For more than 20 years now, I've called myself a political moderate. It's a term that's not all that helpfully descriptive, bespeaking little than an aversion to extremes in policy and approach. I've also called myself an independent, which suits me better, as an expression that my views can't be pigeonholed and sanded down to fit within the parameters of either of the two major U.S. parties -- that of the factors I bring into play when making an informed investigation and judgment prior to voting, political party affiliation isn't one of them. (Plus, as I posted several years ago, I've also stayed clear of political parties for a faith-based reason, as I've seen too many people of my faith who, from my perspective, seem more aligned to their politics than to the teachings they claim to cherish.) Besides, words like "conservative" and "liberal," as far as I'm concerned, have been leached of all meaning -- they say a lot more about the speaker's own stance than anything else. (My own paper has been called left-wing and right-wing -- at the same time. What does that prove? Absolutely nothing at all.)
Well and good -- and I'll probably remain independent, even though that effectively disenfranchises myself come primary time, at least in my state. But as the political dialogue gets louder, coarser, shriller and more ridiculous (with bombastic claims of "war on faith" and the like) ... and as now in the Facebook Era I see how many of my old high school classmates have moved rightward of me (or maybe they always were, and we never talked about politics; or maybe I've moved leftward) ... and as people in various circles in which I move think nothing of, say, unleashing all manner of anti-Obama invective casually, figuring that, well, pretty much everyone in the room must
agree with them ... and as each day brings a statement out of a candidate's mouth more jaw-droppingly outrageous than the day before ... I wonder whether I'm still that moderate. Politically, I don't really know what I am -- kind of a mutt, really.
1. I believe in capitalism, in the market, as a realistic and effective economic system in general
-- but I believe it requires good-faith effort to make it work, and that anybody who blithely says "the magic of the free market will fix XYZ" is living in a fantasy world not far off from their ideological archenemies who believe "the state will wither away." Sometimes economic benefits do
trickle down from a capitalist's success -- and sometimes they don't. Sometimes the capitalist doesn't invest in a domestic workforce, but creates jobs else-country where they're cheaper. Sometimes a company's success isn't invested into its workforce or its product, but in short-term sweetheart deals and packages for CEOs and the like (and sometimes to pay them off). And sometimes they're the only game in town, because they've either driven off all the competition or have colluded with them to create an unbreakable status quo that has the best interest of neither workforce nor customer in mind. Capitalism, the market, trickle-down theory, etc. can work -- but they require a careful, good-faith effort to MAKE it work on the part of the capitalist(s).
To put blind faith in "markets" as a magical cure-all for all economic ills is, in my view, simplistic.
2. My rightward friends tend to distrust governmental/public solutions, processes and motives while giving absolute trust to all private endeavors. Conversely, many of my more leftward friends tend to distrust business and rely on governmental solutions. I mistrust both
the public and
the private sector, in roughly equal amounts. I don't believe a random CEO or a random congressman have the best interest of an average American, whatever that means, at heart. (Yes, there are exceptions, which is why I said "random.") The one advantage the public sector has is that we have a degree of control over it that we exercise at the voting booth.
3. My faith (Christianity) is a driving force in my life. It has played a large role in the history of my nation. That said, the U.S. was not founded as a religious republic, and I don't believe the views and doctrines of any one religion -- including my own -- are to be the force that shapes public policy. (And there are plenty of differences about "views and doctrines" within any given religion -- some have sparked and continue to spark bloody sectarian wars.)
4. I also don't think that "government declining to treat my religion as the operative force in deciding policy" equates to "government DECLARING WAR ON MY RELIGION." The latter, of course, riles folks.
5. It's seemed to me that when people complain about "activist judiciary," they're simply complaining about judges who made a decision they don't like. (You never hear people making similar complaints when it's a ruling with which they agreed, note.) I get the concept that societal change ought to come through elected legislators rather than the judiciary -- but would also note that it hasn't been uncommon for legislators, entire legislatures to make decisions that violate the supreme law of the land as expressed in the U.S. Constitution. When that happens, it's the Court's job
to step in -- as a check and balance -- and say, "Actually, no. You can't do that." Or, on occasion when a case is brought before them, "You're in violation of the Constitution here (in letter or spirit) -- and have been for decades."
6. I have no problem with committed people of the same gender marrying. It doesn't cheapen or alter the institution of marriage at all in my opinion -- what, opening it up to more people, people who have demonstrated they value
it as an institution? The real "attack on marriage," in my opinion, comes from widespread divorce. (And yeah, sometimes divorce is necessary and for the best. By "widespread divorce," I refer to the whole picture of "marriage entered into casually/thoughtlessly/ignorantly.")
7. Referring back to #2
, I frequently don't care if a problem's proposed solution comes from the public or the private sector -- I just care if it works. On health care, I want to see a country where one's income level doesn't determine how healthy one can afford to be. Where people aren't ignoring minor symptoms because they can't afford to deal with them -- which means they stay in denial until it's too late to treat their terminal illness. Where sick people can concentrate on getting better
, not how they can possibly afford to get better -- or even remain alive
. And when people have said "ERs have to treat people anyway, so what's the problem," that ignores that A. someone's still got to pay for it; and B. ERs don't address preventative care, which is where life-threatening disease is best combatted. To put it bluntly, if one can't afford preventative care, one can't afford to be healthy. I want to see a system where a low-income worker has the same access to preventative care -- to the stuff that keeps us healthy -- as, say, a U.S. senator.
8. I believe the U.S. should support Israel, for several historical, moral and realpolitik reasons.
believe that "support" means "condone everything they've ever done, are doing or will do."
Sometimes "support" means "tough love."
This applies to other nations and scenarios, not just Israel.
9. I believe in a climate that's friendly to business -- but also friendly to labor. And that if paying workers a decent wage, in a nonhazardous work environment, is too arduous for an employer, maybe he/she shouldn't be
10. Deregulation sometimes sounds good in theory -- until you start asking people, OK, what do you want to deregulate? The regs that work to keep our air and potable water clean; our food free from contaminants; our factories free of child labor?
This has been just a rambling sampling -- I could go on for about 40 points, and will in future posts, in the expression and exploration of my particular political credo.
I suspect it's enough so far for some folks to decide, "He's one-a them dang lib'rals." That may even be true -- and will have to be good enough for now.Words: What Good Is God?
-- Philip YanceySounds & Images: Castaways and Cutouts
-- The DecemberistsState O'Mind: