Skip to content

The Republican Party is not the solution to our problem; the Republican Party is the problem

Reagan famously said “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”. This quote has been taken out of context and twisted into implying that the government is incapable of solving problems, so the size of government should always be reduced by cutting taxes and eliminating government regulation.

But if you read the entire original quote, you can see that this isn’t at all what Reagan meant:

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden.

Reagan was saying that everyone must share in the burden of governing, not just people actually in government. Governing is everyone’s responsibility, not just some elite group, starting with being responsible for ourselves.

I was thinking about this while reading the latest disclosures about the Florida Republican Party. Top officials of the Florida GOP are facing criminal charges, and now the former office manager has broken her silence and is painting a picture of rampant corruption, waste, and fraud. The office manager, Susan Wright, describes an elite “club” of top party officials who spent millions of dollars on personal vacations, birthday parties for their children, gambling, Wayne Newton concert tickets, expensive cigars, fancy dinners, jobs for friends, and even oil portraits of themselves.

What makes this even more stunning is the sense of entitlement displayed by members of the “club”. At the same time that the officials were misappropriating millions of dollars, the party itself was going broke. When Wright questioned these lavish expenditures, she was told that it was none of her business, and that she would lose her job if she didn’t keep quiet. The top officials even set up a shell company that they owned, and funneled party funds into the company. When Wright objected, she was summarily fired.

The bottom line is, it isn’t government that is the problem, it is bad government that is the problem. When you let some elite group take over any organization — whether it is lobbyists taking over Congress, or a small group of crooks stealing money from a political party — that’s the real problem. The Florida Republican party shows just how bad it can get, and really makes you wonder: if they can’t even govern their own party, how can we expect them to run the government?



  1. ravious wrote:

    The modern day Republican Party in America is more like the German Nazi Party of WWII than they are not.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 3:04 am | Permalink
  2. Brad wrote:

    You actually have the meaning of that quote completely and totally wrong. He was not saying that people need to bear the burden of the government, in fact he was saying nearly exactly the opposite.

    He was saying that people, not government, should be allowed to determine their own fate. If the members of a populace are incapable of that, then how could you select a leader from them? He was saying that we must bear the burden and responsibility for ourselves, not that we must bear some burden of government.

    From later in the address:
    “We are a nation that has a government–not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.”

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 3:09 am | Permalink
  3. brian wrote:

    While there is a part of me that might agree that it is the Republican’s fault, they are not 100% to blame. The Democratic party has done many stupid things also. I would put it more 60/40.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 4:17 am | Permalink
  4. Basta wrote:

    I don’t see how the additional context of the quote changes it. It only adds the idea that personal responsibility must take the place of government in our lives.

    I’ll concede that BOTH parties have their fair share of terrible abuses, like the one in the article, but that’s what Reagan talked about reducing.

    And don’t think that because this one group of Republicans abused their power, that they represent me, or all of us, or only us.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Brad, you say: “He was saying that people, not government, should be allowed to determine their own fate. If the members of a populace are incapable of that, then how could you select a leader from them?”

    So, the Republican Party of Florida were allowed to determine their own fate and proved to be incapable. How can you select a leader from them?

    Basta, I agree that a problem with one group of the Republican Party doesn’t necessarily mean that they represent everyone in the party. But when I look at the de-facto “leaders” of the Republican Party right now — people like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, Michael Steele — I have to wonder about the entire party.

    Ravious, I don’t think name calling helps.

    Brian, I’ll take 60/40. Although I would claim that a significant portion of the Democratic Party’s 40% would be failing to push back against Republican wars, tax cuts for the rich, reckless deregulation and other give-aways to multinational corporations.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  6. patriotsgt wrote:

    @ Iron Knee,
    OK, if you want to sling mud at individuals or small groups, you won’t have to look far into either party. The fringes of both parties are extreme at best, radical at worst. I think it’s better to refer to the methods of achieving and end rather than what party one has to belong to.
    Conservatives believe solid framework of regulation, less gov’t intervention, people and business are in charge of their own destiny. Spend what you earn.
    Liberals believe in increased gov’t control to protect the people, gov’t in charge of peoples destiny, live and let live in most social issues. Spend what you and your children earn.
    The democrats (of which i’m one) have been in charge since 2006, yet they took no stand, lobbied for no fiscal responsibility, and spent deficit money at at an unprecendented rate. The republicans did no better during the same time.
    We have a paradox in gov’t in that we need fiscal conservatives to counterbalance a liberal minded need to take care of individuals. If we only have one side its out of balance, we need both to be successful.
    The problem with the current administration is leadership. They are dividing America not bringing it together. I understand that tough politics is played, but it destroys team building, cooperation, progress and ultimately our nation. This President needs to focus less on politics and more on leadership.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  7. JTK wrote:

    With a name like PATRIOTSGT and with your description of conservatives and democrats, I think that you may be lying about being a democrat. Your words and your chat handle are more indicative of a right wing mindset.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  8. Republicains serve money.

