Mudslinging by leading Democrats, usually taking form these days as
trying to brand Republicans as racists, confirms what I have been
writing about for a number of years: the Democratic Party is running on
an empty tank. Bankrupt of ideas, the only thing they have to offer is
slamming the opposition and playing the race card.

The latest case in point is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Martin Luther
King Day pandering to a black audience in Harlem, telling them that
Republicans run the House of Representatives “like a plantation and you
know what I am talking about.”

According to Mrs. Clinton,
Republicans have been managing the House “in a way that nobody with a
contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an
argument, to be heard.”

Have Republicans really cornered the
political market in Washington, as Mrs. Clinton claims here, and beaten
their poor opposition into impotence?

If this is indeed the
case, how is it that the first major initiative advanced by a confident
and freshly re-elected President Bush, reform of Social Security, has
disappeared into a mist of memories? The answer, of course, is that the
initiative hit a Democratic wall of opposition.

How about the
first major domestic initiative advanced in the first Bush term, No
Child Left Behind? The act underwent major surgery in Congress as
result of compromise with Democrats. A key, perhaps the most important,
aspect of education reform that the act contained, school choice, was

How about the President’s faith-based initiative
program? As result of not being able to pass the thing in Congress, the
president proceeded administratively and just started setting up
offices in the various government departments.

What about the marriage amendment? Where did that disappear to?

Mrs. Clinton’s portrait of the Republican stranglehold on the Congress
is obviously a smokescreen for the fact that the Democrats do indeed
wield a lot of power. The issue isn’t whether they have it, but rather
how they choose to use it.

I challenge anyone reading these
words to identify a single idea or initiative addressing any serious
problems like health care, education, retirement or anything else, that
any Democrat has put forward.

There’s a reason you’re drawing a
blank. There are none. Every new and creative initiative, the kind of
innovations that would overwhelming help blacks and the poor _ private
retirement accounts, health savings accounts, school choice _ have been
Republican initiatives. Democrats have used power for obstruction and
to preserve big government status quo.

This gets around to the question of Hillary’s “plantation” accusation.

I wrote a book called “Uncle Sam’s Plantation.” I used the plantation
analogy because the bigger government is, the less control individuals
have over their own lives and the more dependent they are on the
decisions that others, i.e., politicians, make for them. For poor
folks, reliance on government builds a culture of dependency that often
never ends. It is generally appreciated today the damage that the
welfare state caused in poor, mostly black, communities.

got kids from poor families all over the country today trapped in
pathetic, failing inner city public schools. Yet in a nation which
prides itself on being free, we refuse to allow competition and allow
parents to choose where to send their kid to school. This defines a big
government plantation.

Mrs. Clinton analogizing the House of
Representatives to a plantation is absurd. No one is forced to be
there. Members are elected every two years. What Mrs. Clinton doesn’t
like is that Americans keep re-electing Republicans and putting them in
control. And this means more initiatives to try and reduce the big
government plantation that Hillary in fact loves. Recall that her
answer to health care was to essentially nationalize it.

than government-run “Hillary care,” low income folks need health
savings accounts that would give them the same tax breaks that big
corporations have.

Could Republicans be doing a better job?
Sure. But the Democratic Party would help if it became a real
opposition party with ideas and alternatives.

If Democrats
really wanted to push for the interests of those struggling to make it,
they’d be pushing to give these folks more, not less, control over
their lives.

But, to use the plantation analogy properly,
Hillary and the Democrats don’t want to free the slaves. They love
Uncle Sam’s Plantation. They just want to run it.

Parker is author of “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government
Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do about It” and president of
CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education,