Politics, etc.: from the GOP to the Healthy Kids Act

The concept of a political pendulum has existed in most democratic and republic governments throughout history. The people install the most appealing party or person into power, become discontented after a while, and shift power to the other end of the political spectrum. It’s yin and yang, ebb and flow–balance. With regards to the federal government, the most recent shift of power came in 2006 and 2008, when the previously-celebrated Republican administration in the White House and Congress alike became less popular after their offensives in the Middle East, their infringements on citizens’ privacy, and the inability of certain leaders to pronounce long and rather complicated words. Americans elected Democrats into a a majority in the House, a supermajority in the Senate, and control of the White House, and the party leaders have built in more government regulation into health care, the Federal Reserve, and now Wall Street, to the (at least in part feigned) chagrin of Republicans. As history has always told us, the pendulum will inevitably swing back and Americans will vote in more conservative politicians. But will that be the GOP? America’s two-party system is in place to promote balance in governing. A more liberal (believing government should help the people) party and a more conservative (believing the government should allow the people to help themselves) party contend for power, and the fact that only two parties have been viable for a couple of centuries makes for a very stable, predictable government. But the system relies on compromise and balance, which is why the current state of affairs in Washington is dangerous to one or both parties and the system as a whole. The modern Democratic Party operates, on average, as a centrist-left party. There are exceptions, but on the whole, the party is fairly moderate and seeks to use governmental regulation to improve capitalism and health care. However, the GOP as it stands today has become radically conservative and nationalistic, influenced heavily by the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh . When moderately conservative politicians such as Bob Bennett (R-Utah) lose primary elections to radical Tea Party members, it’s clear who’s in control and the political direction in which the Republican Party is moving. And that direction seems to be the radical, extreme conservative end of the political spectrum: a move that will alienate centrist Republicans, who have always been the majority, unless they move with the party, which will lead to even more of a dangerous polarization of American politics than what exists today. As the Tea Party, this polarized end of the GOP, affirms its nearly erotic desire for capitalism in the face of "the socialist Obama administration," one must recognize the blunt truth of American capitalism: the inevitable prevalence of corporations. The modern American lexicon has established the word "corporation" as carrying a connotation of corruption, with most corporations run by evil, cigar-smoking back-room kingmakers who care more about their fluffy white lap-cat than the state of American society. But for every Enron that is revealed to be run by people close to that stereotype, there are many more corporations that are clean, accountable, and committed to the betterment of their nation and world. Sarah Palin’s "mom-and-pop store" and Barack Obama’s "Main Street" are essentially one and the same: an idealistic class of independent, historic, family-run businesses that reinvest most of their profits into other local, independent, family-run businesses. Of course, campaigning politicians always put the focus on this class and either neglect or outright oppose the corporate sector. But, according to the U.S. Small Business Association, a majority of Americans work for private businesses with 100 or more employees, and most of those work for companies with 500 or more. To oppose large businesses and corporations is to reject the majority of citizens. And, in fact, it can and should be argued that large corporations are more important than "mom-and-pop stores," and not just because of their high numbers of employment. Corporations often give back to the community in ways that small businesses cannot. Education and research grants. Philanthropy to institutions such as colleges and hospitals. Projects such as Pepsi Refresh. Corporate money, usually seen as corrupt and ill-earned, is really the key to American success, and it should be the key to reviving our fallen economy. It may not be the most attractive way for politicians to pander to their constituents, but supporting big business, as long as corruption is avoided, benefits everyone. Speaking of pandering to their constituents, we in Iowa schools will be facing some changes next year in the nutrition area. The Healthy Kids Act, passed by Iowa Congress last year in order to appease those parents concerned about their children’s health, will ban most bake sales, regulate how many calories and milligrams of sodium, among other things, are in school lunches, and remove all carbonated beverages from schools, along with a whole slew of other regulations. The recent federal health care law is not socialism. It, in fact, encourages capitalism, by giving a tax credit to those with private insurance (the "mandate" that Republicans have made their valiant duty to oppose). The Iowa Healthy Kids Act is socialism, however, in that it assumes governmental responsibility for the health and welfare of its subordinates, and imposes restrictions on private business. For Americans–and Iowans–to get all up in arms about the government banning health-care providers from denying kids and those with pre-existing conditions, but allow the state legislature to control what our children eat –sometimes even I don’t understand what the hell goes on in people’s minds.