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jca's avatar

Is it hypocritical when Republicans work in government (other than being politicians)?

Asked by jca (36043points) February 23rd, 2012

Other than politicians and their appointees, is it hypocritical when Republicans work in government?

Since Republicans believe in smaller government, it does not seem to make sense when they work for government and government programs. Do you agree or disagree?

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56 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Sure, I guess, if republicans actually believed in small government in the first place.

Also, small government conservatism and libertarianism != anarchism, so It’s not necessarily hypocritical for someone with these beliefs to work a gov job.

tom_g's avatar

Like @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard said, I don’t know any Republicans that are for “smaller government”. Sure, they use that term, but it’s almost because they can no longer speak in honest terms. “Smaller government” means something different to everyone, so they can speak of wanting “smaller government” while increasing government control over privacy, or increased government spending in other areas and still feel ok because they are cutting programs that they don’t like. Same goes for the military.

That said, I’m not all that concerned about a true “small government” person working in a government job. People take what they can to make a living for themselves and their family. Is it hypocritical? Not sure. Don’t care. We’re all a bunch of hypocrites.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I think the question needs to be tightened. There are some republicans who are decent people – who believe that government has a positive role to play. Those people accept that government has an important mission. Their issues may be on degree but not on the goals.

The real focus of your question should be on the Tea Party division of the RP. Those are the ones who – if they work in government – are being hypocritical. The TP accepts a limited government role in military, police, but not much else. So no self-identified TP member should be working (for example) in the Dept. of Education, the Dept, of Transportation, Commerce, etc.

Of course, if the TP members were honest, they would also refuse to receive Medicare, Social Security, and various other government “handouts”.

dabbler's avatar

Not sure you can make a generalization about “Republicans”. There are widely ranging factions. As well noted most Republicans are fans of huge debt whether they say so or not, they just won’t pay for anything (by raising enough revenue) but insist on spending anyway. How they can criticise Democrats for “tax-and-spend” policies when theirs is “borrow-and-spend” is beyond me.

I think @elbanditoroso makes a good observation. The TeaParty / Newt Gingrich types, yes! They are being hypocritical, running for office in a government they would claim can’t work.
As bad are the people who vote for someone who hates the institution they’d be put in charge of. What kind of mad cognitive dissonance is going on in those minds ?

tom_g's avatar

@dabbler: ” The TeaParty / Newt Gingrich types, yes! They are being hypocritical, running for office in a government they would claim can’t work.”

Really? I loathe being in a position to support tea party republicans, but I don’t see this as a problem at all. If I think that government has way too much power (or shouldn’t exist at all), then I might determine the best method for bringing about the changes I desire would be to run for office. Only there can I have the power to bring reduce government. It’s called working within the system.

CaptainHarley's avatar

So you’re saying that a soldier who is also a Republican is a hypocrite?

dabbler's avatar

Well, I don’t consider destroying the system ‘working within the system’. Changing the system so that it works for the benefit of the most people is one thing. Blowing the thing up because you don’t like it is another.

tedd's avatar

There are plenty of things Republicans are hypocritical about. It comes with the territory.

dabbler's avatar

(I don’t think Republicans have a monopoly on hypocrisy…)

I think this problem is broadly overlooked by the small government types:
Government is our best chance at controlling resources we all need to the benefit of the most people. The more accountable and responsive that government is to the people it affects the better. Where government does not control resources, something some institution or group or oligarchy or corporation will do that. They are unaccountable to the people they affect. At least operatives in a dysfunctional government can be voted out and better ones voted in (hopefully) to change policy for the better. We have no chance of voting out self-serving corporations, oligarchs, etc.

I’d rather have core resources that we all need in the control of our government.

tom_g's avatar

@dabbler: “Well, I don’t consider destroying the system ‘working within the system’.”

I’m not even sure how your comments relate to mine (other than the fact you used the phrase “working within the system”). You might want to re-read my comment you quoted from.

Blackberry's avatar

One talking point, or I guess trolling point I would hear from some republicans or conservatives is that people who work in government just can’t make it in the private sector or other non sense like that. What are these people expecting?

robmandu's avatar

I think the Republican position on this is far more nuanced than you’re giving credit for. Republicans are not anarchists. Heck, they’re not even as far as libertarian. Working towards smaller, more efficient, and reined-in government is not a hypocritical position for someone who wants to work in government. It’s the same driving force as what makes business lean and efficient.

