I am a Republican. I have been a Republican all my independently sentient life (born 1935, you decide when I became sentient). My parents were resident aliens (green-carders) from the British Empire (he Canadian, she English) – they intentionally didn’t involve themselves in US politics as they felt they had no right to unless they chose to take citizenship.
They tended toward the Democrats, as FDR was a hero to them for supporting Britain in WWII, but US politics weren’t dinner table conversation. I chose to be a Republican while in college in the fifties – a basic conservative attitude. But back then there was an overlap in the spectrum.
I am tired of listening to the right end of my party speaking of “real Republicans” as only the conservatives who pass all their litmus tests. In the sixties I would have been called a “Rockefeller Republican” or a “Progressive Republican” – but I voted for Goldwater in 1964. I am also tired of listening to the left end of the Democrat party using litmus tests for their candidates. Democracy is a bad system, Plato pointed that out – but democracy isn’t what we have. True democracy would be the system suggested by Ross Perot of having an electronic vote by the entire populace on each and every bill before the Congress – that would be a recipe for chaos, and no Congress would be needed. Ron Paul and the libertarians, and the anarchists of the left, would like that. But it is necessary for a bit of balance and compromise to have a viable government.
At the extreme, let us take a population divided into two uniform groups, each of which share all opinions among themselves and are diametrically opposed to the opinions of the other group. Let us make them 50.1% on one side and 49.9% the other. Stability of the nation would be impossible, a shift of a small percent in the population would make a radical change in the nature of the nation. My Jurisprudence professor in college likened the job of the Supreme Court versus popular opinion to the pendulum on an old clock. Popular opinion swings through the full range of the weight at the end of the pendulum, the Courts should follow popular opinion only to the extent that the root of that pendulum swings from side to side. Should the swing become permanent then it is time to review the Constitution.
What a wonderful document, the ability to change it legislatively is in it – the strictures are assignment of responsibilities rather than details (do you want a 500 page Constitution like the EU). There are things proposed as Constitutional amendments by both left and right – but they are themselves unconstitutional – the key to the Constitution is the clause that assigns to the several states all powers not assigned to the Federal government.
I have digressed, I started this as the personal manifesto of a Republican. I am liberal – in that I have an open mind, and that I subscribe to the Utopian goals of eliminating poverty and bringing a decent life to all. I am conservative – in that I believe those goals can be best attained with a free market capitalist society, and that I believe in “family values” (more on that in a moment). I am strongly conservative when it comes to international matters – I believe in the best defense being a good offense, but I’m also strongly liberal there – I’m all for negotiations and compromises in the internation arena where there is any chance that they will bear fruit. “Trust in God, but keep your powder dry”.
All in all I’m a “moderate Republican”, and I don’t like it that Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter would read me out of their party – I was a Republican before they were born! And for the other side, the denigration of Joe Lieberman by the left wing of the Democrats is equally anathema to me. His domestic policies I find far to “left” for me, but he is a man of principle whom I admire personally.
Where is the place, in this polarized environment, for those of us in the middle. A third party is not a solution, there are too many disagreements as to the methods for reaching that unattainable Utopia. Government dictat versus free markets, personal responsibility versus the “nanny state”. What is needed is a return to the two parties being more representative of the general population. May I refer you, if you have read this far, to my essay on the Shape of Politics in this same blog.
It was the great genious of the Constitution to balance the popular vote with the representation of interests (and being an interest is not a sin, whatever John Edwards says – neglecting his interest in tort lawyers, and their support of him). It has recently been pointed out by Ralph Edwards that our concept of democracy is inappropriate for many nations – as the “one man, one vote” will suppress minority tribal populations. But he left out that our own Constitution recognizes that. The bicameral legistature of the Senate and the House recognized the particular interests of the several States, and the democratic interest in “one man, one vote”. It remains applicable today in our representative democratic Republic. We are not called the United States for nothing. There have been objections to the Electoral College – and they come from either side “depending on whose ox is gored” in a particular election.
So why do we insist that other “democracies” follow the principle of “one man, one vote” when we don’t – and when we have been quite successful over the long haul by combining the “tribal” interests (the States) and the majority vote of the general populace? One size does not fit all, but the principle of the rights of all the people pertains. My cat (Lucky) is luckily not watching me type this – so I can say that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
The goal of all good men should be that all people should be able to rise to the level that they can, opportunity should never be suppressed. But there is a great divide in the way that can be accomplished – and my view is that general prosperity is best achieved through free markets and individual efforts. There will always be those who fall between the cracks (and I’m one of them), it is the responsibility of the “tribe” to address that.
Let me address primitive mankind. Many millenia ago there were cave paintings made, and musical instruments. Given that there was a lot of work to do just to feed the family/clan/tribe these would seem to be frivolous. We can see from burials of 50,000 years ago that some members of the clan could not have been productive, they had dehabilitating injuries that had healed long before death. The culture took care of their disabled, and perhaps they were the painters and musicians. A value to the clan despite their incapacity, or perhaps even just a love expressed for the weaker members of the family.
It doesn’t require a belief in a higher being to have a love of family – I’ll give to the religious right that it could be a commandment of God that we should take care of our own, but I’ll ask them to accept that it could be a natural evolution of our social hominid to do the same. It is a mystery of life that we are as we are, it is a mystery that I’ll accept as a mystery. I’ll not denigrate those who see it as the result of divine providence, nor those who see it as the result of natural selection. But I will object to those who denigrate the opposite view. Man is man, and there are good men and evil men – whether the evil are influenced by Satan or just bad seeds of the evolutionary process is of no concern to me. They both exist.
I am a Republican, I think my party (as a whole) has the best route for the future of our nation, and all the people within it. I think the Democratic party’s general view would be counter productive (kill the goose that lays the Golden Eggs), but I do not think that the Democrats (as a whole) are the radical left that the primaries suggest. I wish for the days when Dirkson and O’Neill would argue all day, then toss back a couple of drinks together afterwards.