A Political Question

In keeping with the recent Election 2008 theme on TLH, I ask you the following — which party do you think completes this sentence:

[x] believe that individuals should contribute time and resources to serving the poor, vulnerable, and less fortunate members of our society.

Do you think x refers to:

  1. Democrats; and/or
  2. Republicans.

According to a Sikh participant in a debate regarding who Indian-Americans should support:

Republicans believe that individuals should contribute time and resources to serving the poor, vulnerable, and less fortunate members of our society. [Link]

What? Since when? I must admit that in my (dark) past, I voted for a Republican candidate for President. I did so at a time when the Nation was relatively stable (e.g., no wars or economic crises) and I subscribed to the general principle that limited government and a greater emphasis on individual responsibility are preferable to a more expansive government and achieving social equality under the guise of “fairness.”

But, as a Sikh, I did not vote for the Republican candidate because I thought Republicans encouraged individuals, as a matter of policy, to help those who are less fortunate. In thinking about the Sikh’s statement, the only thing that came to mind in terms of a Republican sense of seva was their interest in enabling faith-based organizations to assist the community. But at most the focus of this interest is ensuring that faith-based programs are not disadvantaged because they are faith-based, not in ensuring that entities or individuals give back. This indirect seva, at best, is not enough in my book to support the proposition that the GOP is a party that urges individuals to help the less fortunate.

Am I missing some Republican policy, or is the Sikh’s statement simply unsupportable?


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14 Responses to “A Political Question”

  1. VKaur says:

    She really must have stretched the definition of "less fortunate" to come up with a statement like that. Wow.

  2. VKaur says:

    She really must have stretched the definition of “less fortunate” to come up with a statement like that. Wow.

  3. Marine Kaur says:

    Republicans will defend the right of the unborn child relentlessly, up until the point where the child is born, and then … he/she is on their own.

  4. Marine Kaur says:

    Republicans will defend the right of the unborn child relentlessly, up until the point where the child is born, and then … he/she is on their own.

  5. Ennis says:

    It's quite well supportable. The divide between democrats and republicans used to be about how much the government should do for the less fortunate, with the GOP arguing that it was better for individuals to give to charity than for them to be taxed and have that money wasted. Bush (41, HW not W) talked about "A thousand points of light." Even this President talked about faith based initiatives (which is narrower than what republicans traditionally espoused).

    If you're under 25, and this administration is all you know of the GOP, then that statement sounds strange. But if you look back a bit, to Reagan and Bush I, it's not that strange at all. The fact that there is a difference just shows how far the GOP has wandered from its own principles. This was accentuated by Palin's tirade against community organizers, another break.

  6. Ennis says:

    It’s quite well supportable. The divide between democrats and republicans used to be about how much the government should do for the less fortunate, with the GOP arguing that it was better for individuals to give to charity than for them to be taxed and have that money wasted. Bush (41, HW not W) talked about “A thousand points of light.” Even this President talked about faith based initiatives (which is narrower than what republicans traditionally espoused).

    If you’re under 25, and this administration is all you know of the GOP, then that statement sounds strange. But if you look back a bit, to Reagan and Bush I, it’s not that strange at all. The fact that there is a difference just shows how far the GOP has wandered from its own principles. This was accentuated by Palin’s tirade against community organizers, another break.

  7. Publius says:

    Ennis, thanks for your response. Unfortunately I am over 25 so I do see the statement in some historical context. I don't disagree that the "GOP argu[ed] that it was better for individuals to give to charity than for them to be taxed and have that money wasted." That is an indication of whether it is *preferable* for the government to invest in the less fortunate or the individual to do so (here, the question is whether the government or individual should perform the function of giving back). It does not suggest that the GOP wanted individuals to affirmatively help the less fortunate (here, the question is whether or not individuals should serve the less fortunate).

    With respect to faith-based initiatives, again I think the focus there is ensuring that those programs are on equal footing with non-faith-based programs — the focus is not on the needy individuals themselves.

    With respect to taxes, Republicans may favor providing incentives to organizations and individuals to give to charitable causes, but again the focus there would be enabling organizations and individuals to report less taxable income rather than helping the less fortunate.

    In that respect, I think it's reasonable to say that Republicans note that individuals *may* contribute to non-profit entities that help the less fortunate and will receive a tax-break in doing so — not that they *should* help the poor or less fortunate, as the statement claims.

    Again, such indirect (at best) seva is insufficient in my book to support the quoted statement.

  8. Publius says:

    Ennis, thanks for your response. Unfortunately I am over 25 so I do see the statement in some historical context. I don’t disagree that the “GOP argu[ed] that it was better for individuals to give to charity than for them to be taxed and have that money wasted.” That is an indication of whether it is *preferable* for the government to invest in the less fortunate or the individual to do so (here, the question is whether the government or individual should perform the function of giving back). It does not suggest that the GOP wanted individuals to affirmatively help the less fortunate (here, the question is whether or not individuals should serve the less fortunate).

    With respect to faith-based initiatives, again I think the focus there is ensuring that those programs are on equal footing with non-faith-based programs — the focus is not on the needy individuals themselves.

    With respect to taxes, Republicans may favor providing incentives to organizations and individuals to give to charitable causes, but again the focus there would be enabling organizations and individuals to report less taxable income rather than helping the less fortunate.

    In that respect, I think it’s reasonable to say that Republicans note that individuals *may* contribute to non-profit entities that help the less fortunate and will receive a tax-break in doing so — not that they *should* help the poor or less fortunate, as the statement claims.

