I've been meaning to write about this for a while now. But my dear brother Chris wrote to me today, saying that he had read my blog, and accused me of being a "left wing nut". Now, that was a nasty jab, but I looked through the entries I've made so far, and figured that one could easily draw that conclusion from the entries I've made to date. Except for the one entitled "Marriage, the Constitution, the Courts, and Congress". I don't think that you will find many people who identify themselves with the left agreeing with that one.
I thought back to a comment I made at Protein Wisdom
. I've searched for the comment unsuccessfully so far, but I'll post to it at some point if I can find it. Point is, someone followed up on my comment with something to the effect of "You liberal wing nut - you think that everything that conservatives say is wrong". Well, funny thing, I don't think so. I find myself strangely in alignment with many conservatives on many points. And guess what else? I find myself deeply at odds with the democratic party most of the time. So, what am I?
Well, let's see if we can figure this out together. Presidential votes I recall casting (both Primary and general election):
Bill Clinton - Democrat
Ross Perot - Independent?
John McCain - Republican
Michael Badnarick - Libertarian
If we are going to say that Dems are liberal and Repubs are conservative, then this voting record doesn't help us any, I don't think. For simplicity, let's just say that "Democrat", "Liberal", and "Left" are all synonyms, and "Republican", "Conservative", and "Right" are also synonyms. I'm open to hear your arguments if you think that this is completely wrong. But I'll use the terms interchangeably here.
So what's next? Other votes I've cast? Most recent election in Texas included several constitutional amendments. The most interesting on the question of liberal or conservative would be the Proposition 2, banning gay marriage. You can find the specifics http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/2005novconsamend.shtml. I voted in favor of banning gay marriage. One point in the conservative column. I should put in a little caveat here. I was reluctant to support this amendment, because I think that laws belong in the legislature, not in the constitution. If this were an amendment to the U.S. constitution, I would have voted against it, but voted in favour of LAWS that define marriage. You can read more about my thoughts on that subject in the previous posting noted above.
Score so far: Conservative 1, Liberal 0
Good, contentious issue coming up next, one that will clearly determine whether I am a conservative or a liberal: Abortion. I'm Pro-life. I'm anti-abortion. I'm against a woman's right to choose. How's that? Pretty politically correct of me, eh? Oh, let me go one more: I think that abortion is murder. I think that counts as at least two points in the conservative column. But I'll only take one.
Score: Conservative 2, Liberal 0
Just to be clear - I think that the abortion issue, like the marriage issue, belongs in the legislature, not in the courts. While I do not support abortion rights, I do not support the Supreme Court ruling on it either way. There is no reasonable argument that the constitution supports or denies any such right, and the legislature has every right (and responsibility) to make laws regarding abortion. I would favour the laws prohibiting it. Keep in mind that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." (Bill of Rights / 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America).
You want to hear just how liberal I am? I don't think that women should work. What do you think of that? Now I've really pissed some people off. Me, a liberal, and I don't think women should work. Maybe I'll write more about this later, but I'll give you the brief explanation here. Families are the most important institutions in our society. In order to have a family function as a family should, you need to have a mother home to raise the kids. YIKES! Can you believe that I even said this? I am definitely a wing-nut, but I'm having trouble with the "left wing nut" label here. Now that said, I'll show you a little bit of the wishy-washy, flip-flopper side of me. I think it is okay if it is the dad that stays home with the kids instead of the mom. Hmm. Sounds a little non-traditional. Perhaps I'm a leftist after all. I think that the best situation is where the mom takes care of the house, the dad takes care of making sure that the material needs are met. But there are degrees, and I am not so naive as to suppose that all kids will wind up as drug addicts in a ditch if the family doesn't run this way. The most important bit is that both parents are deeply committed to one another and their children.
For the record, I have some economic arguments against women working as well, but I'm not going to go into them here.
So while I'm showing a little wishy-washiness here, I think one would be hard pressed not to say that it is a conservative position that I hold in saying that women should not work, but should instead stay home caring for their kids. I think this has to score another point in the conservative column.
Score: Conservative 3, Liberal 0
Hey, another sensitive topic - I think women should not be in the military. Why? Well, for the reason above. What happens when parents are sent off to war and killed, and they leave orphans behind? Shouldn't happen, and it wouldn't happen on my watch.
Score: Conservative 4, Liberal 0
Which column does this go in? I think I would like to see required military/civil service for all American men. I'm not sure exactly how I would structure it, and I'm certainly open to hearing why I'm right or wrong on this. Generally speaking, I think all men should be required to serve two years either in the military or civil service after high school. Wait - I'm not letting you get out of this by dropping out of school after eighth grade. Service is required within two years of leaving primary or secondary school, and BEFORE entering college. Maybe I've got the details wrong here, but something to this effect. I think that this would have the benefit of helping to unify a very large country. It is amazing to me how different regions of this country really are different. There are a lot of people in this country who don't have the slightest clue how or why people think differently in different places. I heard an interesting argument that people in cities don't really need rifles, and often support weapons bans. People in the country have a lot more need for rifles, in some cases to defend their livestock, in some cases even to defend themselves against bears. You can take either side of that issue, but you have to admit that there are different needs in different areas, and legitimate reasons for differing opinions. Getting to know people from different parts of the country would help us understand the reasons, and perhaps help us use better judgment about our laws. Finally, this arrangement would ensure that a lot more people were in the military before they had families to deal with. It is tragic for either fathers or mothers to be at war when they have children at home. Will never be completely avoided, but I bet there would be a lot less of it if people knew that they were going to do two years of service after school. They'd do their service before they started their families. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I think that every American benefits from the country, every American should do something explicitly in service to their country. What about the women? Aren't they Americans? Ya, they're Americans. Their service to the country is waiting for the guys to get back from their military service. Hey, life is unfair.
