Monday, June 29, 2015

Politically what I am *not*

I don't know when this happened, and frankly I don't care.

A long time ago, being "a republican" meant taking ownership of your own deeds first, encouraging economic growth, protecting the right of the individual. It meant a strong, and at times aggressive foreign policy. It meant being proud of the present day America. 

But what passes for the the conservative movement today, and by extension, many of their allies, is little more than a cancerous mutation of the principles I love.

Being responsible for yourself has turned into a cult of "self determination" that stops *just* short of saying anything can be overcome, and by extension all failures are indications of personal weakness. We mock the idea of the government offering assistance to people in need, and we hold up the worst of the worst, a handful of self-indulgent, unrepentant frauds, and tacitly proclaim them as "typical" of all who ask for help from the government. the RNC would have you believe that most people at the warfare office are lifelong leeches, when the fact of the mater is quite different. 

I believe in the concept of a free market economy, and want to see individual ideas grow and prosper, but watching conservative policy on business over he past ten years alone is like watching a nightmare of blind obedience to greed. Statement after statement from local and state leadership ignore, or deny the fundamental facts that prosperous  business in today's day and age are *not* likely to spread the wealth down to their employees. In this economy, with thousands clamoring for work, there are plenty of places, and plenty of small companies who are happy to  pay you as little as they possibly can, and until someone forces their hand, they will not, and realistically can not lift the bottom line without getting slaughtered by their competition. Not all bosses are evil, but just enough of them are selfish enough to keep 'the system" from ever being "charitable" (for lack of a better word at this moment) at a large scale. The idea that 40 hours a week should give you a livable wage should be a point of conversation, not passed off to private industry as "when the economy gets better, the wages will go up".

Likewise, I fully support the right of the rich to get richer, and the right of the individual to make and keep more money. But the more I hear about how few people control the majority  of the cash flow in this country, and how little they play in taxes proportionately, I have to ask when "making money" turned into dodging out of civil duty? I pay my 25% (give or take), why in the hell am I hearing about people paying 5%, 6% or 7% and calling it a day there?

And likewise, in today's environment, money hold a direction correlation with power and influence, and political circles on both sides of the aisle are rife with stories of local and state elections where everyone agrees that someone 'outspent' someone else to get "the word" out.

And just in case anyone wanted some names, start with "the Koch" family, and work out from there.

I don't resent or want to limit the freedom to make money, we are not socialists. But money also carries with it power, and some in power are using their money to limit other's freedom. I'm not saying I have all the answers.... but the dialogue thus far has been shouted down with "they must hate the rich" and "he wants all of your money" whenever the issue is raised.

I support research and scientific development, and when the data doesn't tell such a rosy story, skepticism is appropriate; rigor is part of "the process". But the republican pundits today have made character attacks and bad math their M.O. when talk turns to issues like climate change, environmental conservation and human impact. Personally, I'm convinced that we are hurting the environment, and that our work is changing the overall environment of the planet, but yes or no... when a scientific paper comes out saying that, the responses from the right seldom contain good science... but rather bad one-off examples, accusations of ulterior motives, and cries of "tree huggers". I don't mind a good argument, I don't even mind losing said argument. But why do we insult the process of discovery by STARTING the conversation with "I don't agree with them, so how can I prove they are wrong?"

I have always understood the reluctance to embrace alternate lifestyles and religions, its human nature when addressing things that are new. But today, non-traditional religions and same sex marriage are *not* new, they are not misunderstood, and they are not scary or dangerous. What remains of the opposition to them falls into two categories, the bigots, and the legalistic.

To the first, who in the hell are you to tell adults who they can or can't live with? Who in the hell are you to say what faith can or can't have a sign or a cross or a marker? Who in the hell are we to say "but it's offensive"? The Republic party is lined with bigots. not all of them, and I can't even say its a majority, but with election races running tight every year, the party knows how to get votes, many by appealing to bigots and repressives... they then have to keep that party line going if they want to compete in the elections. They've tolerated the ultraconservative old guard and their ways so long that some of the poisonous "you are not like us so you are dangerous" mentality is making it into policy and decision making. 