    Republicains serve money for thier own gready intrests and for the ‘special intrests’ who give to them. Thier silos are bursting with illgoten, immoral wealth.

    “You can not serve two Masters.” Republicains have chosen thiers – $$$$$.

    Republicains like Jesus said: “These people honor God with thier lips, not with thier hearts.” “Thus in vain do the masses worship God, teaching not the will/doctrins of God, but thier own man-made doctrins.”

    Conservitives and right-wingers aquiring the money which they prize, they will spend stollen from another, not giving to those who trully own it and deserve it, thier fondness/gread for money which they have made thier master, makes them unwilling to pay taxes, (with money they have plundered from the 90% who deserve it). They have received their reward, and as Jesus said in : 10 Maidians; Lazareth the Beggar; Etc thier punishment will come. God is the same now, from the beginning and forever. They don’t like what Jesus taught in : 10 Maidians; Lazareth the Beggar; Etc. because as God said: “an evil tree brings forth evil fruit. Right-wingers have had thier reward, and thier punishment will come. Read : 10 Maidians; ETC. ETC. ETC.

    Read: 10 Maidians; Lazareth the Beggar; Sermon on Mount; for whom to through a feast; what Jesus told man who asked what he must do to be saved; Etc. Etc. Etc.

    “Thus in vain do the masses(right-wingers) worship God….” “These people (right-wingers) worship God with their lips….”

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  9. patriotsgt wrote:

    Sorry JTK, I’m a bonafide conservative democrat and veteran. I believe it is the responsibility of government to help those subject to misfortune, to educate our children to the best of our ability and to preserve our environment for future generations. I also believe everyone is responsible for contributing to the greater good, taking care of oneself and helping a neighbor. We must do all these things within our means. Our congress currently operates without a budget, how many households spend without regard for their income and would you recommend that for your child in teaching them how to manage their finances. We must have both compassion for our fellow man and the courage to tell them truth.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  10. JTk wrote:

    The claim that democrats believe in spending what you and your children earn is an unusual belief for someone professing to be a democrat. Democrats have a far better record for spending within their means than conservatives do, and this has been true for generations. Many of your statements about the what the Democrats have done in the past few years are flat out false. Took no stand? Health care reform, new rules on credit cards, dealing with a potential world wide recession? Lobbied for no fiscal responsibility? You will have to provide a source for that because to me it sounds like a ridiculous Republican talking point. Do you mean ‘not lobbied for fiscal responsibility?’ Still untrue. Spend deficit money at an unprecedented rate? Do you understand economics at all? Spending is how you get out of, avoid, or reduce the effects of a recession. Not spending that money would have had consequences world wide and many economists think more should have been spent. Again, your words feel like Republican talking points. You imply that it is this administration that is dividing America, not the crazy right wing.

    I have a hard time believing you. I hope you can understand why.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
  11. patriotsgt wrote:

    I understand your points and I may come off sounding a bit republican. As a fiscal conservative I do not believe we can spend our way out of recession, we must invest our way out. Borrowing from foriegn governments is not the way FDR did it. We need to keep our debt in house, recession bonds. Under Bush the deficit reached 8 trillion in 8 years. Under this congress and admin it has reached 13 in 1.5 years. The interest we pay will soon equal our revenue. Why didn’t we take the 750 billion and put several million people to work fixing infrastructure, erasing grafiti, repairing schools, etc. with a jobs program like FDR. When I referred to take no stand it was from 2006-2008 while Bush was in office. Health care reform has many good aspects, however no one still knows all the hidden content. Already the WH, CBO and HHS Chief Actuary have reported many of the savings are not there. It will add to the deficit, it will ration care, it will drive up costs. Not because it was a bad idea, but because it was written poorly. Thanks to the new credit card rules my interst went from 8.9 to 17.9 on a 780 fico. Credit companies now charge everybody for those that missused credit. Not a problem with me as I pay my balance off every month, 2 at the most. Because of other banking reforms I can no longer refi my mortgage if I want, because I “don’t qualify”, and it doesn’t matter I’ve never missed a payment on anything. While Congree in their haste to tighten the screws on big bad business has had the effect of choking out the consumers. For the global, didn’t Germany and many others at the G20 say enough spending, time to tighten belts and reduce spending? I appreciate the frannk and honest discourse JTK.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    Actually, Roosevelt ran up the largest national debt we have ever had (as a percentage of GDP). And even so it wasn’t enough. It took this massive spending program called WWII in order to finally pull us out of the great depression.