Now one could call me a liberal for forcing everyone to do something in service of their country, one could call me a conservative for supporting the military, or for being so sexist as to say that this should apply only to men. I'll put it in the liberal column, just because it is losing so far.
Score: Conservative 4, Liberal 1
I'm in favour of a flat tax or a consumption tax to replace the graduated tax structure we have now. Actually, I would prefer to eliminate federal taxes completely, but I'll write more on that later. Generally speaking, I side neither with the conservatives nor the liberals on issues of taxes, but I'm closer to the conservative view. In practice, I side with the conservatives, so I'll have to put this one in the conservative column.
Score: Conservative 5, Liberal 1
I support the right to bear arms. I think that even the most "gun friendly" states still support unconstitutional restrictions of weapons.
Score: Conservative 6, Liberal 1
I believe that the constitution prohibits congress from passing laws that establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion. I don't see how that impacts towns that want to put Christmas displays in their town square, nor schools that want to have prayers at their commencement ceremony. Actually, I do see how it impacts those things. Seems to me that telling towns that they cannot have Christmas displays, or schools that they cannot have prayers is PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION. Explicitly unconstitutional.
Score: Conservative 7, Liberal 1
The right of the people to peaceably assemble is not well respected. You can decide on which column you like to put that in.
I believe that the Kelo decision
, allowing a city to use eminent domain to take private land for "economic development" is an abomination of all that this country stands for. A flat reading of the constitution does not necessarily prohibit it, but even the grounds on which the Supreme Court made this decision are absurd. Then again, that's true of most of the decisions that they make. Back to the abortion issue, the Roe v. Wade
decision is more of a lesson in world history than a decision on the constitutionality of a law. Go read it some time, if you've got the stomach for it.
Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 1
I believe that care of our planet is more important that economic development. I believe it is a sacred charge that we be stewards of this planet. I don't believe that when God gave man dominion over the earth that we were given the authority to plunder and defile the earth. I believe that God sent his Son to save mankind, because he loved us and would do anything for us. I assume that he had the same expectation of our stewardship of the earth - that we would care for it as His creation, and treat it as sacred. That there is economic advantage in drilling for oil in ANWR I have no doubt. That we should risk the damage to a pristine part of the earth for that economic advantage, I have serious reservations.
Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 2
On that note, I believe that this country should make every effort to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. This in itself doesn't put me in either category - used to be a liberal opinion, but becoming more embraced by the conservatives as well. But my reason for holding to this point is more in the liberal camp - global warming (I know, no such thing), and other forms of pollution. Truthfully, I don't even get why most conservatives don't agree with me on this point. I heard our esteemed conservative president say that we don't need to worry about reducing greenhouse gases because we will develop technology to deal with that problem. Um. If I went to a bank and said "Let me borrow one zillion dollars", the bank would request proof that I would be able to repay it. If I said "I'm going to figure out a way to repay it", they would tell me to take a hike. Aren't conservatives supposed to be the responsible ones? Aren't conservatives supposed to be the ones who demand data to support their points? The liberals are all artsy and don't care about the facts. But conservatives, do. It sounds like a really un-conservative mind set to me that would say "we'll figure it out in the future".
Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 3
Finally, I don't really care about economic growth. In fact, if anything, I'm against it. I think that the lust for money and stuff is ruining our humanity. The unquenchable need for something new to distract us from the fact that we are bored with the last thing we bought is not making us better people, it is not making us happier. The effort to release ourselves from the curse of being cast out of Eden is just like chasing our own tails. But in the end, it is just moving us further from Eden.
Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 4
What, you want me to count that last bit as two points in the liberal column? Okay. Keep in mind that the REASON that I don't believe in economic growth is somewhat religious in nature (Oooh, must be a republican), but it is still a pretty big sin to a conservative to not think that economic growth is important. I'll make it two points in the liberal column.
Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 5
Hey, let me add one thing more. I love the United States of America. I love what it stands for. I think that the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are two great, inspired documents. The Constitution itself defines a beautifully structured government, of, by, and for the people. Stand up and be heard, people. Call and write to your representatives at all levels of government. Run for an office yourself. VOTE. But vote only after you understand the issues. Don't vote for George Bush because you are a republican. Don't vote for John Kerry because you are a democrat.
Why do you think we have such lousy options for president? Because we, the people, are not active in our Government. Read the newspapers (more than one. And the National Enquirer doesn't count), listen to the news on the radio. Don't watch news on TV, it's a waste of time. Read the news online, and read Blogs to get some perspective and opinions on it. And stop the partisan bull-shit. Don't accuse everyone who disagrees with you of being evil, and everyone who agrees with you of being holy. We're all a bunch of self-centered asses, but most of us are making an honest effort at least some of the time to do what is right. The democrats want to tax and spend, not because they are evil, but because they believe that the redistribution of wealth thing is good. The Republicans believe in lower taxes and spending less (excuse me, Mr. President, did you hear about that?) not because they are evil, but because they believe it will stimulate the economy, and anyhow, people who earn money should keep it. Stop pretending that those who are on the other side of that argument are any more evil than those who are on your side. Have an honest dialogue, disagree where you will, and cast your vote how you will, and take part in the process.