That said, if you’re talking about politicians of any stripe then, by definition, they are hypocrites. Every single one is a snake oil salesman. That’s the only way they know how to survive.

Nullo's avatar

Not at all. Even small government (which not all republicans are for, anyway) needs somebody to gofer. And you could probably make the case that one might be trying to tighten up the ugly slack that causes so much waste.

CWOTUS's avatar

By this reasoning, I guess, every Democratic millionaire should also automatically be considered hypocritical, right?

tom_g's avatar

@CWOTUS – Nailed it. “Hypocritical” is used all the time as a political tool. You can (unjustly) derail someone’s attempts at trying to tackle environmental issues if you can point out that they fly on private jets, which are huge polluters.

mattbrowne's avatar

First of all, I can’t believe that all Republicans are anti-government fanatics. Second, there’s a difference between a government with offices/departments such as the Pentagon and general public administration. Who issues a passport if Newt Gingrich wants to travel? And I can’t imagine that even anti-government fanatics would want to downsize the Pentagon dramatically.

The issue is about excesses. Greece for example has at least 50% more state employees per capita working for the government than Germany, and what is now being revealed is that most Greek state employees are highly inefficient or even outright incompetent. I think conservatives and liberals alike want efficiency. This means not having more state employees than necessary. Having fewer, though, makes no sense either.

I think the whole issue for the Republicans is erasing jobs that are misinterpreted as institutions of socialism while in fact they are about solidarity and equal opportunities.

wundayatta's avatar

What better place to place yourself if you want to destroy the institution?

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne IIRC there have been times during our little crisis where the unemployment rate (used as a barometer for the overall economic health) was said to have been ameliorated due to created jobs, when in fact those jobs were simply with the state.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Nullo – The state should never create jobs that don’t make sense trying to lower unemployment in my opinion. The state should focus on good health care, good education and equal opportunities, so talented people will create the innovative products and services of the future, which will create jobs.

Ltryptophan's avatar

People can do the work that is available, that they are qualified to do, that they want to do, with no discrimination against their beliefs or political associations.

I have a better one than that. What if I were a very experienced republican commercial advertising director that makes campaign ads. The main election comes, and the Republican candidate chooses another campaign ad company. The Democrat candidate hears that I’m not being used, and is trying to find a new campaign ad company. They offer me $1,000,000 to make their ad for them.

So, the question is do I only make republican campaign ads, or do I make campaign ads for everyone?

Let me tell you, I would make the ad. The reason being is that I am not saying I agree with the ad. I am saying that if someone has enough money to buy something I suppose they should be able to buy it from me despite their beliefs, opinions, etc.

What if Rolex said…I don’t want to allow anyone who is “X” to wear my watches. Reasoning: People wear Rolexes as jewelry which might give them an advantage in certain circles. Rolex doesn’t want “X” people to have any advantage in any circle. Therefore, to sell “X” people a Rolex is hypocritical to what the mfg.‘s of Rolex believe.

The only way that I see it could be considered hypocritical is to do work that you directly disagree with morally. Is Social Security morally wrong, or is it just bad policy? Is abortion just bad policy, or is it wickedly evil? Is the campaign ad I’m asked to do blatantly lieing about a republican candidate, or is it factual? In any job, whoever we are, no matter what we believe, I think that we will find moments where if we perform our duty we will become hypocrits. The trick in life is seeing the arrival of those moments and having the courage to refuse to act counter to your moral compass. We should be objective, and balance all these issues carefully, without needlessly hurling judgments on our countrymen’s characters. Let people work, live, and strive.

Americans should not be in the business of baiting each other, but rather earnestly seeking the common good. If we were doing that the political biases that make this question necessary would become irrelevant. The devil is in the “How”.

How do we best teach children? How do we best help the sick? How do we best fund the government?

To get the best answers to these How questions it is each of our responsibility to send the right people to govern us. By “right” people I mean, people who genuinely want what is best for everyone. People who are not seeking power for powers sake. People who will not use the office for personal gain. People who have a clear VISION. YOU KNOW REAL LEADERS…

Make term limits shorter, make political compensation lower, reign in campaign spending, make lobbyists meet in the capitol cafeteria only.