    By the way, I am definitely a fiscal conservative too, so your comments are definitely welcome here, although you should check some of your facts.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  13. B. Honest wrote:

    Actually Bush left us with a deficit of 11.5 Trillion and President Obama has only spent 1.5T in 18 months, and a part of that was already spent by the Bush Admin, but since it went out the door on Pres. Obama’s watch it has been considered his spending. Part of why the 780B was not spent where it needed to be is because the repubs put limits on it, and then voted against it, hoping that it would fail to begin with. Various people, like Prof. Krugman have argued that the stimulus was much too small to begin with, and spread out over too long, and I agree.
    Health Care is ALREADY rationed, by the insurance co’s, they deny coverage when major medical bills mount, tell people they are no longer covered once they get cancer etc. I would rather that Health Care was limited in an upfront way rather than behind closed doors and popped on us as a surprise when we are at our sickest and unable to fight it.

    Presently the Banks and Corporations are sitting on more money than ever before in history, with the lowest tax rates in history, and even though they bet on all sorts of risky Weapons Of Financial Mass Destruction, they are disingenious enough as to state that “it is a bad business climate and they are scared of risking their money at this time.” Sorry, but that excuse does not fly when their profits have been going up since the economic collapse and yet they are not hiring. The only Real excuse I can see is that they are trying to bring down this Administration and the Dems with bad economic numbers. The problem with that is that the People can see what is really going on, the Banksters and CorpoRats are hand in hand with the Repubs as plainly shown by Barton, Boehner, Steele and all of the right-wing talking heads and radio hate shows. The Used Teabags have plainly shown themselves to be totally clueless about what it takes to Govern and will be further marginalized in Nov. The only real good they have done is to fracture the Repub party, drawing away votes much like Nader did to the Dems.
    I actually am fiscally conservative, however, the recent crops of CEO’s and CorpoRats have broken the contract between Employees and Employers. Employees will happily work and do all that they can for the company they work for, as long as the Company Employing them takes proper care of them, pays them fairly etc. Ever since Reagan the Companies and Corporations have concentrated on short term profits and huge pay/bonus packages for those at the top of the ladder, while holding pay down and cutting employees so those remaining have to do more work for less money, once inflation is taken into consideration. The banks have gone nuts with their charges and interest rates so that no one is actually able to save, most folks are barely afloat even if they do still have their jobs.
    All in all, while the Dems are by far not perfect, they are a LOT closer to it than the Repubs and their baby sister the Used Teabags. I have a lot of trouble with all of the lies and distortions coming from the right and wish that the Government had some way of using the old Truth In Advertising laws against them. Oh Well, I can only hope that a Majority of Americans will see through their smokescreen of lies and deceits come November and turn the Repubs into the political laughingstock of a minority that they really are!

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  14. patriotsgt wrote:

    @ Iron Knee- Your correct and I’ll tighten up my shot group. Thanks.

