Act your age: Join the Grownup Party

By BRAD WARTHEN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
YOU’VE HEARD of the “UnParty” and the “Energy Party” — at least, you have if you’ve kept an eye on this space for any length of time.
But I have yet another name for my never-ending battle against the foolishness of the Democratic and Republican parties: the Grownup Party.
What is the Grownup Party? Let’s start with what it isn’t. It isn’t based on age. If it were, John McCain would win the party’s nomination this year, hands down. But John McCain recently proposed something that violated everything the Grownup Party stands for: a summerlong gasoline-tax vacation, which treats the voters of this country like children: You don’t like paying those mean ol’ nasty gas prices? Awww. Here’s a lollipop. Hillary Clinton likewise offended GP sensibilities by endorsing the McCain plan. Barack Obama, the youngest candidate out there, was the only one acting like a Grownup. (Although he did vote for a similar tax holiday as an Illinois state legislator. Presumably, he’s matured since then.)
Why do Grownups not like the gas tax vacation? Sigh. Because they understand that if it has any effect on the market at all, it will encourage more fuel consumption during the busy summer months, which is bad enough in itself, but even worse in that increased demand leads to higher prices. And that way the money will go to the oil companies (it was reported last week that investors were disappointed because Exxon Mobil made a profit of only $10.9 billion in the first quarter), to petrodictators and to terrorists, instead of into the U.S. Treasury — that is, our treasury.
Which brings us to something else about Grownups — they understand that in America, the government is us, rather than being some menacing thing out there, and that we’re very fortunate to live in this country at this time rather than in Russia under the czars — or under Vladimir Putin, for that matter. And we’re especially fortunate not to live in a place where there is no government, such as Somalia under the warlords.
When the government does something we don’t like — which is pretty often, political immaturity being rampant — we don’t stamp our feet and talk about taking our ball (or  taxes, or whatever) and going home. Instead, we take responsibility for it, and try to bring it along. Yes, it’s a thankless task, like picking up after one’s children, or explaining to them why they can’t stay out late with their friends. But someone has to do it.
The task may seem hopeless as well — but only to the sort who gives up. Grownups know they don’t have that option, so they keep putting forth ideas that make sense, day after day, just like Daddy  going to work.
Here’s an example: On Friday, I posted an item on my blog headlined, “Free Thomas Ravenel.” Yes, it’s childish to cry out for attention with such misleading stunts, but I did it in the service of a Grownup purpose (and besides, it helped my three-year-old blog reach its millionth page view later that day). That purpose was to raise the question, Why do we want to pay to feed, clothe and house Mr. Ravenel for the next 10 months?
That’s what we, the taxpayers, are going to do. Ravenel attorney Bart Daniel told the press last week that his client will report to federal prison May 29 to begin serving his sentence for conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute.
Yes, he needs to be punished for flouting our laws (especially since he was our state treasurer at the time), but think about it: Mr. Ravenel is a multi-millionaire. Wouldn’t a multi-million-dollar fine — him paying us — make more sense than us paying for his incarceration? Yes, he was fined $221,000, and had to pay $28,000 in restitution. But we’re going to turn right around and spend a lot of that to keep him locked up over the next few months.
That’s on the federal level. Closer to home, South Carolina locks up more people per capita than almost any other state, and then refuses to appropriate enough money to run our prisons safely, much less to rehabilitate prisoners so that maybe we won’t have to lock them up again.
That’s why we advocated Attorney General Henry McMaster’s “middle court” idea in a Wednesday editorial. It would operate in a way similar to drug courts, combining individual attention with certain punishment for anyone who breaks the rules. But as long as offenders followed those rules, we wouldn’t waste money locking them up.
So far, the boys and girls over in the Legislature have not gone for this idea. That’s bad.
This is good: The city of Columbia is facing up to the fact that it costs money to lock people up for more offenses than Richland County does. The city has finally agreed to start paying a per diem fee for city prisoners housed in the county jail.
As we said in a Friday editorial, the good news here is that as a result, the city will encourage police officers to lock up fewer offenders who pose no physical threat to the citizenry.
This is progress. When it comes to nonviolent offenders, the “lock ’em up but don’t pay for guards” position is infantile — all emotion and immediate gratification, without a logical foundation. It’s encouraging to see our capital city moving away from it, however gradually. We await similar signs of progress on the state and federal levels.
But we’re not holding our breath. That would be childish.

To read past columns about the Grownup Party and more, please proceed at a sedate, dignified pace to
thestate.com/bradsblog/.