Special interests run this country. The longer we all ignore it, the bigger the task it will be to clean it up. Look up from your partisanship and see that we’re all in this together.


Qingu's avatar

I wouldn’t say it’s hypocritical, just inherently destructive.

Imagine a business—say, Apple Inc. Now imagine a person who believes that Apple shouldn’t exist. This person thinks corporations have too much power and can cite all sorts of excesses and immoral failings of Apple Inc.

Now imagine this person becomes CEO of Apple Inc.

Would it surprise anyone if Apple Inc. under such a CEO is run incredibly poorly? Would it surprise anyone if the CEO deliberately crippled Apple’s operations? I’m thus also not surprised when Republicans do an incredibly poor job running government and deliberately cripple government operations.

robmandu's avatar

@Qingu, thanks for making me actually go to and bring up their platform document.~
(Ugh. There’s time I’ll never get back.)

In the section titled Reforming Government to Serve the People, the GOP explains that one of its core principles is to: Constrain the federal government to its legitimate Constitutional functions.

That’s not about eliminating the government. It’s about trying to fix it.

(I also have to say that I’m surprised. I wouldn’t have expected you to fall for an obvious and ridiculous bit of political sniping.)

To refine your analogy, what the Republicans say they want to do is more like when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and killed the Newton, OpenDoc, and terminated the operating system licensing to 3rd party hardware manufacturers. That determined focus on core business principles is what saved Apple.

To be clear, just because the Republicans make campaign promises does not mean that I expect they will follow-through on them.

CWOTUS's avatar

So well said, @robmandu.

tedd's avatar

@robmandu The Republican platform is based on the idea that many aspects of government are broken to begin with… a stance I, and many others on my side of the argument (see one half the country) would whole-heartedly disagree with.

Qingu's avatar

@robmandu, okay, fine. Let’s say the new CEO of Apple believes that the company should still exist—just that its activities should be limited by its original business model and it should only manufacture computers. So the new CEO bungles the smartphone, tablet, and ipod portions of Apple’s business. Sure, these programs are popular with consumers—just like Medicare, social security, and some semblance of regulatory structure and consumer protection are popular with voters. But it’s not part of the originalist fantasy “core” of the organization in question, so cut them.

Though I think it runs deeper than that, because such an ideological foe of business activity as our hypothetical CEO probably doesn’t have much knowledge about how businesses actually operate successfully. Similarly, ideological foes of government don’t seem to have much knowledge about how governments operate successfully. So you get idiocy like Republicans demanding the Fed only fight inflation and not unemployment, that printing fiat money is a hangable offense… things that only someone completely ignorant of macroeconomics and how governments can successfully manage a national economy would say.

You get travesties like George Bush appointing some horse-racing crony boob to head FEMA and then watching as the fallout from Katrina is hopelessly mismanaged. You get crony dipshits like Rumsfeld running the Defense Department and then watching as the Iraq War is bungled and Afghanistan is mismanaged for 7 years. You get the complete lack of regulation over the financial industry, and then we get a financial crisis.

People like Bush and the Republicans he appointed didn’t just believe ideologically that the government is “too big” and needed to be fix. They also did a completely shitty job running the government. They were utterly incompetent. And it’s really not hard to see how incompetence in the matter of governance coincides with an ideological aversion to the concept of governance in the first place.

DrBill's avatar

There has to be republican WORKERS to process the democratic benefits for those who won’t work.

Roby's avatar

All politicians are hypocrites!!!

DaphneT's avatar

Of course, some go to work with no set beliefs and end up coming home card carrying members, working on the inside can have that affect.

mattbrowne's avatar

All people calling all politicians hypocrites are hypocrites. They enjoy the privilege of living in a democracy where everybody can join a political party or even found a new party shaping the future of a country. But usually these people are cowards and don’t get involved. Judging all politicans using ridiculous generalization is so much easier. And if they fail in their own life, there’s always a scapegoat.

Qingu's avatar

@DrBill, actually, people in red states are more often moochers of the public dole than people in blue states. Speaking of hypocrites.

