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Take time to measure rhetoric vs. actual policies

Julie Doll
Special to Gannett Kansas

A common notion in politics is that Republicans decrease the size of government and reduce its interference in our lives. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats advocate government action as a means to improve the lives of people and society as a whole.

But current policy and recent history indicate both Democrats and Republicans want bigger, more intrusive government. It’s just a matter of where and how.

On the Democratic side, many candidates and their supporters advocate for government-operated health insurance for all Americans and for government financing of higher education for the entire nation.

Those are two of the more expensive ideas advocated by Democratic presidential candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Republicans and their allies also advocate for bigger government and more government intervention — even as they ridicule Democratic proposals.

For example, President Donald Trump’s tariffs are a form of big government intervention. Another example is his insistence on a new branch of the military, the Space Force, while increasing military spending elsewhere as well.

Yes, Trump has eliminated some regulations approved by President Barack Obama, but he also is issuing many new regulations, especially ones that restrict foreign travel and immigration.

One might argue such new rules are needed, which is the same argument those on the left use to justify their programs and policies.

It’s also the argument the Trump administration uses as it seizes Americans’ private property.

To clear the legal and funding path for a border wall, Trump declared illegal immigration a national emergency. And then, even though no credible study shows a wall would benefit the nation, his administration began the process of taking private land from American ranchers, farmers and others.

Republicans went ballistic when Obama attempted to further regulate land already owned by the federal government by establishing a new national monument in Utah. But they have remained quiet as the government seizes the private property of U.S. citizens.

This contradiction between preaching and practice also is seen on the state level.

Republicans in Topeka and other state capitals clamor frequently about government overreach when it comes to such issues as Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. But when it comes to abortion, they are willing to impose government mandates everywhere, going so far as to dictate the width of office corridors and to require doctors to provide misleading information to patients.

And it’s not just abortion that prompts calls for more government intervention.

With the support of ranchers and the Kansas Livestock Association, Rep. Ron Highland, R-Wamego, wants Kansas to require plant-based foods that imitate meat to carry disclaimers.

The move comes as faux-meat produced by such brands as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods gain popularity. Many companies have made big bucks turning environmental trends into businesses, so it’s no surprise a new industry is growing up around those who vilify the consumption of meat.

Again, one can argue that consumer labeling is good, and such mandates help ensure Americans are informed about what is in their food. But it is added regulation.

This campaign season, the political propaganda will be unceasing, as politicians and their dark-money supporters malign their opponents. It’s worth taking time to examine whether candidates’ rhetoric jibe with their actual policies and proposals.

A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.