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Why we can't think straight about government

E.J. Dionne Jr. on

Well, it's also true that some places get tornadoes and others don't. Some experience earthquakes and others don't. Some people live near rivers that overflow their banks and others don't.

Disaster relief is premised on an old-fashioned "there but for the grace of God go I" solidarity. We are happy to see government give a hand to our fellow citizens facing sudden catastrophe today and assume that they will help us if we face comparable challenges tomorrow.

This is why it is entirely appropriate to call out the hypocrisy of Texas conservatives who voted against assistance for the victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey but are now asking for federal help on behalf of their folks. They broke this basic rule of solidarity in the name of an ideology that, when the chips are down, they don't really believe in. Of course we should help all the areas devastated by Harvey. I'd just appreciate hearing our Texas conservative friends, beginning with Sen. Ted Cruz, admit they were wrong.

Call me a liberal (I won't mind) but I do believe in using government's taxing powers reasonably to direct help toward people who really need it, and in regulations to protect the environment and prevent catastrophe. But I also believe it is vital to stand firm when government officials violate constitutional rights, which is what Sheriff Arpaio was found to have done with Latinos in Arizona and why pardoning him is so dangerous.

We can certainly debate where government compassion becomes overreach. Unfortunately, we're not anywhere close to such a measured and civilized dialogue.

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E.J. Dionne's email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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