Who says public radio is boring? We spiced it up Monday by injecting the radical concept of blind justice into a debate over the federal budget deal.
Called upon to bring the Tea Party perspective to a roundtable discussion on NPR affiliate KCRW’s To the Point, I joined host Warren Olney, Mother Jones’ David Corn, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin and others. The panel was asked to consider who came out of the budget deal a winner.
The exchange began with politics-as-usual. Rubin and Corn agreed that House Speaker John Boehner had emerged as the political victor, though they parted on whether that was a good thing. I brought a different take.
Walter Hudson: I can tell you who I think didn’t win. I don’t think the American people won. I don’t think posterity won. I don’t think the taxpayer won. And the reason why isn’t so much because of the particular outcome. Jennifer Rubin makes a fair point, that this may have been the best outcome we could have hoped for in terms of political possibility. However, I think an opportunity was wasted by the Republicans to move the conversation in another direction.
Mr. Corn points out that the Democrats have accepted, to a certain extent, some of the narrative the Republicans are offering. I don’t think that narrative goes far enough. I think we need to start talking about the fundamental role of government, and the basic morality behind taking money from people who have it to give it to people who don’t, as if that were some sort of moral imperative. I think that’s the reverse of reality. I think that we cannot continue to operate on that assumption, which is now a given. We don’t argue whether or not the government should [redistribute wealth]. We’re simply arguing about the extent to which it should…
Warren Olney: Do you think there really is a prospect for the fundamental change that you’re talking about? You sound a bit like Ayn Rand.
Hudson: The prospect certainly isn’t going to be realistic as long as our narrative continues to be predicated on the assumption that we can continue with politics as usual. This is why the Tea Party exists. Those of us who thought we could take it for granted that the fundamental precepts of justice translated to “you get to keep what’s yours and I get to keep what’s mine, and you don’t hurt me and I don’t hurt you” – That’s been perverted into these different brands of justice [social, economic, environmental] that translate to exactly the opposite. “Because I don’t have, I get to take from you.” We need to have that debate in the political discourse. The Republicans had that opportunity [in this budget contest].
When you take a look at, for example, this rider about Planned Parenthood. This was a perfect opportunity for the Republicans to take on the argument that they’re always going to face. Because, no matter what they’re trying to cut, the other side’s always going to say, “You’re willing to shut down the government over that?” But this would have been the perfect opportunity to turn that around… Harry Reid came out and said that he was not going to allow one cent of defunding of Planned Parenthood to take place. Regardless of whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, why should anybody be forced to pay for someone else’s abortion?… Why should I have to pay for your health care? Why should I have to pay for your provision? That’s the conversation that we need to have, and it’s an opportunity that was missed(…)