@Roby, does that statement make you feel special? You sound like someone who says “all businesspeople are greedy” or “all lawyers are liars.” Of course it’s the easiest thing in the world to make a sweeping generalization about a large group of people, and it has the added benefit of making you feel superior.

CWOTUS's avatar

…as is all too frequently done in this forum, in fact, when people discuss pillory “stupid Republican voters”, “extreme right-wingers”, etc.

But it would be in poor taste to point that out, I suppose.

Qingu's avatar

@CWOTUS, “Republican” is not a profession, it is an ideological position. It reflects a set of beliefs about how the world works and what should be done. Many of these beliefs are nonsense and borderline sociopathic.

“Politician,” “Businessperson” and “Lawyer” do not designate a set of beliefs. They are jobs. They are essential jobs for the functioning of any society. You can certainly argue that these professions tend to attract a certain stereotyped set of traits, and I’d probably agree. But I don’t think generalized railing against an essential profession is the same as railing against an ideological position.

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu I disagree; at the very least, every job requires compliance with a basic set of beliefs. Take businessmen. Would you expect to find @incendiary_dan in a board room? You would not, because his beliefs (insofar as he as expressed them here) are incompatible with the requirements of the position.

CWOTUS's avatar

And all I’m saying in a sweeping generalization is that a sweeping generalization is a sweeping generalization.

dabbler's avatar

I have to agree with everyone noting that it’s not reasonable or useful to generalize about Republicans these days, although I think it used to be a lot more possible. These days you can find disagreement about just about anything among Republicans, so they have in some sense become as fractious and poly-agenda as the Democrats, although their center is in a very different place.

@CaptainHarley I think the OP is more about Republican politicians than folks who have served in the military or even regular workers in the PostOffice or some bureacracy who just get the job done. Folks like that are far more value-added than most politicians, no matter what their political stripes.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, do you think someone who believes that government should not regulate pollution should not exist would be compatible with the position of EPA head?

jca's avatar

I just love when you see a Republican as head of an agency, department or other governing body, reducing the workforce by laying off workers, yet they never cut their own salaries (even if by a few percentage points) as a show of good faith.

CWOTUS's avatar

Except that unlike private enterprise, @jca, government salaries for executives are not set by the executives of the organizations they serve. In other words, the President, Department Secretaries and other executives of Cabinet offices and other regulatory agencies are determined “by others”. They don’t even have the authority to cut their salaries (or modify the salaries of those working for them).

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu You’re misreading my post, I think. I was disagreeing with your assertion that profession have no ideological component.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, then we’re in agreement, I think? Though this doesn’t address the underlying point: Republicans are applying for jobs that they don’t believe should exist.

robmandu's avatar

@Qingu, which jobs in particular?

Qingu's avatar

Regulatory agency jobs ran by people who don’t believe their industries should be regulated. I mentioned Bush appointed to FEMA someone with no experience in disaster management. Non-scientists to run scientific administrations like NASA. When Obama was elected, there was that Republican senator who wanted to run the census bureau who didn’t believe the census should happen.

It just seems like deliberate sabotage. Lots of liberals think the Defense Department should not exist, or at least should severely be cut back. But I think it would be criminal to appoint some hippie with no military experience to run the department of defense.

bkcunningham's avatar

Who did Obama put in to run NASA?

robmandu's avatar

Ah, I see your point, @Qingu.

I don’t see this as a Republican-only problem. It’s endemic to the nature of politics where lobbying, favor, and personal vendetta are de rigeur.

Besides, in light of your comment in reference to the Secretary of Defense position, I’m sure you recall that the ultimate Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces is currently a liberal community activist with no military experience whatsoever. That’s the nature of our representative republic form of democracy.

bkcunningham's avatar

Who would that be, @robmandu? The ultimate Commander in Chief of the US armed forces?

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, he put in Charles F. Bolden to run Nasa—an astronaut.

@robmandu, I’m not sure what you’re arguing. The president is a civilian commander. It’s ludicruous to expect the president to have expertise in the subject area of every single agency run by the executive branch. That is why we have agencies. The purpose of angecies and department heads is to provide expertise and judgement to the ultimate decision-maker. Which is why you generally want to appoint people with expertise and sound judgment to those positions, as opposed to your illiterate cronies.

robmandu's avatar

@Qingu, again, I see your point.

