Last year around this time, the country felt more or less stuck in the same rut that it is today. Democrats are trying to take on multiple agendas at once (getting gay marriage into more states, making sure Obama’s not a one-term president, struggling to not have unions wiped out, not letting the country crumble from Republican’s refusal to raise taxes and insistence on cutting more of them, etc.) but not accomplishing much on any of them, while Republicans are locked into a conversation about deficit/taxes/debt that only they find interesting.
As the deadline to pay taxes grew nearer, the issue of taxes began to really tell us something about not just our economic theories, but our values as well, and that’s become even more apparent this year. As hard as Republicans try to bore everyone to death with arcane statistics about government spending and the size of government, there’s no denying that beneath those statistics are flesh and blood people that they keep forgetting about.
Until recently, the most fundamental difference between the two parties was where the tax money went. History suggested that Republicans seemed to prefer spending tax dollars abroad (wars, defense contractors, reshaping nations, and securing stability amongst our trading partners) while Democrats typically preferred spending tax dollars domestically (pick anything from education to crumbling roads). Republicans believed in “Old Testament Government” that existed not to nurture, but punish (wars, defense, security). Democrats believed in “New Testament Government” that existed to be sympathetic, and take care of the sick, poor, ignorant, suffering hordes.
But the last couple years the debate has shifted not from how to spend tax dollars to whether or not anyone should even be paying taxes. The Tea Party never met a government program, department, or job they didn’t feel could be cut, combined, or eliminated wholesale. Their values don’t lie with a different “Government God,” they lie with no Gov. God (they wouldn’t like to be compared to atheists but they are when it comes to government).
That’s a completely different debate than what came before it, and one that really showcases the shifting Republican values from a “strong, almighty international government” to no government. More than ever, Democrats are looking to make the case for the people—-firefighters, cops, teachers, nurses in government hospitals, grandparents using social security, the destitute, the hungry, and the sick using Medicare/Medicaid—-behind your tax dollars. And Republicans are hoping you won’t mind sacrificing your way of life to please the deity of fiscal conservatism.