To the second. I do not have any doubt that the constitution's balance between the rights of the states and the right of the individual, and the powers of the federal government is a tentative, dangerous, and dynamic balancing act that we get wrong as often as we get it right.
But we a have a whole class of people here who are told at the doors to hospitals, court houses, police stations and even funerals that their rights are not as secure or protected as others.  I have personally seen too many cases were parents, administrators, judges and law enforcement offices have stolen precious time form people who didn't have it to being with. Without proper protection, people can be undermined, challenged, and driven out of vital decision making processes in their own loves, or the lives of loved ones. Does it happen everywhere? No. Is it the majority of times, I don't know, but I will admittedly guess not.  But it's more common that it should be, more common that it needs to be. And most importantly, its nothing, NOTHING but an expression of meanness. Bullying as petty as any schoolyard thug… but done with badges, pens, or official sounding words.

Are we so desperate to protect "states rights" that we will lets states like Oklahoma (who were forced to allow marriage by a court) impose the locally popular interpretation of "right and wrong" on others? I support the right of states and their autonomy… but that doesn’t include discrimination. That doesn’t include letting the majority force themselves on a minority.

Waiting for states to 'come around' of their own accord would likely have left Jim Crow laws in place well into the 90s. Why would we think anything different about  lifestyles and how states deal with them? If anyone want's to let Oklahoma do this on their own, keep in mind that the state has voted (overwhelmingly) to legal jam Christian values down the throats of any resident living in the state. Gay marriage: "threat to our children", religious right (namely inheritances and wills by Muslim in this example): "infiltration by a foreign power"... an so on.
I'm not independent because I am no longer conservative. I'm independent because what I believe is isn't represented by the republicans in the least, and who they pander to  not only disgusting, but dangerous.

I'm all for a strong international presence, I want to see an aggressive display of force, and I am not opposed to shedding blood in our national defense.

But how in the hell we wound up in two counterinsurgency operations in nations with minimal to no infrastructure to build upon, and  populations so diverse and violent within their own realm… is just beyond me. We went into Iraq on a lie. I don't even care who's lie it was, but I fell for it, I cheered them in... then we got stuck going "well now what?" Then the locals who didn't like us did exactly what was done in Vietnam... they used the home court advantage. We went to Afghanistan on a grudge match... we won the first round... but it became clear very quickly that we didn't have a second step laid out... we went in on impulse, one whole nation, madder than hell.... great... then what?

There's a line between "aggressive" and "stupid"... I would submit we were humping that line  like a horny high school senior when Bush gave the "go" order.

I'm all for being proud of the US. We have a lot to be proud of.

But what I see, with my own eyes from the right wing these days, is not *just* national pride, it includes  examples of a brand of ultranationalism reminiscent of tyrannies past. I've seen people want, demand, and even dictate that others: adults, teens, children, *must* be proud of this country. They insist on a pride so absolute that it needs no justification, and so fragile that it can survive no scrutiny or criticism. I've seen books, texts, papers and speeches written and improvised in all forms, defending the country like its existence were a religion, and not a nation. The concept that one can be critical of this nation and still love it is paid little more than lip service by pundits and policy makers who set the tone for the party leadership.

I still shudder at the benchmarks of the progressive movement these 8 years past. the Affordable Healthcare Act was ham-handed, and I'm already seeing some ugly repercussions from it in my own premiums. There was good to it, but I am worried that more people will suffer other ills because of it in place of, or perhaps on top of getting sick.  I'm watching a president and a party treat major shooting incidents as policy points for gun control when the issues run a lit deeper than just who had their hands on a gun.

I'm seeing *both* parties talk out their assess when it comes to human rights and civil liberties. The patriot act and the NSA's data collection just being two examples. 

No, I still don't consider myself a liberal or a progressive. And I still do consider myself a conservative.

But there is a difference between "conservative" and  "scared, ignorant, bully". I just wanted to make sure no one thought me the latter of the two.