Recent events have prompted some discussion of wedge politics and the lack of meaningful political discourse in this country. A related issue that deserves some attention is the increasing reliance on simplifying slogans as a substitute for debate. While not new, in the age of social media, the slogan rules.
For example, every time a progressive politician wants to do something to improve our prospects, we are likely to hear the accusation that here is yet another instance of “tax and spend”. Funny that we do not hear that phrase when we talk about going to war or building prisons, always expensive and also paid for through taxes.
In fact, the slogan is almost always reserved for social spending. But, in one way or another, every government uses tax dollars for social goals. Indeed, social spending paid through taxes is non-discretionary. The question is how much will we spend at the back end for prisons and care facilities versus the front end for prevention and opportunity. I have never met a politician who thinks that raising taxes is good politics or that high taxes are a good idea – but whether it’s public health and education or prisons, we must tax and spend. Just about everybody agrees that we should spend wisely and tax only what is necessary but they disagree about what is wise and what is necessary or important. That’s what we should be debating.
We should look at all the nonsense slogans, “nanny state”,” social engineering”, “soft on crime” and strip them from our discourse or at least stop allowing them to substitute for real debate.