Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I Consider Myself a Moderate

In future posts I will (happily) describe the reasons I don't align myself with either major party, it seems logical to first discuss why I consider myself a Moderate voter.  In previous posts, I've compared being a Moderate to the terms Libertarian Light, and Diet Libertarianism, and that is generally what I view Moderate politics as.

While Libertarians tend to fall on the far right on fiscal/economics, and far left on social issues, Moderates land on the same side, in my view, just not nearly as far on each side.  I've come across these descriptions in the past from other writers, though I did come up with the terms on my own.

This might be oversimplifying things to the point of approaching inaccuracy, because there are plenty of voters who might fall slightly to one side for both types of issues, or may be leftish on fiscal but rightish on social issues.  Unlikely, but still possible... these voters might be called Diet Populists.

I've also stated before that trying to create a Moderate party, with a distinct, agreed-upon platform, would be incredibly difficult because the field of Moderates, Undecideds, and Decline-to-State voters is simply to big and diverse to even attempt to put under a single tent.

As stated, I generally find myself on landing on the right of center on government fiscal and economic issues, and on the left of center on social issues.  I believe we should have a small federal government, but one that still is able to protects civil rights and the interests of individuals.  I emphatically believe we should avoid deficit spending at nearly all costs.  The federal government should provide for our national defense, protect individual civil rights, offer guidance and direction on domestic policy -- and perhaps some funding, too, when its available -- but little more.

I think taxes should be simple, and generally low, but simply because we should be raising only enough revenue to cover our budget, which ideally is a fraction of what it is today.  That our tax system is hyperbolically complex, convoluted and unfair is of little disagreement, but Congress simply doesn't have the will to do anything about it.  I honestly ask the questions -- what is wrong with everyone pays 10 or 12 percent, with no deductions??

I happen to support a hybrid flat-tax, negative income tax system, where there is a relatively flat tax -- perhaps a two-tiered system I would be agreeable with -- with relatively few, in any deduction opportunities, but below a certain level of income any taxes paid during the year are returned plus an income augmentation.  A future blog will cover this issue in more depth.

On domestic issues, I think DOMA and immigration reform are sanctioned bigotry.  I truly believe if it were 12 million light-skinned Canadians coming over the border to mow our lawns, harvest our crops, clean our hotel rooms and be maidservants to the wealthy, nobody would have a problem with illegal immigration.  And people should be allowed to marry whomever they want.

I think a woman's body is her own business, and while I abhor the thought that abortions occur, we should be enacting policy to discourage, not outlaw, abortion.  For me personally, I have a problem that any abortions occur, and I can't offer a rational, philosophical reason -- I can only say that's what my gut tells me.  But as one individual voter I do no have the right to tell someone what she can or can't do with her own body.  I do, however, think that medications like RU-486 and the morning after pill should be available.  Critics and opponents will likely want to engage in a "when does life begin" debate, I'll save that issue for long down the road.

I believe the Bill of Rights should be interpreted equally, meaning freedom of speech and religion should be interpreted as loosely as the right to bear arms.  I think a future blog will address who gun rights advocates ignore the first half of the Second Amendment, but either way its there, so we should respect it.

The same holds for freedom of religion -- that means citizens have the right to worship God, or any deity they choose, as long as they don't infringe on anyone else's right to worship.  That also holds for using religion as a basis for policy.  "Because the Bible says so..." isn't good enough for me.  If you choose to life your life based on the Bible's teachings, or the teachings of Jesus Christ, you have that right to do so.  But you don't have the right to force anyone else to live strictly by those teachings.  A future blog will deal with this issue, as well.

So there you have it.  Republicans say I'm too liberal, Liberals say I'm too conservative, Libertarians say I'm too moderate, and Moderates -- well, Moderates don't really talk to each other much... yet.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Love Primary Elections

Friends on mine on Facebook know that I've been beating up more on the Republican party lately, but only because the primary elections were so very entertaining to me.  I couldn't help but notice that nearly every Republican presidential primary candidate -- with the exception of the eventual winner, had said publicly that God had told them to run.  I guess God likes lively primaries, with numerous debates and all the fun and rhetoric that go with them.

I love primary elections, too.  I've always so amazed not only at how ugly they get, but how the media covers the vitriol  -- as if its news!  As if the 2008 primaries were gentle, civil, and intellectual.  Or the 2000 primaries... or the 2004 Democratic primary... or the 1996 Republican primary... or the 1992 Democratic primaries... or the 1988 primaries -- and these are only since I started paying attention upon turning voting age.

Primaries always get ugly, and then at the convention all is miraculously forgiven and support congeals around the candidate in the general election.  That's what will happen this year, too.  That the media is covering this election like it's 1800 or 1824 entertains me... I can only conclude the political media in this country has little, if any, understanding of American history, and even less memory of recent elections.

In Tampa this August, all Republicans will get behind Mitt Romney -- denying me the brokered convention I was hoping for this year.  Afterwards, be prepared for a presidential general election that potentially will rival those of 1800 and 1824.  For those few readers whose history is a little hazy, the 1800 election between Adams and Jefferson was made contentious through the use of surrogates, one James Callender in particular.  Jefferson had hired Callender to print mud against Adams, but after a fallout turned his ink on Jefferson -- that was when the first allegations of Jefferson and Sally Hemings first were made.

