My Political Stance, Part Two: Uh, Forget Part One?

The whole point to my writing these entries on here is mostly theraputic. I have no grandiose delusions of actually being a notable blogger or embuing anyone with actual legitmate wisdom; rather, I want and need to practice writing and organizing my internal thoughts.

So that said, my last entry two months ago was really, really bad.

But that’s ok — it served its purpose to me at the time. My mistake was to try to approach my own disjointed lack of a political stance and try to outline what my political stance was, which proved to be an exercise in futility, first and foremost because I simply just didn’t know what I was talking about. I tried to approach a complex political science topic as a layman very much not versed in the political sciences.

So with no further adieu, I present to you:

My Political Stance (Revised!): Part Only: I’m Stuck (Spoiler!)

Here’s the deal guys — This is what I know I’m not at the moment:

I’m not a conservative. Change is the very spice of life. Being stuck in “the way things have always been” never ends well. Older is not superior to younger. I’m not going to literal hell for challenging old ideas. I do think traditions can be good and I do think tossing traditions and old established tidbits of wisdom out the window willy-nilly is certainly throwing the baby out with the bath water, but I don’t think that alone qualifies me as any kind of actual conservative. Above all, I am bothered by conservatism’s tendency to lean toward some flavor of authoritarianism.

I’m not a progressive. At least I don’t think I am? I don’t actually know what a progressive actually is. Seriously, not kidding here. It’s a topic that I find the more I research it, the less I think I actually get it. I do believe in equality for all, regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or whatever other sub-category of people you can think up. I admire plenty of progressive folks. I believe we’re better off embracing change and the future instead of planting our feet squarely in the past (and our heads in the sand), but I don’t think that necessarily makes me a progressive. Above all, I worry that progressivism might suffer an error of how more so than an error of what; I fear it may be short-sighted, unaware of possible authoritarian consequences of some of its mechanisms.

I still stand by my conclusion in Part 1 that I’m probably some flavor of classical liberal. I do fiercely believe in the freedom and autonomy of the individual. I am passionately anti-authoritarian; however, I also recognize some authority (ideally a bare minimum) guards us from a hazardous Wild West anarchy. For example, if you want to marry the same sex, two people, five people, the state of Virginia, or a cardboard cutout of President James A. Garfield, you should be free to have at it — just as long as you don’t pester me about it and allow me the same freedom to do my own thing. On the other hand, I worry about the long-term consequences of classical liberalism run a muck (or perhaps libertarianism) resulting in our society’s inability to ever achieve anything majorly significant while we’re wildly on entirely different pages. It took more than a handful of people to win the space race, after all.

So there you have it. I have no flipping clue what the heck I am because I have issues with literally everybody, apparently.

This is, in summation, why I more often than not refer to myself as a moderate or at most, a moderate somewhere on the liberal spectrum. I mostly want the government to stay out of our business, but protect our rights. Assist those in need, but not lord over us. Let us rule ourselves, but not to the point where we each individually wander off into an ironically collective oblivion. Rid society of the evils of prejudice, but not by forced homogeneity.

I do want to point out one very important detail here, though: note my stances outlined here have nothing to do with who I hate. I have been referring to ideas, not people.

I don’t feel I really have a place to fit in, here in today’s political climate.

My Political Stance: TL:DR Version (Part One)

Anytime I weigh in on politics on Facebook — which I try to keep to a minimum, as Facebook is hardly the medium for thoughtful discourse — I almost always tell people “I’m neither liberal  nor conservative” and/or “I’m a moderate”. That is partly true, at least best I can figure, but the breadth of my stance (and probably many folks’ stances) is far more nuanced. So, for anyone bored enough to be interested, here’s where I actually stand on all things politics. It’s long, complicated, and nuanced all over the place, so today’s entry will simply be Part One with more to follow.

(Disclaimer: My stances have evolved over time and likely will continue doing so as I become more educated in topics and learn to clean up my verbiage. This and related entries will either be updated or appended as time goes on, accordingly. Also, I’m totally am amateur on this topic and may not entirely know what I’m talking about.)

So today I’ll get the first obvious question out of the way:

Liberal or Conservative?

I’m both to varying degrees, but I lean more liberal. The problem is most Americans conflate liberal with Democrat and conservative with Republican, but that is not an apples-to-apples alignment.