    I agree with some of what you have said. I personally don’t think the govt. should bail out any business. Perhaps they can issue a govt. loan with interest so at least taxpayers get something but not at the 0 interest. They didn’t learn anything except they got away with one.
    I agree, HCR fixed some inequalities like being dropped from coverage, or denied coverage. Like SS or Medicare, when they first began there was opposition, but today we would not get rid of either and HC will eventually make it there. My issue is we just don’t seem to know what the cost will be and the impacts on individuals and business. It seems the estimates are continually being revised, unfortunately upward.
    For big business and banks sitting on the sidelines with trillions in cash, I’m sure some small part is political, but I think the greater reason is uncertainty. HR created liabilities that business will have to absorb and the full extent is still unknown. Financial Reform will create liabilities for business and the extent is unknown. Cap and Trade legislation is still on the horizon which will create liabilities for business and the extent is unknown. These unknowns create an uncertain climate for business to invest until they understand the rules and what their liabilities will be. How can a business forecast a 2-5 year plan in the current environment?
    I did some research on the debt and stand corrected. At the end of 2000 (Bush begins) the debt was 5.6 trillion, at the end of 2008 (Bush ends) it was 10.6 trillion and now of course stands at 13.2 trillion. The first 6 yrs congress was Rupub controlled and the last 4 Dem. Who’s to blame, all of them. Clinton and the Rupubs congress were the last to have a surplus and pay down the debt.
    On the name calling, there are a lot of bright people with good ideas and intentions in all 3 political parties. While I think the Repubs would like the Tea Partiers to be with them, I think most TPers want to distance themselves from both parties. Obstructionism is not new to either side. I think we all (Fox and MSNBC included) need dial down the rhetoric. We are Americans, the greatest nation the world has ever known. All of us need to understand the value that our different opinions and philosophies bring to the table; it is what makes us great and what keeps us great. Thanks for your honest remarks.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  15. cshpy wrote:

    The whole thing is like an old coin; dem’s on 1 side, rep’s on the other, tea partiers, etc all around the edge. The coin is old, beat up, with gouges, scratches, holes – the whole thing needs to be sent back to the mint & melted down! Replaced by a new, transparent coin; NO parties: no lobbyists: – everone sees what everyone else is doing! Nothing hidden – no surprises hidden in bills! Do away with the ‘baseball game’ mentality -No reps voting 1 way because their ‘team’ votes that way! With transparency there’s honesty! AND Federal Reserve – SAME THING!

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  16. cshpy wrote:

    More food for thought – Current reps (poisoned by the ‘taking sides crap’ should be all dismissed and new reps elected from each state with ‘parties’ thrown out the window! And law passed that lobbyists and other’s with corrupt intentions found trying influence any rep’s be hit with severe fines and/or imprisonment! Let there be a proper channel for any ‘suggestions’ in such a manner to avoid the ‘money talks’ syndrome! Suggestions from the poor being equal to the ones from the rich!
    Also, there should be a cap on both the income levels and timelines a rep is allowed to serve. Senators and congressmen should be making a modest middle class income with NO ‘perks! This would weed out those with ‘monetary’ ulterior motives! There should be (perhaps) a 2 year term, with the possibility of only 1 reelection! This would weed out the ‘favors’ that ‘long termers’ can give to their friends, relatives, etc! Also making it more difficult for the ‘rich to buy a rep’!

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  17. patriotsgt wrote:

    @ CSHPY
    I think your on to something. 2 Term limits for Sen and Congress, just like the President. Then back to the real world for them all. I think there should be an amendment written concerning spending bills and limiting them to the primary purpose of the bill. No more hidden pork, if you want to fund a special project, put it up for a vote. Like the education money in the health care bill, or the multitudes of add-on’s to defense bills. No more bought elections where who raises the most wins, if you don’t live in that state, you can’t contribute to a candidate.

    I like that!

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink
  18. Brad wrote:

    Iron Knee, you say:
    “So, the Republican Party of Florida were allowed to determine their own fate and proved to be incapable. How can you select a leader from them?”

    My point was that you have the Reagan statement completely misrepresented, and you do.

    Your second question to me is a straw man. you have twisted what I said to suit your goals.

    1) I never once defended any party from Florida or otherwise.
    2) You have taken what Reagan did say, and now twisted it into a different statement entirely in order to discredit my statement. Reagan wasn’t speaking about choosing from a party, or any small group of people.
    3) No state or city selects leaders from only a single party anyway. They have a choice among candidates from several parties.

    You are misdirecting and misrepresenting things to make your point. Whether your point is valid or not is not at issue.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  19. 14Thoreau wrote:

    The liberal mentality is a victim mentality, period. The premise that we should take care of the incapable in our society is noble and shared by all. This notion has been turned from “incapable” to “less fortunate.” And, all of a sudden, everyone’s “less fortunate” and, as amazing as it may seem, Liberal. The day of reckoning nears and we all sit around bickering about left or right. To coin another quote from Reagan. “There is no left or right, only up or down.”

    Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink