Archive for November, 2008

My Republican Party

As early as last month, the Republican Party was two things to me; a party of God and “smaller goverment”.


God’s the easy one to see.  This is the party that dogmatically opposed one of the most promising areas of research for biology, limits the personal freedom for all women, and tries to redefine how people exist together due to an old book that more than half of the world thinks is nothing more than a bad novel.


“Smaller Government”, should mean (as reason.com likes to use as motto) free minds and markets.  Only that’s not the case.  “Smaller Government” to the Republican party is a tax rate of 36% as opposed to the ‘tax and spend’ eeeeeeevil Liberal’s rate of 39%.  They use subsidies as much as anyone else; pet pork projects are virulent in their party as well.  Defense spending skyrockets under Republican watch, meanwhile they cut taxes on the investment class to ‘spur the economy’.  And when they realize that they spend more than they have, they run up huge deficits.  …Small, eh?


The annual Republican Governor’s meeting was recently held in Miami, Florida, and the pundits and other political junkies (like myself) were all abuzz at what’s going to be different coming out of that meeting.  They postulate that the Republican party may change, grow in some sectors and shrink in others.  They may ‘modernize’ (without stating what that even means), change their platform and try to move forward with a different vision for America.


Only they won’t.  They can’t abandon the social issues; as backwater as they are, because of two things – If they finally decide it’s ridiculous to limit social freedoms, they’ll lose their base of Christian Conservatives who won’t come out to on election day, and the party will be spanked even more.  Plus, if they finally wizen up and realize what ‘smaller government’ really means, they’ll basically just turn into the Conservative Democrat Party.


And any further doubts that the Republican party may change can be dashed by looking at the recent gay-bashing ballot initiatives that were passed.  There’s the evidence that the Republican base is alive and well, and will stay home if the Republican party won’t pander to them.  That’s a whole bloc of ‘values voters’ looking to throw their morality around, and the Republican party will be experts at exploiting that.


But do you know what would be great?  If there was a party that said, ‘Hey, you live your life like you want, and I’ll do the same.  If we don’t kill one another, we won’t involve the Gub’ment’.  If there was a party that saw how amazing the American people are at solving their own problems, and how bad the Government was at it.  If there was a party that limited the role of Government in everyday lives, and took out the market influences – from both sides – that have caused the recent volatility.  If this Republican Party took the word ‘freedom’ to heart. 


My Republican party?  It would stop saying things like, “That’s what the founding fathers wanted”.  Do you want to know what the founding fathers wanted?  Jefferson, Madison, Washington, etc?  Do you want to know what they wanted for us?  To make up our damn minds.  To decide for ourselves what Government means, and to use the inspiration of limitless freedom as a framework.  Those men lived in a much different time than we do, and to harken back to a group of people over 200 years ago to use as the guidepost for what to do now is just lunacy.


What do we need now?  We need freedom.  My Republican Party would be the Freedom Party.  Freedom to do, live, speak, and be as American as I want, however I want.  My Republican Party would finally realize what ‘Limited Government’ means in the most amazing way.  And knowing what I know about politics; which I’ll grant you isn’t much, I know for a fact that My Republican Party is a fantasy.


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Libertarian Democrat

With the prospect of both a Democrat-controlled Congress and Whitehouse, an economy slowing down, a ballooning stimulus package, and cries of the death of capitalism, I’ve had some time to re-examine my political and sociological feelings and thoughts regarding the present.


I have some very Liberal friends and relatives who had a revelation last Tuesday night.  The skies parted and the promised land lay before them.  After enduring 8 years of Republican rule, they finally have a chance to seize control and set their own agenda.  I’ve had conversations about ‘universal healthcare’, ‘education reform’, ‘middle-class tax cuts’, etc.  They digest the sound bites read to them on television and echo them back, like children learning their first words.


And yet, when I bring up the counter-point of limited government, they immediately point to the disastrous government ideology that has lead this country for the previous 8 years -the most recent 2 have almost no differentiating characteristics from the first 6; almost as if the country is going into an uncontrolled slide and hasn’t lost the momentum.  They point to Bush’s administration, the Republican’s rallying cry of ‘smaller government’ and the magnificent cluster-fuck that has ensued.


Looking back at 8 years of Republican rule, it was the first time that the edicts of Reagan, the demi-god of the Republican Party, had a chance to play themselves out with no filter from their counterparts.  Trickle-down economics took effect with the “Bush Tax Cuts”, strong national defense came to the fore with not one, but two foreign wars, and the markets were set free to do as they will.


Only not so much.


When people hear the idea of limited-government, they immediately think I want their kids to no longer be educated, cigar-chomping corporate monsters to take over this country, and for everyone who doesn’t have a job to be left at the wayside to wallow in the dust of the ‘monied class’ as they watch their big screen televisions, pipe raw carbon dioxide into the air, and adorn their SUV’s with spotted owls.


Ironically, whenever you ask someone about their political leanings outside of an election year, a majority of people I’ve found have said (and bear in mind this is as unscientific of a study as it gets) that they are ‘socially liberal, fiscally conservative’.  Essentially, it’s do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t bother me, and hope the government has an accountant who can subtract as well as add.


The fact is, ‘limited government’ works both ways.  Not only do we remove the guys with guns from educating your children and feeding your grand/parents, but we take away the cronyism and favors of the upper class.  Tearing down regulations and government contracts will obviously remove the currency of favors from the halls of our supposed fair and transparent government.


Which brings us to the point of this post.  Last tuesday I looked down at my ballot at the name of a Democrat for president that I had selected to lead this country.  A man who stood up in front of a camera and admitted to ‘sharing the wealth’, someone who appointed advisors who embrace supply-side economics, and picked a veep who goes on and on about the middle class and riding the bus….while sitting next to his appointed security guards in his thousand-dollar suit.  And yet I voted for him.  I voted for a party who have gone on television and completely misrepresented what the concept of ‘free market capitalism’ represents.  And I was fine with that.


The Republican party has let me down.  Even when they harken back to Reagan, I still see fault with what he started.  Limit the government intervention into the markets – excellent, but that works both ways.  Not only in regulation, but in contracts.  If you have to subcontract to do something through the guys with guns, privatize it and be done with it.  Let me choose who should teach my kids and pave my roads.  Aggressive foreign policy; I’m sorry, did those countries elect you?  Did they all band together and with a unanimous voice cry out to you that you should destroy their infrastructure, turn their backyards into minefields, and politically and economically destabilize their entire society?


The fact is, over the past 8 years, we have seen what will happen with a party who spouts ‘limited government’ yet doesn’t follow through.  Guantanamo Bay is just a disgusting state of affairs.  Faith-based initiative – we’re subsidizing churches now?  I’m an atheist, and you just took my money and gave it to an organization who I have no support for whatsoever.  Money that I earned.  And what about the transparency in the government and having an enlightened citizenry?  Showing us everything and letting us decide?  Executive privilege (nevermind my issues with that in the first place) being passed onto advisors who Congress never approved the appointment of?  Politicizing the justice system?  Federally intervening on a poor woman’s health?  And they call this limited government. 


The fact is, the government has ballooned and festered under W and the Republican Congress’s watch.  It went from a party of fiscal responsibility and limited power (I’m not even sure of that anymore) to the party of God and Guns.  You can’t cry out smaller government and then develop and entirely new and unnecessary cabinet position.


I voted Democrat this past election because the Republican party is a disaster.  They need to take a deep breath and realize that disagreement is not cause for cries of heresy, but of consideration.  John McCain was the only man, I thought, who could actually do something meaningful with that party.  Someone with a record of moving past ideology and looking at the big picture.  Someone who wants to intelligently remove the web of government from the market.  Someone who shuns the religious fanaticism that gets so many of his peers elected.  Someone with the integrity to stand up and defend what he is saying.  Of course, that was 2002, it would have been nice to see him run for president.


I watched the party of limited government and federal responsibility do the opposite for the past 8 years.  So maybe the party of subsidies and supply-side will do the same for the next 8.  I’ll obviously never get what I want; a government as outlined in the Constitution with limited and minor adjustments, but at least I can have some fun in the meantime.


Besides, a 39% tax rate to a 36% tax rate is relatively minor when you throw it against the party that advocates torture and foreign aggression.

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