A Massachusetts newspaperman, a Republican, once recounted this boyhood memory for then-Governor Coolidge, during one of their conversations on Beacon Hill:
“When I was a boy in Springfield, another youngster met me on the street one day and asked me whether I was a Republican or a Democrat. I said I didn’t know and asked what difference it made. ‘Well,’ said the other boy, ‘if you are a Democrat you can march in our torchlight parade and come up to my father’s flag-raising and have some ice cream.’ I replied, ‘All right, I’m a Democrat.’ So you see,” the chagrined newspaper told Governor Coolidge, “I sold my first vote to the Democratic Party for a dish of ice cream.”
“Well,” Coolidge shrewdly replied, “you got more than some of the Democrats get” (Whiting, President Coolidge: A Contemporary Estimate, p.60).
Democrats making grand promises, benefiting a select few at the top, is not new; neither is buying support with those promises. Aptly did Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., JFK’s father, warn against what he coined “Santa Claus” government where the individual is held in “slavish dependence” to the state (Stoll, JFK, Conservative, p.10). The glue of that dependence is, as Coolidge underscores, the long history of unquestioned yet unfulfillable assurances made by Democrats. The problem this time is not that another Democrat has been caught making impossible guarantees to buy or keep votes. The problem now is that a President knowingly repeated a criminally fraudulent claim on which millions relied — a promise essential to the passage of a law that has destroyed the economy, taken over the health care industry, led directly to the cancellations of millions of people’s plans, driven up costs for everyone, forced competent doctors from the field, obligated not just 5% of the population but the entire country with trillions of dollars in generational debt, and secured his re-election thereby so that the controls assumed because of his promise can be cemented permanently into American life. After all, no government program ever goes away, regardless of the depth of its failure.
It illustrates that some habits never change. Democrats appealed to the lowest desires even then. We all want ice cream but are we prepared to pay what it is already costing each of us in the freedom to choose, the say over our own government, our morality, human dignity, and the realization of each person’s fullest potential, when left unshackled by government “help”?