I sometimes get emails or phone calls asking me to take polls, and I always struggle with the question, “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” And while I have never voted for a Republican, and find it hard to imagine ever voting for one, I don’t consider myself a Democrat.
“How can this be?” you might ask. (Or you would if anyone was reading this blog!)
Well, partly it’s the excesses of what the parties “stand for.” The Democrats are not so much a party any more as a collection of special interests all at war for what they can get. Labor. Minorities. Latte-sipping left wingers. Gays and lesbians. Anti-war folks. Farmers. Not that I don’t support some of those causes (personally, I prefer mochas to lattes); but it doesn’t seem to be a party of “what unites us,” but rather a party of “What’s in it for me?” And I just can’t get behind it.
Not to mention that when they’re in charge, they seem so friggin’ incompetent. Look at them now; they’re in the majority, and they’re still the gang who can’t shoot straight. Somehow the Republicans are stopping them with filibusters, and it’s the Democrats who are being accused of obstructionism! That’s lame. I should be a part of a party that’s that lame?
Obvious proviso and caveat: all Democrats are not like that; we’re speaking in broad generalities here.
The Republicans, in my view, are even worse. They’re only a party of “What’s in it for me.” Even more, they’re spectacular hypocrites. They’re all for federalism . . . except when it serves they’re own best interests (e.g., Bush v. Gore). They’re all for “staying out of your personal life” . . . except that they want to go into your bedroom and tell you how to run your personal sex life, and tell you what you can watch on your TV (including which swear words you can and can’t hear), and tell you what books your children can and can’t read at school, and so on. They’re for a strong national defense . . . so long as they don’t actually have to be the ones to suit up and go overseas and fight.
(And even worse, in my book, all the moral stuff they try to shove down our throats, they do “for the children,” when what they’re really doing is a clear attempt to force their religious values on everyone else. But by the cynical ploy of hiding behind “the children,” they can make it seem noble.)
And finally, they come across as just plain mean. “I don’t care about what happens to other people so long as I get my tax cuts.” “I don’t care what happens to other people so long as my programs are put through congress.” “I don’t care what happens to the 12 million immigrants and their children who are already here; I just want them gone.” Etc. The level of plain old meanness behind some of the things the spokespeople for the Republicans espouse is simply staggering. I can’t be a part of a party that is so doggone mean. (Think Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and their hate-spewing brethren.)
Again, we are speaking broadly here; not all Republicans are like this, of course.
Which brings us to the completely absurd and false dichotomy between “liberal” Democrats and “conservative” Republicans.
Today’s Republicans are not “conservative” by any stretch of the imagination. Anyone who supports the huge increase in government that is the Department of Homeland Security, that is the Medicare Drug Bill, is not a conservative. Anyone who supports the trampling on the Constitution that is warrantless wiretapping and the elimination of habeas corpus is not a conservative. (What can possibly be more conservative than habeas corpus? It goes back to the Magna Carta, for crying out loud!) Anyone who supports the economic policies of this Administration, which has spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave and run up debts that we can never replay, is definitely not a conservative. And anyone who supports the absurd theory that is the “unitary executive” is most certainly not a conservative. I have no doubt in my mind that if you got a single member of the Constitutional Convention, pulled him forward in time, and told him this theory, he would recoil in horror. They fought the Revolution to get rid of a King; the “unitary executive” gives you a king. It is a radical position, not a conservative one.
So like many Americans, there is really no party for me, I’m afraid. I support fiscal responsibility. (Supply-side economics doesn’t work. We’ve tried it in three different Presidential administrations now, and it’s been a disaster all three times. Isn’t that enough?) I support a strong national defense (but not one that’s ridiculously out of proportion to the threat that is posed by the rest of the world–how many aircraft carriers and submarines do you need to fight terrorists hiding in caves in Afghanistan?). I am socially liberal–I think gays should get married if they want, for example. (All you right-wingers bleating about gay marriage are being silly. How do gays getting married threaten your marriage? They certainly don’t threaten mine. And if gays get married, doesn’t that make society more stable? Your arguments are absurd.)
So am I conservative, or liberal? Neither. Both. It’s a false dichotomy. And the silly choice I have to make between the two parties doesn’t exactly make it easier. How about you?
It does rather read like random blather, even though the general direction of the thoughts is agreeable. Following your example, here is more blather.>>Let’s consider a few of your points.>>On the question of competence, I don’t think it’s a matter of liberal versus conservative, but of one adminstration versus another. Carter was incompetent. (Although he is doing a stellar job now.) Our current Bush is breath-takingly incompetent–Afghanistan, Iraq, New Orleans, No Child Left Behind, medical care for veterans, Social Security, you name it. (What has Bush done well?)>>On the matter of hypocrisy, it seems to me that voters who vote based on a narrow set of issues invite hypocritic politicians who will easily say “I am for what you are for”, while they are really not. The narrow issues may be those of the right (“right to life”, “protect marriage”, “government is the problem”, “stop the free-loaders”), and they may be those of the left (“no smoking”, “freedom of speech”, “protect the environment”, “ban trans-fats”).>>Nevertheless, it seems to be true that right-wing hypocrites far out-number the ones of the left, and that the scale of their hypocrisy is staggering.>>I feel that the current administration is neither conservative nor Republican. A good Southern friend said to me, “I didn’t leave the Republican party, it left me.” I think the ordinary Republican has had enough of Bush, Cheney, Rove, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and the rest of this gang of arrogant thugs, and that the Republican party is ready to go back to where it was before the Reagan era.>>We invite hypocrisy, incompetence, and arrogance when the electorate is either uninterested in politics (look at how many people do not vote in this country), or is driven by just one issue or another. It appears to me that in many countries where democracy is strong and politicians are under control, several things prevail: people are keenly interested in politics; they are interested in the good of society rather than in just their own well-being; and they regularly “throw the bastards out.” I’m hoping that will happen in 2008.