Tacitus has an interesting piece on why he is not a Democrat.
He raises a number of good points, from the weakness of the Democratic Party on national defense to their attempts to diminish the role of religion in public life. The biggest one for me is that the Democratic Party and liberal activism in general goes against the very founding doctrines of this country. The Constitution was written with a very specific purpose: to limit the power of the federal government.
Yet liberalism demands an increasingly activist government. Liberalism is based on the concept that the best, if not the only, method for solving societal problems is government. While certainly government has a role in public life, that role was designed by the Founders to be minimal. There was a good reason why the Founders would abhor the kind of activist government we have now: because they knew that an activist government is much more likely to fall into tyranny. Not only the kind of tyranny that we would associate with fascism, but the more invidious tyranny of a system that denies the people the right to personal autonomy.
But what of the poor, the downtrodden, and the indigent? Shouldn’t the government have a role in lifting them up?
The answer to that is only as much as is absolutely necessary. Government is the wrong tool for the job. It may have resources, but it is notorious for being unaccountable and unconcerned with results. After thirty years of LBJ’s "War on Poverty" it would appear that poverty had largely won. If the solution to poverty was as simple as more government handouts, poverty would have been vanquished a long time ago. Instead of helping people in dire situations, government programs often only exacerbate their problems.
As Dinesh D’Souza once astutely noted, liberalism often fails to meet liberal ends. Government programs for the poor ended up creating a culture of entitlement that eroded the very values of hard work that are necessary to truly fight poverty. While soaking the rich to pay for these programs helped assuage the guilt of liberals, the people that were supposed to benefit from these programs received little benefit from them. Without accountability and instilling the values of hard work and self-determination, government programs are an anchor rather than helping hand.
Yet liberalism would argue that we need more of the same. They argue that the problem isn’t that these programs don’t work, it’s that they don’t have enough money. Liberals fought welfare reform tooth-and-nail, despite the fact that it helped break that cycle of dependency. Liberals continue to argue for more and more government intervention in every aspect of private life, despite the fact that government is inefficient at best and incompetent at worst.