All I’m saying the same point can be made for any sufficiently high position. The current CEO of Hewlett-Packard, for example, doesn’t have first-hand experience working in the high-tech manufacturing business.

It’s just that that’s the kind of “excuse” that political operatives make for their incompetence in their “failed” assignments.

Let me ask it this way: if you’re the POTUS and you’re vehemently opposed to the Federal Department of Homeland Puppy Kicking, are you going to go out and draft Michael Vick to run it? Or will you try to find someone you trust to shut it down, either outright or through incompetence?

Qingu's avatar

@robmandu, I think your question is too hyperbolic to answer in a relevant way. I understand that there are federal agencies that presidential candidates want to reform, or don’t want to exist. I think it is childish and immoral to go about this goal by appointing nincompoops to run them.

Again, let’s look at FEMA. Republicans don’t like FEMA, I get it. It’s a big federal agency, Republicans don’t like it when feds tell locals what to do. But Jesus Christ, you should still appoint an expert in emergency management to run the fucking organization. If you want to limit its powers, limit its powers by executive instruction. Don’t deliberately cripple its ability to function in any sense by appointing a political operative with no emergency management experience. Likewise, if you want to ignore what NASA scientists say about the big bang, ignore what they say about the big bang. Don’t appoint some 28-year old non-college-graduate dipshit as Head Censor of NASA to cast public doubt on accepted scientific models.

Sorry, but I get worked up about the Bush Administration. I forgot how surreal and malicious it was.

robmandu's avatar

I don’t disagree with your specific examples.

But – and back to the point of this discussion – childish and immoral does indeed sound much like politics in general… and not merely the Republican party. It doesn’t much matter the level of office or political stripe, crazy drama exists everywhere in politics.

Let me clarify:

It is wrong for politicians to wield their power to pursue their own goals, and not those of the people they represent who voted them into office. Waste, deception, incompetence, and negligence must be sought out and eradicated at all levels. There’s no excuse for any of it.

But starting a witch hunt to focus on the Republican party alone and citing aging examples of presidential administrations of yore is not helpful to the dialogue of today. Let’s look forward and work together to fix the problems we have.

Qingu's avatar

@robmandu, sorry, but the parties are not equal in this and other aspects.

I think it’s the easiest thing in the world to sit on top of a fence and curse both houses. But look at Obama’s appointees. He hasn’t appointed anyone to an agency who isn’t an expert. Look at Obama’s record on bipartisanship. You’ve said “let’s work together,” well, Obama has tried, time and again, often enraging his liberal supporters and engendering a constant accusation of naivite. The Republicans reflexively reject anything that comes from the Obama administration in ways far beyond anything the Dems did with Bush.

It’s not a “witch hunt” to point out the fact that one side is worse than the other. Some times—most times, actually—two sides of an argument are not equally valid. Pretending that they are, and pretending to be above the fray, is really just lazy.

robmandu's avatar

Yeah, when it comes to politics, I am lazy. And disillusioned. And disenfranchised.

Tell me, @Qingu, how are you employing your industrious and infallible intellect to defeat the unique threat posed by the GOP? Inspire us, please, and explain how you’re leading the charge to battle those wicked, evil, stone-hearted, and manipulative Republicans. Are you mounting your own campaign? Or perhaps a grass-roots effort of like-minded civil champions? Where can we donate our time, our money, our very lives to help you with your cause to stamp out their wicked tyranny?

Qingu's avatar

Whelp. I campaigned for Obama last election, I’ll probably do it again this election. Is that what you mean?

And what do you mean “disenfranchised”? Are you not able to vote?

robmandu's avatar

Disenfranchise, in its broadest sense, can be meant to marginalize or otherwise reduce influence. Probably a poor word choice in this case as we are talking politics in particular, so its meaning regarding loss of voting rights would be the expected use.

Qingu's avatar

Why do you think you have less influence than the median global citizen?

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu It’s times like these that I favor the absolutist approach to wrongdoing: quantity and degree of the offenses mean little; both sides have dirty hands. I think @robmandu is comparing a serial killer with a mall-bomber.

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