shopping, and thinks of “sacrifice” as not playing golf. It demeans him, and it’s sad, to hear promises of tax cuts draw greater cheers than mentions of country.

Make no mistake: Republicans are definitely the party of “me first.” Democrats are not immune to the charge, but “Republican” has become virtually synonymous with “conservative,” and Twenty-first Century conservatives are interested in conserving little aside from what’s theirs already. John McCain deserves better, as do the rest of us.

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