Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nanny State vs. Bully State

Father's Day brought thoughts to my mind about the image of government as parent.

For years (decades?) Republicans (who are called "conservatives") have been decrying the policies of the Democrats (who are called "liberals"), deriding them as favoring a "nanny state," wiping the noses (and other places which are wiped) of people too lazy to shift for themselves.

On the other hand, they project a "father state": strong on defense, and standing up for personal responsibility.

Well, both descriptions are faulty, and both are inadequate. True, there are faults with both, but there is some value to both ideas.

First, the Democratic programs produced more of a Heather Badcock state. Heather Badcock was the murder victim in Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd. When Miss Marple had a fall on the street, Heather Badcock came out and comforted her, took her into her house, and made her tea and cheerfully did other things for Miss Marple, even though those things were not altogether what Miss Marple wanted or needed. How many of you have been married to people like that?

Similarly, some of the social reforms of the past century had the best of motives, but unintended consequences. "Urban renewal" turned out to be little more than poor people removal; housing projects were merely warehouses for unwanted people, and Aid for Families with Dependent Children actually encouraged women to stay home and have children out of wedlock. Good intentions, but not carried out well, partly because of Republican opposition. A Heather Badcock state.

On the other hand, the Republican administration of the past six and a half years has been more of a "bully state" than a "daddy state."

A bully father sits around drinking beer while his wife struggles and the children are neglected. The Bush Administration with a compliant Congress have neglected the needs of America's poorest children, and poverty and hunger rates have risen to a point higher than they were in 1967 when the Johnson Administration tried to do something about the problem.

A bully father spends money on his buddies and his pleasures while his wife and children do without. Bush lied us into an unprovoked war in Iraq, and Cheney's Halliburton buddies and Bush's Saudi masters have made obscene profits off the slaughter of the bravest young Americans.

A bully father refuses to listen to his children cry. Instead he tells them to "suck it up" or "walk it off," or even calls them "sissies." The American people have been told to shut up and let Bush "protect" us from the big, bad terrorists, even while he is making life easier for those same terrorists. Anyone who disagrees is being "disloyal" or "not supporting the troops," or even "supporting the terrorists."

A bully father convinces his victims in his family that they can't make it without him. The Bushites have told us repeatedly that the Democrats are "soft on defense" and that only Bush and Co. can protect us.

I could go on, and I probably will. I'm thinking about turning these thoughts into a book. But meanwhile, what we need is a Daddy state.

A good Daddy is equally able to change a diaper or a tire. A good Daddy can help his children with their homework, and make sure they have a safe home. A good Daddy can teach his children how to use a gun safely, and help wipe away their tears. A good Daddy loves his wife and listens to his children. A good Daddy helps his children achieve all they can amount to.

We need a Daddy state. One that keeps us both safe and prosperous.

Can any declared candidate come close to that?


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