I am a liberal in that I believe fiercely in the unalienable rights of the individual. I believe each individual is a unique person with unique beliefs who should be fully free to express, pursue, and advocate for those beliefs as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others.

I’m pretty down with classical liberalism. I am passionate about civil liberties and economic freedom for all. “Live and let live” without the government deciding for us how the individual should live their lives, and provide economic freedom for all individuals to pursue their own endeavors without having to belong to a nobility or special class in order to access such opportunities.

I’m also a conservative (I think?), but I disagree with the broad definition of American conservative presented via Wikipedia, which is:

a broad system of political beliefs in the United States that is characterized by respect for American traditions, support for Judeo-Christian values, free speech, moral absolutism, economic liberalism, anti-communism, advocacy of American exceptionalism, and a defense of Western culture from threats posed by ‘creeping socialism’, moral relativism, multiculturalism and liberal internationalism.

I disagree with half of that list (I underlined above that which I do not believe), so I don’t know what that means for my idea of conservatism. My understanding of my flavor of conservatism is I believe in preserving those traditions which define our history but are not harmful to anyone. For example, I think maintaining the structure of government as outlined in the Constitution is a really good idea, but I’m really glad the age-old tradition of slavery (which, needless to say, was extremely harmful) is over. I’m for slow, gradual, thoughtful change as the default setting when time is not of the essence. The abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement are examples of when time is not a luxury and change must happen swiftly, but when those aren’t the kind of stakes on the table, I’m all for slow change just so that we’re careful not to forget who we are and where we came from — and more importantly, so that we know exactly what change we’re bargaining for and for what  ultimate purpose at the given moment before we pass a point of no return where “oops” is too late to say in the face of the unforeseen consequences.

I’m for conserving the values of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. I don’t know of any modern body of American conservatives I’d touch with a ten-foot pole (the Tea Party creeps the crap out of me), so I really don’t know what kind of conservative, if any, that leaves me to be at this point.

Here’s where it gets really muddy: I propose what is liberal and conservative is mostly defined by the point in time the question is asked.  With this in mind, I might be a conservative liberal, but I don’t fully agree with what’s outlined in the linked description there, either.

What do I mean by defined by the point in time? I mean that during the time of the American Revolution, the idea of denying a monarchy and establishing a country of self-rule of the people was wildly liberal. Then, the conservative stance was to side with the long-established monarchy, which was to adhere to a very firmly grounded tradition at the time. Yet today, conservatives by and large claim to advocate for the preservation of individual freedom, private property, and rule of the people, which today is to hold to long-held tradition and the established system. So in other words, I propose what is liberal today is conservative tomorrow, at least in terms of the liberal ideas that stick.

For these reasons, when speaking in the shorthand, I tell people I’m moderate, but even that word is problematic. There isn’t a well-defined “middle” line that if you cross it from one direction, you’re conservative, and if you cross from the other, you’re liberal. It’s a spectrum, so “moderate” is to say “somewhere in between those two extremes”, which, in truth, I would argue most of the populace resides on. But what other concise way is there to say “quite a bit of this, a little of that”?

I could go on for a few more hours on this question alone, but I think this is a sufficient start, for now. For Part Two, I’ll delve into where I stand on the “Left or Right?” question (which, no, it’s not the same question).

A Non-Crazy View of…Immigration

Remember when Reagan advocated amnesty for illegal immigrants and open borders?

Rather than […] talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here, and when they want to go back, they can go back, and […] open the border both ways […]

The above is taken from a 1980 debate between Reagan and Bush Sr. Both 1980s conservatives would be regarded as bleeding heart progressive globalists by today’s standards…perhaps paid off by Soros for bonus points.   And one of these two men is the dude one of our political parties has all but elevated to sainthood.

He had more thoughts on the topic later in 1984:

Because people are losing their minds over the topic nowadays, I’m going to discuss immigration.  This is a weird topic to me, and I disagree with pretty much everybody on it.  I like to think this is because the “views” presented today in media are extreme caricatures that misrepresent the issue.


Americans Like Multiplying

What I find really, really bizarre about the form the topic has taken today is that we seem to have forgotten that we have always been about Americans promoting American values and inviting more people to become Americans because that has a net result of more Americans.  More little flags in more little yards.  More workers for more jobs.  More democracy.  More voices singing quaint little patriotic songs as eagles soar overhead.  Remember when we were all about anybody and everybody packing up and coming over because even if your life to this point sucked — especially if it sucked — we’d take you in because once you become an American, we’ll make you awesome?

