Monday, July 23, 2012

Why I'm not a Republican/Democrat

At this point in the monologue it might be fitting to begin outlining my concerns with the two major parties, and why I'm not a member of either.  But first, a little history...

I turned voting age in 1985, and started fairly actively following politics at that point.  My father was very interested in politics at all levels, and in fact ran for city council in my hometown at one point.  He always instilled in me a respect for our Country, our Constitution, and the right to vote.  So the 1986 midterm elections were my first opportunity to participate in the process, and I did.

I originally registered as a Republican, as my dad was, and my research from my senior year government class led me to believe the Republican Party actually was the party of small government.  It made sense to me that we should try to maintain smaller, balanced federal budgets while keeping a focus on defense and national security.

Even then, however, I could see I didn't quite fit in.  I certainly was not the "pro-business, no matter the cost" that many R's seemed to be, and though I went to church and believed in God, it felt like a growing group of religious zealots were trying to force the entire nation to live by their beliefs, which in my mind is not what the Founders meant by "freedom of religion."

I remember during the Iran-Contra scandal thinking to myself -- after hearing in the news that President Reagan denied having a role, and all his minions confirming it -- "Come on! The President not only knew what was going on, but quite possibly initiated it."

I remember the 1988 presidential election because it was the first time I would be able to vote for a President, and it was also the first time I got exposed to the inflammatory rhetoric that so dominates our elections.  I distinctly remember two events: 1) Michael Dukakis riding in a tank looking as out of place as Dan Quayle at a NAACP convention, and 2) Governor Dukakis, when asked if he would support the death penalty in a case where a member of his family had been raped and murdered, the Governor responded, "Well, the first thing I would do is form a commission."

Are. You. F'n. Kidding. Me.  Form a commission... At this point I realized two things... First, I was going to be forever entertained following American politics, and second that I would never register as a Democrat.  So for the next couple of decades I would slide back and forth between Libertarian, Independent, and Decline-to-State.

I did enjoy and was even impressed with some of the dialogue of the 1992 Democratic primary.  The debates between Bill Clinton and Paul Tsongas were particularly enlightening.  That issues could be discussed intelligently and passionately in public, without the typical catchphrases, talking points, and taglines opened my eyes (a little) that politics didn't always have to be superficial in its discussion, or pandering in its rhetoric.  There was plenty of pandering going on that year, but on occasion there was worthy debate going on, and I appreciated that.

The 1992 general election persuaded me that politics can make even decent people resort to the typical tactics in order to be elected.  In the final days of the election, President Bush began using rhetoric that I though was below his status as an elder statesman, calling the Clinton/Gore ticket "Ozone," and saying things like "my dog Millie knows more about foreign policy than those two Bozo's."  Disappointing, particularly for someone who truly tried to maintain the stature and prestige that the position requires.  Then again, when someone like Lee Atwater is your campaign adviser, not much can or should be expected.

In the end, I realized neither party truly reflects what I see my Country to be, or have nearly the same goals as I do for the U.S.  If either party, no matter which, had their way, without the barrier of an opposition party holding them back, we would have continuous recession, sky-rocketing deficits and unemployment, and wealth concentration worse than Ancient Rome.  This is because neither party really cares, in my view, about the good of the country as a whole, and all the people in it.  They really only care about protecting and pandering to their base.

If Republicans had their way, the top 10% would pay no income taxes, we would be forced to live strictly by Mosaic Law, and unemployment would be in the 30% range, but on the bright side, in their view, immigration would likely drop to negative numbers, because people from other would know there is no more opportunity here than any other nation. Its also possible there would be a balanced budget because all social programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and especially all programs assisting the poor, would be eliminated.  Oh, and the defense budget would explode, too.  The days of the $700 toilet seat would look Libertarian compared to that.

If Democrats had their way, the top 10% would be inflicted with a 90% tax rate -- driving them to hide all income and assets offshore -- Keynes would be turning over in his grave at the gross misinterpretation policies, leading to record deficits, we would all be forced to wear hemp clothing, there would be permanent moratorium on new housing and development of any kind in the name of  habitat conservation, and job creation would be down to nothing because required union membership would make outsourcing to China even more appealing.

So in small, one twisted way, that both sides are so combative is actually a good thing.  but, as long as both parties continue lean even further in the direction of their extremes, as they have been doing for some, the middle will open up even wider, and the number of people who choose to vote from that perspective will continue to grow.

Up next, I will attempt to compare and contrast Moderates, Independents, and Swing Voters.  Thank you for staying with me... all three of you.