Barack Obama says that "American-made motorcycles like Harleys don’t matter to John McCain."
Why, you ask?
Because he didn't support legislation requiring the government to buy American-made motorcycles. He actually thought that the government ought to buy motorcycles based on price and quality. Maybe that would be Harleys. Maybe not. He just wanted government to get the best deal for taxpayers' money.
So often we are faced with arguments that, if you don't support the idea that government should mandate a particular outcome, then you must oppose that outcome/ This reflects an historical move toward, as Hugh Heclo puts it in this marvelous essay Christianity and American Democracy, that the "one thing of supreme inportance in politics is government policy" and that democracy ought to entail "commitment to a never-ending policy agenda of social problem-solving."
But not everything that is potentially good should be mandated and not every good outcome is best acheived by some kind of fiat from above. It's not true that, if the government does it, it won't be done.
I took a few minutes this morning to surf around our local blogs and found an example close to home.
In a post largely dedicated to the idea that "Republicans are bad," Jay Bullock offers, as an example, the fact that conservative columnist Patrick McIlheran, following an accident in which someone was killed by a tire flying off a truck, was not convinced that more government inspections were essential. Jay's summary is that the "right" opposes "any requirements that corporations try not to, you know, kill people ...."
Really? I guess that politics must be very important to you if you think those who disagree with you want to let corporations kill people.; if you think that, in the absence of inspections, trucking companies are actually indifferent to whether tires fly off their vehicles, disrupting the movement of freight, bringing lawsuits, and killing people.
So John McCain hates Harleys. Patrick McIlheran wants people to die.