19 thoughts on “Act your age: Join the Grownup Party

  1. COL.[retd]A.M.Khajawall

    Dear Fellow Americans,
    Our Great-grand Nation, the United States of America
    is and will face very critical “Challenges” in coming,
    months, years, and decades. It is very essential that
    we pick out next President on following criteria.
    1. A candidate with “Vision and Statesmanship”.
    2. A candidate with ” Stable Character and Morality” .
    3. A candidate with “Presidential Temperament” and
    “sound Judgment”.
    4. A candidate with “little Washington exposure” and
    “connectedness with New voters”.
    5. A candidate who “Inspires us up” rather than
    “Tears
    us down”.
    In my professional opinion there is only one candidate
    left, who bears all the above qualities aand that is
    Honorable Senator Obama.
    As an independent registered voter since 1974. I voted
    for Carter, voted for Reagan, voted for First Bush,
    and second Bush in 2000. In the process last interest
    and stopped voting.
    This time we can not afford to stay on side lines and
    let Washington stay the same.
    We can not afford our Greatgreat Nation to become less
    than what we are and can be.
    We need to send clear and candid message to the world
    and some 24 hour partisan hateful media. These media
    outlets are trying to deprive, dupe, and derail us
    from getting it right this time.
    They are trying there best to deny us better rather
    than bitter future. { Our Greatgrand Nations people
    are
    persistently and constantly subjected to Psychological
    terrorism” thru these hatful partisan media outlets.
    We Americans are not going to allow them
    psychologically terrorized us and silence the masses.
    I am sure that we will get it right this
    time and elect Senator Obama our next President. let
    us not get dragged down into racism and sexism.
    Let us remember that our Greatgrand is constituted of
    family, fellowships, friends, faith, funds, fun,
    future with fairness and freedom and without fear or
    favor.
    We can not afford to lose any of above. Let us stand
    up, be counted, save, build our Greatgrand Nation for
    centuries to come.
    God Bless our Great grandNation, its diverse people.
    Our future needs stability, security, safety,
    sustained progress and restoration of our due status
    in this perilous Global World at all levels.
    yours truly,
    COL.[retd] A.M.Khajawall
    Forensic Psychiatrist.
    Disables American Veteran.
    Las Vegas Nevada.

    Reply
  2. bud

    COL. Khajawall,
    I whole heartidly agree with your sentiments. We need Barack Obama, and need him badly.
    Further, since Brad insists on yet another rant about T. Rav, which we’ve already discussed at great length, this is an appropriate change of subject. It sends a message that we want to move on from the same trivial local issues.

    Reply
  3. Mike Cakora

    I think Obama’s persona is a myth.

    There may not be two politicians on the national stage more alike than Barack Obama and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Both went to Harvard Law, are African-American politicians with mass appeal, and use soaring rhetoric to promise a bold new postpartisan politics.
    But the two men differ in one critical area: Mr. Patrick has an executive record. And, unfortunately for the senator from Illinois, it reveals that the Patrick-Obama brand of politics isn’t really new. It is, in fact, something akin to the failed liberalism of old, in a new vessel.

    Senator Obama’s buddy, Deval Patrick, ran the same sort of campaign, which should not be a surprise since he had the same campaign manager, David Axelrod. He does not have the executive experience nor political talent to compromises, much less lead.

    Reply
  4. Brad Warthen

    This is my Sunday column, bud. To the vast majority of readers, the topic is new.
    Also, given the number of people SC locks up unnecessarily, it’s hard to understand under whose set of values the subject would be regarded as “trivial.”
    Further, your apparent belief that presidential politics has somehow been insuffiently examined and re-examined on this blog is even more puzzling.
    I submit that there is an overabundance of blogs out there that consist of NOTHING beyond infinitely repeating what has already been hashed and rehashed on cable TV, 24/7.
    If you have trouble finding them, I’ll see if I can find you a few URLs…

    Reply
  5. Brad Warthen

    … or were you just complaining and criticizing from force of habit?
    Anyway, to answer your negativity with something positive, let me again welcome you to the ranks of Obama supporters (you weren’t all the way there last time I made note of it). Some of us, of course, were praising Obama back when you were still adamantly supporting Hillary

    Reply
  6. mike

    Brad: I was all ready to hop aboard your Grownup Party bandwagon until I got to your puerile suggestion that a drug dealer go free for his crimes simply because he has money and friends in high places. Apologists for the rich have always found ways to skirt the judicial system, which is a major reason it is held in such ill repute. You certainly have come up with a novel idea, but you pervert your cause by coupling your Grownup Party with the ludicrous stance on Ravenel. Here is a Grownup proposal: Send Ravenel the bill for his incarceration. He can afford it.

    Reply
  7. bud

    The so-called “failed” liberal policies of Massachusetts continue to serve the people of that state well as it’s people continue to enjoy a very high standard of living and a long life expectancy.
    What has really failed in this country is the conservative policies of the Bush Administration. And his approval ratings underscore just what a disaster conservative governance is. Rassmussen now shows a record low approval rating for the Decider. Other polling organizations show the same thing with approval ratings below Nixon, Truman or Carter at their lowest. This all reflects the utter failure of not just Bush but the entire conservative agenda. We’ve had a failed foreign policy that has led us into a hopeless quagmire that claims 50 Americans a month with an ultimate price tag of $3 trillion and counting. Our manufacturing and construction sectors bleed jobs by the thousands. Only the government sector along with a few service industries such as health care keep our economy for a complete collapse.
    This is why we need Barack Obama. He is a brilliant man with a promising future as the leader of the great country of ours. He will save us from a third Bush term that promises more of the same failed conservative policies that plague the middle and working classes. Barack is not as liberal as I would like him to be, but he is a true visionary who will end the menace of conservatism. And the end of that failed political philosophy cannot come soon enough.