    Again, such indirect (at best) seva is insufficient in my book to support the quoted statement.

  9. sikhpath says:

    There is a problem of distraction. Both parties consist of the country's richest and most well connected candidates. Votes are not always fairly counted as seen in the Bush Gore election. The federal reserve is a private organization with no affiliation with government oversight, regulation, or intervention. Instead the federal reserve is run by the world's most influential and affluent bankers. Hence the bailout in congress. Special interest runs Washington, and the rest is a mere puppet show. McCain doesnt know a damn thing about the election and his economic adviser is a Fannie Mae lobbyist, and Obama gets the most money from lobbyist banks like Fannie Mae. It is all a distraction while the rich get richer and the poor poorer. I am talking about less than one percent of the US population rich – billionaires.

  10. sikhpath says:

    There is a problem of distraction. Both parties consist of the country’s richest and most well connected candidates. Votes are not always fairly counted as seen in the Bush Gore election. The federal reserve is a private organization with no affiliation with government oversight, regulation, or intervention. Instead the federal reserve is run by the world’s most influential and affluent bankers. Hence the bailout in congress. Special interest runs Washington, and the rest is a mere puppet show. McCain doesnt know a damn thing about the election and his economic adviser is a Fannie Mae lobbyist, and Obama gets the most money from lobbyist banks like Fannie Mae. It is all a distraction while the rich get richer and the poor poorer. I am talking about less than one percent of the US population rich – billionaires.

  11. Camille says:

    I think some of the difficulty is that there's a disconnect between the historic values behind both parties and where their supporters are today. A value for "service" is not out of line with many Republican supporters, particularly the more religious, who believe service to the less fortunate is part of their religious teachings, framework, and lifestyle. It's also not out of line for many Democratic supporters, who often have either a religious or humanistic value for service and for protecting "the underdog." I think what's remarkable is the similarity between groups in identifying problems. The divergence seems to be over identifying causes and around attitudes to the role of government in supporting or addressing social problems.

    This has also shifted as the rhetoric of "no government" moves farther from reality. Reagan believed you could starve government if you put enough money into defense, and he was right. But for the fiscally prudent, it's hard to justify racking up huge deficits (and huge government infrastructure/spending) while quality of life diminishes at home and social programs are cut, particularly in times of economic hardship. I think we've seen something similar with George W. — on one hand, he campaigned against "big government," but one of the most massive government employment expansions has happened under his presidency. And, for the most part, people were willing to let this slide so long as it didn't impact their sense of well-being.

  12. Camille says:

    I think some of the difficulty is that there’s a disconnect between the historic values behind both parties and where their supporters are today. A value for “service” is not out of line with many Republican supporters, particularly the more religious, who believe service to the less fortunate is part of their religious teachings, framework, and lifestyle. It’s also not out of line for many Democratic supporters, who often have either a religious or humanistic value for service and for protecting “the underdog.” I think what’s remarkable is the similarity between groups in identifying problems. The divergence seems to be over identifying causes and around attitudes to the role of government in supporting or addressing social problems.

    This has also shifted as the rhetoric of “no government” moves farther from reality. Reagan believed you could starve government if you put enough money into defense, and he was right. But for the fiscally prudent, it’s hard to justify racking up huge deficits (and huge government infrastructure/spending) while quality of life diminishes at home and social programs are cut, particularly in times of economic hardship. I think we’ve seen something similar with George W. — on one hand, he campaigned against “big government,” but one of the most massive government employment expansions has happened under his presidency. And, for the most part, people were willing to let this slide so long as it didn’t impact their sense of well-being.

  13. Sikhpath has some insight.

    As it stands niether party serves "the poor, vulnerable, and less fortunate members of our society."

    They both serve a wealthy elite, and both have almost the same policies when it comes to war,energy, healthcare. McCain is dumb is enough to joke about bombing Iran, and Obama's dumb enough to consider it a possibility. They both consider Iran a threat and are ammenable to (continued and new) wars in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. McCain is dumb enough to say 100 years and Obama is dumb enough to say 3 years. We don't even need 3 years to finish obliterating the Iraqi people and stealing their resources. We could probably do it in 6 months, but Obama wants 3 years just to be safe.

    They're both war-mongering beasts with no regard for the suffering of humanity. They both support and espouse policies that rape the little people in favor the military-industrial complex that pays their way.

    Nader is a true American Hero and deserves the votes of Sikhs who are unafraid and wish to stand true to their ideals, rather than compromise for the smaller war-mongering beast.

  14. Sikhpath has some insight.
    As it stands niether party serves “the poor, vulnerable, and less fortunate members of our society.”
    They both serve a wealthy elite, and both have almost the same policies when it comes to war,energy, healthcare. McCain is dumb is enough to joke about bombing Iran, and Obama’s dumb enough to consider it a possibility. They both consider Iran a threat and are ammenable to (continued and new) wars in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. McCain is dumb enough to say 100 years and Obama is dumb enough to say 3 years. We don’t even need 3 years to finish obliterating the Iraqi people and stealing their resources. We could probably do it in 6 months, but Obama wants 3 years just to be safe.
    They’re both war-mongering beasts with no regard for the suffering of humanity. They both support and espouse policies that rape the little people in favor the military-industrial complex that pays their way.
    Nader is a true American Hero and deserves the votes of Sikhs who are unafraid and wish to stand true to their ideals, rather than compromise for the smaller war-mongering beast.