Uncle Sam’s plantation

    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
    amputated.

    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.

    We’ve
    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.

    Rather
    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.

    (Star
    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, www.urbancure.org.)