Quote For the Day

Read this on the train on my ride/walk home today. I love me some Harry Reid:

"Ever since the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan in 1980, it has been popular and easy for candidates to run against Washington and the very institutions they are seeking to lead. For these titans of public service, these profiles in courage, the more viciously you can tear our government down, the better. An entire generation of politicians had learned that cynical lesson so well that in 2000 we elected a President for whom this government-is-the-enemy notion was an article of faith. Well, during his presidency this simple-minded political credo has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their logic has been circular: A) Government can't do anything right, so, B) elect us, and we'll prove it to you.

"This political strategy has been a disastrous success.

"The problem with this approach, of course, is that it attempts to obscure the fact that the American government is the greatest force for good in the history of mankind. No amount of cheap political demagoguery will change that fact. But when you so degrade the institutions of our government, you play a very dangerous game, because when you have the power of the presidency, you can make it thus. When you say, over and over, that government is the problem, it becomes the problem. So much so that when you are in charge of it, you don't know how to run it. And you have such contempt for its functions that you appoint partisan hacks to run lifesaving agencies, which is what President Bush did when he appointed Michael Brown to run FEMA, and Brown was then revealed as incompetent in the critical days after Hurricane Katrina wiped out much of the central Gulf Coast in late August 2005.

"I am as much a believer in the genius of the American free-enterprise system as anyone, but it was not the market that built the Interstate Highway System, sent a man to the moon, or conceived of Social Security, the greatest social program since the fishes and the loaves. It was not the market that saved the planet in two world wars or dammed mighty rivers to electrify Appalachia and the West. Those things, and so many others, were brought to you by the genius of the American government. And what is the American government but an expression of the will of the the American people? The Republicans sometimes talk about our government as if it's some kind of alien landing craft, come to impose an alien order. This, of course, is paranoid nonsense. It is this kind of thinking that ought to be considered alien. Because when we've got elected officials in Washington so blinded by ideology that they cannot abide the thought of government helping someone - like, for instance, insuring an uninsured child - then something is terribly wrong. And when at the same time you've got right-wing activists given carte blanche in the halls of power, such as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, whose favorite saying is that he wants to shrink the government to a sufficient size so that it might be drowned in a bathtub, then you've got a recipe for disaster. A recipe for a diminished America. You begin to do serious harm to the very idea of American greatness."

From The Good Fight: From Searchlight to Washington
By Harry Reid with Mark Warren
Pp. 66-68

1 comment:

Jesse said...

Love the post. I think that Harry Reid is one of our most under-appreciated politicians today. I guess one couldn't call him under-rated as Senate Majority Leader, but seriously this guy should be considered one of our wise sages of the ages.