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

The idea has always been that every incoming immigrant is just a new American in the making, a proud new convert to the world’s shining city on a hill.

I honestly can’t imagine any modern context employing the words “wretched refuse” that wouldn’t end with building a wall.  Today, we’re trying to make America great “again”, which is confusing given that…


Isn’t the U.S. of A. the Cat’s Pajamas?

Or, to borrow a phrase I hear over and over again on a certain conservative talk radio show, “the greatest nation on God’s green Earth”?  (As an aside, how can it not be great and be the greatest simultaneously?)  I grew up being led to believe we’re kind of a big deal.  We’re the leader of the free world.  Home of the American Dream.  Big houses with picket fences.  Home-runs and hamburgers and 401k’s and everyone has two Hummers in their driveway…

Yet we get pissed off because other people want to bail and head over our way?  Heaven forbid someone want to live a better life here.  And for those especially desperate, given their far worse states in extremely non-American lesser countries devoid of flashy little flags in front yards, can we blame them for throwing caution to the wind and trying to make it into the Dream however fastest they can, be it legal or not?  Would you not be tempted to fudge the rules if you were stuck on the other side?  How is it we’re not excited about how flipping eager they are to abandon their homeland and slap “made in America” on their foreheads?

That’s not to say I’m proposing we go “screw it, anything goes now”.


You Can’t Ignore Laws

We can’t ignore laws.  If we could, then we could just will-nilly do whatever we darn well pleased, because the words of the law would just be arbitrary letters on paper, such as the letters on the paper of “8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible aliens“:

An alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled, or who arrives in the United States at any time or place other than as designated by the Attorney General, is inadmissible.

That one sentence is really what the whole mess boils down to.  That is the letter of the law and that law is settled, so we have to obey it.  That’s how laws work.  So if someone crosses the border in any way other than that which is “designated by the Attorney General” (which is to say, dudes in suits), then they have broken the law, and can’t hang out with us.

But wait!  That law is unjust, deporting parents and breaking up families, you racist fascist!  Well, hold on, that’s jumping the gun.  I said that’s the law and we have to enforce the law else laws mean nothing.  I didn’t say it was right.  As the infamous Edward Snowden would be quick to remind you, legal does not always mean moral.

What we can’t do is expect law enforcers to just pretend this law doesn’t exist.  What we can do is debate the moral rightness/wrongness of the law, then advocate for changing that law if necessary.  You can push for the judicial branch to strike down the law or the legislative branch to change the law.  Is that fair to illegal immigrants here?  No.  Do I wish it was?  Yes.  Does anyone care what I think?  No chance in hell.  You have to change the law; ignoring it is not a solution.


The Law is a Mess

I propose the heart of the problem is that the system for becoming a legal immigrant is a mess of red tape and hoops to jump through.  To get your big move rubber-stamped by the powers that be may very well take thousands of dollars and years of waiting.  So, honestly, do you blame someone, who’s current neighborhood challenge is staying alive, when they conclude they can’t wait that long and afford that much?  How in the world do we expect “the homeless, the tempest-tossed” to fork up that kinda funding and just hang tight a “few” years?  Are we going to propose changing the saying on our iconic statue, and if so, isn’t that the exact opposite of being conservative?

Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps we would have fewer illegal immigrants if we made legal immigration reasonably accessible?  Do you stay patient waiting at the DMV?

I’m not saying go all crazy with open borders so people can just run on over on a whim, but isn’t expecting them to win a bureaucratic war of attrition a little bit much?  Is that really the only two options on the table nowadays?

Why aren’t we encouraging folks to be anxious and eager to become Americans?


Make America Peppy Again

The whole motto of the current President, “Make America Great Again”, is the dumbest pile of bologna to come along in a while in that it’s literally the exact opposite of what we needed to hear.  The conservative Republicans of old were all about telling you how freaking amazing our country is.  They would point to the “flood” of “illegals” and say, “See?  We’re so awesome, they can’t even wait to get here legally!”

No one’s saying that.

That’s the problem.


Update 02/10 – I felt it worth adding a disclaimer in case my writing skill failed to imply the message accurately.  If any of the language here strikes you as particularly ‘Murican’ or nationalistic, it’s sarcasm.  I was trying to speak, with a bit of hyperbole, from a point of view I grew up drenched in during the 80’s. 


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