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THE LAND O' LEDLEY
L. David Wheeler's Live Journal, The World's Most Boring Blog
LDW'S APOLITICAL POLITICAL CREDO, PART THE FIRST 
20th-Feb-2012 02:33 am
ShaveDave, jar
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.
I don't 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 an employer.

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 Yancey
Sounds & Images: Castaways and Cutouts -- The Decemberists
State O'Mind: Reflective
Comments 
20th-Feb-2012 08:23 am (UTC)
You are obviously a danger to society. You think for yourself. That is no longer allowed. You will have to stop, now.
20th-Feb-2012 10:47 am (UTC)
Interesting to read. You are not easy to categorize - I like that quality in my friends :).
20th-Feb-2012 12:38 pm (UTC)
"I mistrust both the public and the private sector, in roughly equal amounts."

I like that. There's a news site I frequent where my biographical notes contain the line, "I tend to trust people...until they form into groups." It's possibly based on a similar feeling.

I also have your item #10 strongly in mind when politicians talk. It's only a little over a decade since people died in an Ontario town from contaminated water, a situation that was partly attributed to reduced inspection.
20th-Feb-2012 01:37 pm (UTC) - #5
when people complain about "activist judiciary,"

Whenever I hear complaint's like this I want to ask the person who said it, "What is the role of the judiciary?"

According to my 8th grade Social Studies course, the roles of the 3 branches of government are:

Legislature: Write the laws
Executive: Enforce the laws
Judiciary: Interpret the laws
22nd-Feb-2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
Here is what I hope is an objective question for you. In view of #3, what do you think of Rick Santorum in general, and specifically, of his stated opinion that "liberal Christians" who do not interpret every word of the Bible literally are not really Christians.

My reference is this, from facebookland:

"In a 2008 interview with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life, Rick Santorum was asked this:

QUESTION: What would your opinion be of this stance: Obama has been very honest in the past about his faith. He said he was attracted to the church because of its non-literal approach to the Bible......... So in that case he is a sincere liberal Christian. Would you buy that?"

His reply: I could buy that. Again, yes, it goes to the larger question of whether I could buy that overall from that point of view. But is there such thing as a sincere liberal Christian, which says that we basically take this document and re-write it ourselves? Is that really Christian? That’s a bigger question for me. And the answer is, no, it’s not. I don’t think there is such a thing. To take what is plainly written and say that I don’t agree with that, therefore, I don’t have to pay attention to it, means you’re not what you say you are. You’re a liberal something, but you’re not a Christian. That’s sort of how I look at it."

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbRqWPQ5-3k&feature=player_embedded
23rd-Feb-2012 12:22 am (UTC)
Santorum in general, I don't think much of. I find the impulse to codify one's own religious beliefs as the law of a pluralistic nation to be dangerous, no matter what the religion.

As for his most recent remarks, he makes the same error (whether deliberately or non) that many people do of conflating "non-literal approach to the Bible" with "take this document and re-write it ourselves" or "take what is plainly written and say that I don't agree with that."

I'm certain that in Santorum's eyes, I'm not really a Christian. I have no problem with a metaphorical or figurative interpretation of the creation passage, for instance. I think one needs to do a lot of investigation into the prevailing cultural mores of the period when interpreting what Paul was intending in his letters to 1st-century churches, for another.

And it's hardly a matter of, as Santorum blithely puts it, "I don't agree with that, therefore, I don't have to pay attention to it." It's more like: Is this particular element in agreement with the main thrust of Christ's teachings? If not, then maybe, just maybe, one needs to give one's interpretation a second thought.

And it doesn't take any cynicism -- just observation -- to note that most of these folks who go on at length about how they interpret the Bible completely literally, literally literally ... suddenly seem to turn off the "literal" lens when they come across passages where, for instance, Jesus says to sell your stuff and give it to the poor. Or that wealth is a giant hindrance to entering the kingdom of God -- easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom, Jesus put it once. I don't see Santorum or any other alleged "literalists" lining up to follow that ... even though it's "what is plainly written."

Of the Four Horsemen running on the GOP line (not counting Gary Johnson) ... Santorum may be the one who, on a superficial level, I may have most in common with -- but digging deeper, he's actually the one I regard and respect the least, the one I regard as most potentially dangerous with presidential power. And that's in a field with Newt Gingrich in it.
23rd-Feb-2012 02:05 am (UTC)
We have more in common than a Christian and an Atheist have any right to.

I know there's at least one congregation of Jewish atheists, which seems completely contradictory and wrong, to me. Which causes me to wonder if there's a church anywhere for Christian atheists - or would that be a segment of the Unitarians? I wonder what Frothy the Slowman would think of Christian Atheism. Would his head explode?
24th-Feb-2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
I've looked at trust from both sides now,
Public and private; still, somehow
I'd rather go a-filking now,
I don't trust either one at all.

:)
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