Watchdog Blog

Gilbert Cranberg: Anarchists (GOP) in Our Midst, and the Press’s Role

Posted at 8:57 pm, May 8th, 2011
Gilbert Cranberg Mug

At the height of the recent budget impasse, Republican cries of “Shut it down! Shut it down!” filled the air. Call them the voices of the anarchist wing of the GOP. Anarchism: the doctrine urging the abolition of government.

If that sounds extreme, it is, but none other than than the patron saint of the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, made a similar anarchist sentiment his motto and thus made it respectable to bad-mouth government. In his first inaugural address, no less, Reagan declared, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.“ Countless Republican politicians have made that their mantra and virtually their party’s battle cry.

Reagan didn’t just revile government; he took the logical next step of decrying taxes as bordering on subversive. After all, a government without revenue can do no harm. So he took the simplistic but persuasive step of defining government revenue as “your money.” Politicians at all levels of government have echoed the phrase “Don’t let them take your money,” and thus helped make raising taxes politically difficult, sometimes suicidal.

Now and then a public official will point out that a key purpose of the Constitution is to “support the general welfare.” The few politicians heard to quote this part of the country’s basic document usually are described as “courageous.” It’s a sad state of affairs, but one we’re in danger of approaching whenever an office-seeker puts his political life on the line for citing the Constitution.

The passage should be quoted often, lest it become a dead letter.

No, our government is not our enemy. Nor are taxes an enemy of democracy. In Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous phrase, “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.”

Lawmakers seem to be in a fever to take a cleaver to public education and other government institutions, no matter how important. Just as reputation is built incrementally, but can be wrecked in a careless moment, carefully nurtured government programs can be crippled by politicians caught up in whatever seems to be popular.

The press does not run for office. It is uniquely positioned to resist the transient and to stand firm in support of worthwhile government programs.

At a time when both government and welfare have become dirty words, the press needs to remind the country how fundamentally American they are.

7 Responses to “Anarchists (GOP) in Our Midst, and the Press’s Role”

  1. free Batjko says:

    Read the constitution and cite the exact sentence, please. It’s not there.

    Not that a piece of paper can justifiably be an arbiter on what is right and wrong.
    How can aggression and force used on minorities be morally defensible, or “American”, for that matter?
    If 200 million want to pay for welfare, that’s fine. But how can it be “good” to force the other 100 million at gun point to do the same?

    Why is personal responsibility such an unpopular concept that an entire citizenship has outsourced it to the government, effectively eliminating it?

    There is nothing bad, or un-American about asking to be left alone, to keep the fruit of one’s labor, and have a free choice on what they are spent.

  2. Kurt says:

    In calling Republicans anarchists, you demonstrate ignorance. Please have a look at An Anarchist FAQ ( Hopefully, it will help you not spout any more nonsense on the topic.

  3. free batjko says:

    I am well aware what anarchism entails, I am an anarchist myself.
    And I have no problem with your assertion that someone calling for the shutdown of government might be called an anarchist.

    However, this were only true if republicans were calling for the permanent abolition of the entire governmental system, including all programs, institutions and representatives thereof.
    Have you looked at the elitist republican crowd of the last few decades, if not more? Have they not consistently called for, and enacted if they could, unprecedented increases in government power? Have they not decreased every American’s freedom (patriot act is the prime example)? Have they not grown the size of the military industrial complex to the monster it is now? Have they not instituted a whole new department, the DHS, for the sole purpose of intruding on people’s private lives and treating any and every citizen as a potential suspect first, and then as a citizen?

    Republicans are nowhere near anarchism, they call for a shutdown of government for rhetorical purposes, but god forbid that’d mean they had to go home and look for a decent job themselves.

    By calling Republicans Anarchists, it is you who has displayed a great deal of ignorance, in fact to both Republicans and Anarchists.

    If you read again, you will also notice that I do not “spout” at all. I bring forward arguments. If you don’t like them, I invite you to engage in a debate, like it is expected of rational people with opinions, not useless ad hominem attacks.

    Thank you,

  4. Kurt says:

    @free batjko: No worries, I should have specifically addressed my comment to the author.

  5. free Batjko says:

    No, you were quite clear. I just need to pay attention when I read.
    Anyway, a response from the author would be prudent at this point, I’d say.

  6. Kurt says:

    I just sent him an e-mail letting him know. (

  7. Planck B says:

    Reagan was merely the agent. Kim Philips-Fein “Invisible Hands” shows who was behind grooming him and putting him in office. We shouldn’t get confused. The Pols are merely tools. The real villains are behind the scenes and we had better get them into our sights. They’ve done the damage they needed to do where it matters most to them: Department of Interior, EPA, Labor,SEC, CFTC. They like FDA to keep new entrants out. They love Pentagon for the dividends, and interest payments it pays every year. Everything else they can shut down. They don’t need any of the rest of it. OSHA, Clean Air, Clean Water, MMS will hold up their mining the rest of the stuff here they couldn’t get to since 1933…they want it back to 1880s-1920s and they got it! Education, they needed to sabotage that with the property tax thing and then cutting Federal aid to push headcounts up. They need stupid people here and looks like they’ve got that too!

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