    Reply
  8. Randy E

    Newsweek is detailing McCain’s pastor problem . McCain’s prized endorsement warns that God will release terrorists to attack us.
    Brad, where are the multiple threads on this?

    Reply
  9. Brad Warthen

    Mike, I missed the part where I advocated, or even remotely suggested or hinted, that “a drug dealer go free for his crimes simply because he has money and friends in high places.”
    Perhaps you could point it out to me.

    Reply
  10. Doug Ross

    I’m nearly done with Ron Paul’s new book, “The Revolution” (#1 seller on Amazon).
    It’s a blueprint for what America ought to be… on war, taxes, abortion, civil liberties, and freedom of individuals to challenge the looting of the American public to satisfy the whims of a few.
    It may be tough for some people to read because it is chock full of factual information and “grownup” analysis of the disturbing path this country is on.
    Paul boils down the current way government works in very simple terms: A and B get together to determine how much money to take from C to give to D.

    Reply
  11. Lee Muller

    No patriotic American can support Barak Obama.
    Barak has made a point of showing disrespect for the America flag and national anthem.
    He criticized those who question his patriotism, but he has never apologized for his large number of unpatriotic remarks.
    He has never said anything patriotic. He has blamed America as deserving to be attacked by terrorists, just like Jeremiah Wright has done.
    Barry Obama changed his name to Barak to shed his “American name”. He hasn’t changed it back. A skunk can’t change his stripes.

    Reply
  12. Doug Ross

    Another point Paul makes – if we were able to cut Federal government spending by 40%, it would take us all the way back to…..
    1997.
    He also reprints a speech Reagan made on why America should never have a draft or even registration for selective service. America should be a country people VOLUNTEER to fight to defend. No free country should ever rely on forced service.

    Reply
  13. Lee Muller

    The socialistic liberals want to draft young people into work gangs, like the ones FDR copied from Hitler and Mussolini, run by the US Army.

    Reply
  14. Randy E

    Lee’s right, I was at school today as we indoctrinated some youngsters. Each was given a copy of the Communist Manifesto and a map to GOP headquarters to commit gang-like offenses. I told them to yell out “pig” when the blue lights appear.
    bud, it’s amazing how such liberal bastions in the northeast can be so successful despite all that government oversight and the union activity.

    Reply
  15. Doug Ross

    Lee,
    I disagree. I think it is the neo-conservatives who want to pluck the boys off the farms and out of the inner cities so their kids don’t have to go.
    There are plenty of Republicans willing to to use our nation’s youth as cannon fodder. As long as they make their tee times, it’s all good.

    Reply
  16. Lee Muller

    I am not speculating, Doug. Hillary long ago outlined her vision of REQUIRING young people to work a few years for the government at minimum pay. Barak is calling for the same thing. Of course, neither one of them ever volunteered for anything. They are visionaries for how the rest of us should live, romantic tyrants.
    Constant war footing is a characteristic of modern liberalism, not conservatism. President Bush is a liberal, with a broad vision of creating democracies all over the feudal Mideast. Liberal Democrats started this war in 1998. Bush began fighting it under the nearly unanimous authorization given Clinton, who dropped 80,000 tons of bombs on Iraq, because he lacked the will to commit ground troops, and just wanted to look like he was doing something.
    Democrats only dislike this war because Bush is winning incremental victories where they failed miserably to protect America. They were all in favor of invading Haiti to put the Marxist dictator Aristide back in power. They armed Muslims in Albania and Bosnia and re-Balkanized Yugoslavia, a war that is still going on today.

    Reply
  17. bud

    President Bush is a liberal, with a broad vision of creating democracies all over the feudal Mideast.
    -Lee
    Well that’s really worked out well hasn’t it? Exactly which successful democracies are you refering to? The one in Afghanistan that basically oversees one of the poorest nations in the world and one that has lost control over 90% of the country. Or could it be the one in Iraq that can’t even fight a successful battle to gain control over Basra. Even with U.S. help! Or perhaps it’s in Palestine with it’s Hamas government. Or Iran with it’s nuclear ambitions in tact and lunatic theocracy more powerful than ever. How about Pakistan. An ally for sure but not really very democratic.
    The bottom line is this: Freedom is hardly on the march. A more apt term is that Freedom is mired in quicksand. How ever you label Bush his record is the same. I choose to label him: Failure.

    Reply
  18. Mike

    Your point(s)! I was sloppy. What I should have said is that I am repulsed by your proposal to give Ravenel a bye on cell time because it is based merely on his wealth. Doing the Grownup thing in this case is standing tall and locking the guy away. Justice should not be meted out by the dollar.
    Mike

    Reply
  19. Lee Muller

    bud, whether you consider G.W. Bush to be successful, his policies of spreading democracy are quite liberal.
    His spending on education is liberal.
    His proposal to spend 10 times as much as Clinton on solar, geothermal, wind and fuel cells is liberal.

    Reply

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