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Bernhard: Onward through the Fog!

By his own admission, Louisiana Democrat Party Chairman Jim Bernhard involved himself little in politics until recently. If we are to take his recent remarks concerning his plans for leading the party, it shows.

Some questions that leap to mind about his comments:
Does he know what a political party does?
Does he know what the Democrat Party is?
Does he know the issue preferences of the Democrat Party relative to the Republicans?
Did he pay attention to the 2004 elections?
Does he plan on keeping this job long?

Let’s review some of the more interesting statements he’s quoted as making. First, he says he switched from independent to Democrat last year because he felt that the party’s policy desired to "give a helping hand, rather than a handout" to people and that he wanted to support policy that would close the gap "between the haves and have-nots."

Doesn’t he know that the Democrats have been the party all about giving handouts? That fought tooth-and-nail to prevent reform that has dropped Louisiana’s welfare rolls with no ill effects to a fraction of where they were a decade ago? Who have long blamed everything and everybody – the economic system, racism, sexism, conservatives, Republicans, oil companies, drug companies, corporations in general – except the talent level of most of the have-nots themselves for this gap?

Bernhard may know the engineering business, but he clearly doesn’t know the simple economic fact that, in a free enterprise system, resources accrue to those in proportion to their contributions to society. The reason why a ditch-digger’s salary is perhaps a hundredth of Bernhard’s when he was CEO of the Shaw Group is because Bernhard’s efforts produce far more wealth, prosperity, and benefits to society than the digging of a ditch. What justifies government’s expropriation of resources from individuals who can use it to benefit society to a far greater degree than would the recipient of this transfer, just because the gap is “obscenely” large?

Almost comically, Bernhard doesn’t even seem to realize the inherent contradiction in his statements. If following the (Republican) philosophy of helping hand, not handout, that only serves to increase the gap, because the only way to disrupt the natural increase in the gap (which will continue to rise as society as a whole prospers even more) is to artificially transfer resources that in essence makes them a handout to the “have-nots.” You can’t have it both ways.

But there’s more. Bernhard labors under the illusion that the main thing holding back Democrat candidates in Louisiana, and thus the centerpiece of his Louisiana Agenda is to erase the perception that Democrats have no morals! One quick look at some survey data would tell him that the reason the Democrats lost was they were wrong on too many issues for the majority of the public, and “morality” wasn’t high on the list.

Of course, there’s a way to kill two birds with one stone. Bernhard, in order to close the gap, should tithe to the “have-nots” – think about how many people could benefit from 10 percent of a small share of his personal wealth to cover startup costs to escape from the economic clutches of the evil capitalists. And note that he, the head of the state Democrat Party, by this act of generosity, will make Democrats as a whole look moral!

Working people and taxpayers know what the Democrat Party is, despite Bernhard’s illusion that he can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. You can boldly claim that the party of higher taxes, of more government abrogation of people’s liberties, of blaming America first for the world’s ills, of abdication of personal responsibility, and of favoritism to client groups as opposed to the individual, is none of that, but those who live lives of honesty, steadfastness, and reliance on higher, eternal truths, who work hard to support themselves and their families and just want government to leave them alone to do that will know the difference. Bernhard’s attempt to make an elitist political party seem like it cares about just such people will ring hollow to them.

If Bernhard truly labors under these illusions, the Angry Left base of the Democrats will feel betrayed, the typical Louisianan will recognize him as a fraud, and he won’t be long for this job.


oyster said...

I would venture to say Mr. Bernhard understands his party is called the Louisiana Democratic party, not the "Democrat" party as you repeatedly, and wrongly, term them.

I don't believe he'll be calling his opponents the "Republicans Party" or "Republics Party". That would simply show an embarrassing degree of ignorance.

Jeff Sadow said...

The party after it shed the additional labels it had in the early 19th century and the "-ic" was called the "Democrat Party" or "Democracy" often throughout the 19th century. However, in the 20th, "Democratic," which used to be used merely as an adjective to describes things of the "Democrats," also began to be used commonly as the party name. Today, the party organization itself prefers the title "Democratic" although as individuals they call themselves "Democrats." I like to use the older version because it points out a fundamental truth about the issue preferences of today's party -- they are an elitist organization not really caring about the greater publlic, but only about what they can get for their special-interest backers.