The 1824 race between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson is considered next in the ugly category.  This time it was Jackson's wife, a divorcee, who was the first target.  Jackson was certainly not one to back down from a fight, and so it went.

Romney's tactics -- use advertising to make the deepest cuts into his opponents -- will come out in full force, and he will have the financial resources to do it.  He not only has raised capital to levels that would offend most voters, he will now have the financial backing of all the other wealthy financiers previously supporting his primary opponents.  Be ready for a lot, A L-O-T, of mud being slung on the TV and radio.  I'm sure you may even see it in movie theaters.

And President Obama will not sit back.  He has shown from 2008 his campaign can raise equally offensive amounts of money, and he obviously knows how to win elections.  He personally will take the high road, as will Romney, in person, but his ads will be just as dirty.  And the use of surrogates will continue, potentially making this election one for the history books.

I don't shout this with glee.  I lament this.  For as much as our political system, and our Constitution, is the envy of the world, our elections have evolved little at all in tone.  Our dialogue, discourse, and debate should be the envy of the world, as well.  Not just between our candidates, but between us voters, too.  We should be able to discuss issues, respectfully, open-mindedly, inquisitively.  I've never, ever heard any Republican or Democrat utter the words, "okay, fair point."  It's always, "Oh yeah!? Well what about (insert the name of the other party here)?!?!"

Our candidates should get together, in public, without a moderator, and each get, say 5 minutes, to speak and rebut, going back and forth, similar to the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.  But I don't think that makes for good television, so the networks will have none of it.

The only difference between 1800 and 2012 is the technology -- the hateful tone will be equal, if not more so.  But it's our own fault, the voters.  If mud-slinging didn't work, candidates wouldn't use it.  But they do, because it does... oh so well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Introduction to Moderate Politics

The title of this blog refers more to my introduction to what being a moderate voter is about, and not in any way should imply that I have any room to lecture anyone else.  Having considered myself a moderate, or independent, or decline-to-state, voter for a few years now, my intent on this page is to explore -- along with anyone else who might be interested in joining along in the journey, however few, if any, there may be -- what it means to be a Moderate voter in California and the United States.

I'm a firm believer in the marketplace of ideas, where we may toss out our opinions to be assessed and criticized by any others participating in the marketplace.  In the marketplace of ideas, we have the freedom to toss out ideas for consideration by others, for those to respond who wish to, as is their right.  That response may be in the form of thoughtful inquiry, harsh critique, name-calling, or a response somewhere in between or outside of those examples.  If I am critiqued, criticized, or even condemned for opinions I bring to this marketplace, well… that’s how it goes.  It is unfortunate that the ideas marketplace has such incivility, but I choose not to let that fact keep me from entering.  Free speech, guaranteed us in the First Amendment, not only includes my right to express an opinion, but others’ right criticize my opinion, and my right to criticize theirs.

Comment, critique, criticize, but don't be an ass.  There're enough of them in American politics already.  I'm leaning toward the conclusion that most politicians, and political commentators, are really narcissists anyway, able to feed not only on the praise of sycophantic party members, but also on the harsh criticisms of political opponents.  Rush Limbaugh is an excellent example of that point.

We need honest, considered, rational dialogue, not taglines, talking points, and BS.  Discourse is not debate.   If one is looking for a debate, or simply to spew out some existing party line propaganda, please move on to the next blog.

So what is it to be a Moderate?  First, I think its important to understand that terms like Moderate, Independent, Undecided, etc., are not synonymous.  Not all moderates are independents, nor would all undecideds necessarily consider themselves moderates, and all the way around.  The Venn diagram might be heavily overlapping circles, but still distinct groups.  For the sake of simplicity, however, I will generally refer to these groups as the middle.

And within each circle are a myriad of viewpoints, hence the name of this blog.  It seems to be, particularly in California politics, but also nationally, that each party is leaning toward its own extreme.  Bad for those parties, but good for all of us in the middle.

I wager that both parties privately like to label Moderates as fence-sitters, indecisive, wishy-washy... you get the point.  I couldn't disagree more.  The Moderates I know and discuss issues with are clearly focused in their perspective, and are very firm in their beliefs, even passionate.  We just aren't tied to any particular policy idea based on ideology, dogma, or party platform.  Voters in the middle tend to arrive at policy ideas based practical, pragmatic analysis.  "Independent" applies also to our thought process, not just our policy conclusions.

Publicly, both sides, especially the presidential candidates, understand they need the middle voters and will be attempting in the coming weeks and months to pander to us.  This will be interesting to witness, and I'm sure I will have much more to say as these campaigns proceed.

Moderate voters generally tend to fall slightly to the right on fiscal and economic issues, and slightly to the left on social issues.  I personally like to call it Diet Libertarianism, or Libertarianism Light.  Having already annoyed those on the Left and Right, why not piss off the Libs, right??  Working on the assumption that Libertarians generally fall on the far right on fiscal/economic issues, and the far left on social issues, this logic makes sense to me.  I understand I'm painting with a very broad brush, but I don't think there will be too much disagreement, except possibly from the hair-splitters.

In future posts, I will be elaborating on specific policy issues, focusing more the policy ideas I have, why both major parties don't agree, and less on why middle voters might agree.  It would be nearly impossible to try to clarify what a Moderate Party platform might look like, because between red and blue, there are at least a million shades of purple.