Sunday, April 17, 2005

What Happened To Humanity?

I thought long and hard about sending the link to this blog to my Republican friends out of concern about offending them. After pondering it for a while, however, I realized that it is too easy to preach to the choir and it is always a good reality check to open up your thoughts to opposing views. So, I did so. One friend has already posted comments to some of my posts and I appreciate his input.

Another responded with a number of links to websites offering alternative opinions (which I read with great interest), including www.chomskywatch.blogspot.com and www.americanpartisan.com. The friend who sent the links, however, threw a curve ball at me that made me take a step back -- he told me he saw no point in debating with someone as far "left" as I am. Wow - when did I become part of the far left?

I grew up in a Republican family and was a devout Republican throughout college. Law school made me rethink my Republican leanings and I began to explore political philosophy. Soon after graduation, I stumbled upon Ayn Rand and, 10 books later, began leaning in the Libertarian direction. Now, a few years after devouring Rand's writings, I can't say that there is any political label that adequately sums up who I am. Indeed, I don't think that anyone can find one label that ever fully encompasses everything they believe. If they can, they are fundamentalists.

So, it got me pondering about the state of American political discourse. Left v. Right, Republican v. Democrat, Conservative v. Liberal, Us v. Them. When did it become so simplistic and how did I become the opposite of my Republican friend?

From what little I watch of corporate media, I get the impression the line divides as follows: Liberals are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, anti-gun, anti-death penalty, pro-environment and anti-war. In contrast, Republicans are pro-life, against gay marriage, pro-NRA, aren't concerned about endangered species and are pro-war.

Hmmmm.... does anyone fall neatly into either one? I believe abortion is murder, I think gay marriage is an oxymoron (although I don't see why civil unions should be objectionable), I am cool with guns, I am for the death penalty, I don't want people polluting the earth from which the water I drink is drawn and I believe in war only to the extent it is necessary to defend against a real threat (which Iraq was not). And, I am on the fence about affirmative action.

I bet there are "leftists" out there who would accuse me of being "conservative" based upon these attributes alone. However, I just don't understand why people obsess over the differences when the similarities are more important. A right wing and left wing person presumably are equally against polluting the environment and killing all that sustains us (that's why there aren't trash dumps in rich neighborhoods). The short-sightedness of outsourcing American jobs is not a matter that should divide the liberal from the conservative - each presumably cares about his job. Going to war on credit is something that should be of concern to anyone who would not let his or her spouse spend recklessly on credit at the expense of clothing and educating their children. Protecting the Constitution is something all Americans presumably care about - I have never heard of a Republican campaigning on his contempt for the Constitution.

In a time when the nation is so polarized, it is important to take a step back and think about the issues that really matter. I want to make sure that future generations have clean water to drink and an intact ozone layer. I don't want the Constitution to be a fiction that is discussed in history class. I want Americans to have jobs and to be paid a living wage. I don't want to live in a country where a handful have money and the rest are robbed of their pensions and left to scrounge without a safety net. And, I don't want the value of the dollars I earn to fall in value because the administration acts like a teenager with a credit card. Will America be better if gays can't marry but poor people are left starving on the streets?

It is not about right or left. It is about humanity.

7 Comments:

At 1:00 PM, April 18, 2005 , Anonymous sctrojan95 said...

I agree wholeheartedly ... I think we could explore the founding of a new political party, the Humanitarian Party. It's funny you should write about this topic. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a good friend who thought he was a true-blooded Republican. Then I pointed out to him that some of his strong opinions on various issues didn't fall into the "classic" Republican view. He was truly shocked ... and this from someone who is Ivy League educated. I, too, have found myself in this "hybrid" class. I used to think that I was a true Republican, then found myself as "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" ... now, I don't even think I can fall "neatly" into that description. I think that there are a lot more like us out there who share the same view(s).

However, I also believe that much of this can be attributed to the technology explosion, specifically, the increased access to knowledge (both by virtue of the media and the internet) and globalization (as more and more people are able to travel to different countries and learn about different people and different cultures). Knowledge breeds compassion, maybe?

It's odd though, as it seems that I only know Republicans who have become more "liberal". I really haven't run into any Democrats who have become more "conservative". Have you noticed the same thing?

 
At 2:37 PM, April 18, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I think the Republican party's tactic of becoming synonymous with the religious right has alienated many people. There are many Christians out there who disagree with the war, believe in the Constitution and civil liberties and do not believe in screwing the little guy in favor of corporations and they are trapped in the middle. There are many so-called "Republicans" who are fiscally conservative and, for that reason, don't agree that it is wise to run up the deficit without restraint of any kind.

 
At 4:56 PM, April 18, 2005 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

The problem is that most people don't have the intellectual capacity to make the distinctions you are able to make. The vast majority of people, be they Americans or Armenians, are followers, not leaders.

I think the Democrats should attempt to capture the more libertarian-minded people--people who don't believe the Bible should be our Constitution.

II, I'm surprised that you are pro-life, so to speak--so am I. You are more "conservative" than I would have imagined.

 
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