June 21, 2004 | Commentary on Taxes
Be Nice to Liberals Day
Politics is all too often a punch-below-the-belt business, and
the nastiness seems to worsen during election years. Republicans
and Democrats accuse each other of heinous crimes and ulterior
motives -- and that's when the cameras are rolling. They really get
nasty when speaking "off the record."
Breaking this cycle of vicious partisanship and ideological
conflict requires a magnanimous and unilateral gesture on someone's
part. In the spirit of civil discourse, I would like to take that
first step. As such, even though I work for the conservative
Heritage Foundation, allow me to propose that Congress approve a
new national holiday to demonstrate emotional support for my
friends on the left.
We could call this new holiday "Jimmy Carter Day." Or "Make America
Like France Day." But for now, let's keep things simple and call it
"Be Nice to Liberals Day."
I propose this new holiday for two reasons. First, extending an
olive branch can be the first step toward reconciliation and
understanding. At the very least, it may lead to a more civil
discussion in Washington. The second reason is that liberals need
our sympathy in these trying times. Consider the trauma they've had
to deal with in recent years:
- Tax cuts are helping the economy grow. Liberals unanimously
opposed President Bush's tax cuts and claimed they wouldn't work.
But now that the economy is enjoying its best performance in 20
years (it grew even faster when Reagan cut tax rates) and has
generated one million new jobs, our left-leaning friends must feel
awful foolish. A holiday might help ease their embarrassment.
- Welfare reform worked. Liberals adamantly rejected welfare
reform. They said it was a mean-spirited attack on the poor and
would cause more poverty. Yet welfare reform has been a big
success, helping millions of people move from government dependence
to gainful employment. As a result, nearly 3 million fewer children
live in poverty. This is great news, but imagine how ridiculous our
opponents must feel. A holiday would boost their self-esteem.
- Scrapping the ABM Treaty didn't cause an arms race. Liberals
claimed that "Star Wars" was a bad idea and that a new arms race
would be triggered if President Bush pulled out of the ABM treaty
between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. But we withdrew from the
treaty to help protect America from terrorism and rogue nations,
and the sky didn't fall. This must be frustrating for the left,
especially since they were equally wrong about President Reagan's
defense buildup and strong foreign policy. They said Reagan's
policies would lead to an arms race, but instead they led to the
fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc.
A holiday would be a reasonable consolation prize for our friends
on the left.
- Socialist economies like France and Sweden are collapsing.
Liberals frequently tout nations such as France and Sweden as role
models, governments with a "social conscience." Yet these
over-taxed countries are self-destructing. Unemployment in France
is almost at double-digit levels and Sweden hasn't created a
private-sector job in more than 30 years. Per capita income in
these countries has declined relative to per capita income in the
U.S. This must give those on the left nightmares. A "Be Nice To
Liberals Day" might help them sleep better.
- Free-market policies are succeeding all around the world.
Liberals used to argue that free-market policies such as tax reform
and personal retirement accounts were crazy, untested concepts. But
now Hong Kong, Russia, and Slovakia, among others, have
growth-generating flat-tax systems. Other nations such as Ireland
have doubled their economies with low tax rates. Meanwhile,
Australia, Chile, England, and Hong Kong are but a few of the
polities that have successfully introduced some form of personal
retirement accounts. Imagine how awful this must be for liberals. A
national holiday would be a kind gesture to compensate for all this
- Educational choice is slowly spreading across America. Liberals
condemn school choice as a sinister plot to de-fund government
schools. Allied with the teacher unions, they vigorously resist
programs to give poor parents the ability to choose better schools
for their children. Yet school choice is gradually gaining a
foothold in places such as Milwaukee, Cleveland, the District of
Columbia, Florida, and Colorado. Worse, it's working. Student test
scores are rising, and competition is forcing the government
schools to improve. Surely a new holiday is the least we can do to
ease their angst.
To some extent, this new holiday is akin to an existential group
hug. And since feelings are the most important thing to liberals,
the national holiday could be the beginning of a national healing.
With any luck, this could put them on the path to recovery.
Daniel J. Mitchell is the McKenna fellow in political economy
at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on American Spectator Online