There's been much written on political philosophy over the past few months, and I must admit that reading it is a bit of a slog. Call me a political simpleton if you will, but the more I read, the more I believe that when it comes to deciding which political system is best, the most important factor should be, must be, the results that particular system has shown in the past. All other factors and considerations concerning a particular political system must be secondary to the sustained results that political system has shown.
So, what do we hear about America's particular political system, socialized democracy? "The New Deal was a failure!" Never mind that for more than sixty years our economy was the envy of the planet and in many ways still is. Sure, there were ups and downs along the way, some bigger than others, but from the implementation of the New Deal to the repeal of Glass-Steagal, the strength of our economy was never truly threatened.
"The Great Society was a colossal failure!" Never mind that the statistics clearly show that the poverty rate was cut in half in the decade following LBJ's proudest achievement, and even now in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the poverty rate is still significantly lower than before the Great Society, as Politifact.com pointed out to Bill O'Reilly, and as is clearly shown in this chart.
In all America's history, the data make it obvious that the two programs above benefited more Americans to a greater extent than anything our government has done since Lincoln freed the slaves. Yet a substantial portion of conservative politicians and pundits vociferously claim that these two programs were attacks on the American way of life and assaults on freedom/democracy/free enterprise. So how do we define whether a government is good for its people?
I say that the higher the standard of living of the greater percentage of its population, and the greater the degree of the sustainability of said standard, the more successful the government. After all, what is the purpose of government? Many would cynically claim that a government is nothing more than power-hungry people wanting to exert authority over other people, and there are many, many examples where such is indeed the truth. But this is not true in all cases; indeed, in most cases in democratic nations, governments are comprised of people (some of whom are power-hungry) who are trying to do what they really think is best. I suspect that those who would claim otherwise, who try to tell us that all politicians are corrupt and/or power-hungry, do not realize that such a definition would include every president we've had; even including Washington and Lincoln and every one of America's Founding Fathers. To be sure, some (perhaps even most) were corrupt at least to some extent. But being ethically pure doesn't mean that one governs well (Adolf Hitler), nor does being somewhat corrupt mean that one cannot govern well (Winston Churchill).