I live in Washington. I could get to the Mall without an Uber. But I’m not walking on Saturday.
If you’re already preparing to shut your laptop or put down your phone, understand that I don’t live in a weird, post-election dimension where there’s no division, no uncertainty, and no voters who feel like this country’s president-picking system is antiquated because it robbed them of a really qualified woman who got more votes than the outsider guy, who won over frustrated Americans in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Florida, who were left out of the Obama recovery and unamused by all the Joe Biden memes.
I recognize the division; I come face to face with it every single day. We’re entering into unprecedented territory, at least by modern White House standards. Some people, busloads of people who will be arriving in D.C. on Saturday morning I imagine, are angry and scared. Some people are uncertain. Some people are relieved and vindicated. There are a lot of hot tempers fueled by bitterness toward opposition countless worked up people have only ever read about on the internet.
I’ve often wondered where my place is in all of this. I’m a woman and a member of a party routinely accused of waging war on…women. I’m opposed to abortion, but that doesn’t feel right to a lot of other women either.
I sympathize with efforts to use government as a tool to effect social change; in most cases, I just don’t think they’re effective. I recognize that our new-ish health care system nominally covered millions of previously uninsured people, but I feel for the families with sick loved ones who can’t afford their premiums for insurance plans that don’t cover the nearest hospital. I can’t quite get angry at the state for trying to be a parent where there aren’t any, but I get frustrated alongside the small business owner attempting somehow to employ those moms and dads while the former’s income taxes and payroll taxes and property taxes pay for the latter’s retirement and state health insurance and kids’ schools.
I think the Republican Party needs to be compassionate. But putting more people into a Medicaid system filled with physicians who aren’t accepting Medicaid patients until they get state backpay from 14 months ago isn’t compassionate. Taking half the capital from an enterprise run by someone who’d rather offer work opportunities and financial stability to unemployed people and their families isn’t compassionate. Bankrupting a state by forcing its privately employed residents to finance their own retirements while they fund the pensions of well-compensated public employees isn’t compassionate. Relying on a liberal machine to continue to run a city unchecked while hundreds of young people are murdered on its south-side streets every year isn’t compassionate.
Progress isn’t synonymous with or driven exclusively by bigger government. The centralization of power in Washington means government is farther away from the people it represents, farther from their needs, and farther from the local, community-driven, family-focused, day-to-day realities in which they live. When Congress let the Bush tax cuts expire, Democrats cheered higher rates for people like Warren Buffett; but investors don’t pay income taxes, 90 percent of U.S. businesses do. When Congress and the Obama administration needed to fund the Affordable Care Act, they tried to make health insurance and medical procedures less expensive by taxing health insurance and medical devices three different ways. When the federal government tried to make workplaces safer for employees, it sent state regulators to force an apparel company to replace its hand-operated t-shirt press with a less dangerous foot pedal that sprained someone’s ankle. When we hand over more power to government, people don’t get less poor. This country, its survival, and its wealth demonstrate exactly the opposite.
My boss calls this throat-clearing.
And so, I am not walking on Saturday because, in my humble opinion, the Inauguration protesters from Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, and women’s activist networks across the country believe almost exclusively that the answers to their problems lie in bigger government. They want more taxpayer funding, more robust requirements for health plan benefits, more affirmative action, more pay regulations and protected class regulations and safety regulations for employers.
I believe in equality, I believe in a lot of the ends Americans all over the country will have in writing on big signs while they march this weekend. But I don’t believe the means is limiting freedom. There’s no place for me in the marches on Saturday. Because an inclination toward small government is a passé position, and achieving equality, fairness, and social progress without government is a reactionary objective to the marchers. I’ll fight for more equality. But I won’t wake up at 5:00 A.M. on a Saturday morning to fight for more government.