Music: Woven Hand
On paper, it seems I have quite libertarian tendencies in that I prefer that the government leave people alone and keep the budget balanced. On the other hand, I am a lifelong user of such big-government services as PBS, libraries, and parks. I also acknowledge that people occasionally need government assistance (in the form of student loans, welfare, etc.), but these programs should be run in a cost-effective manner that produces the best results for the most people for the least amount of money.
On paper, it sounded like, despite my big-government tendencies, I was more ideologically in line with the Libertarian Party. Upon further investigation, most people who support the LP are very out of touch with reality. In the words of IBNR, who I took to an LP event on Election Night 2000, "This is a fucking Star Trek convention. These people are never going to get anywhere." In my future dealings with the party stalwarts, I found this to be quite true. They are not only commited to ideological purity, most of them have never had to make choices like paying the electric bill or buying food. Their rigid ideology also does not allow them to respond to real-life situations, especially in the area of foreign policy. They favor an isolationist foreign policy, which sounds good but there would be profound geopolitical consequences if America suddenly decided to exit the world stage, not to mention being rather selfish. Finally, even though the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in every state (something no other current third party can claim), they would rather continually run quixotic campaigns than open their tent to let in the majority of Americans who agree with them on many specific issues.
The major American political party that professed at one time to support these ideals outlined above is the Republican Party. The GOP's current track record, however, leaves a lot to be desired. They have ran up a massive debt and promote an agenda that seems to only benefit those in power with the full complicity and support of a large segment of voters who mistakenly think that the Republicans support a nebulous concept called "family values." The only thing that the Republican leadership seems to value at the moment is their tenuous grip on power. Their most lasting contribution to America during their reign of power in the legislative and executive branches has been to completely botch up militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq, reduce the stature of America diplomatically, and to pack the Supreme Court with so-called judges who agree with their ideology.
That brings us to the Democratic Party. In the weeks before the mid-term elections of 2006, it seems a pretty fair bet that they will benefit from a "throw the bums out" attitude that is pervading the country. So what do they stand for? Oddly enough, they seem to have become libertarian in a lot of ways; they are for reining in out-of-control government spending, a generally isolationist foreign policy (ie, withdrawing immediately from Afghanistan and Iraq), and keeping the government out of the private lives of the citizens. While it sounds like I have a lot in common these days with the Democrats, I wonder if they would really be interested in welcoming me into their tent. Although they are the only credible opposition party to the Republicans, a lot of their rhetoric seems to be filled with actual hate and disdain for those who do not share their "liberal values."
In each case I have outlined above, I seem to fit in but would fail an ideological purity test. This brings up the interesting question of why I seem to need to fit into a pre-fabricated political pigeon hole. Is it just a desire to fit in or have these political parties been co-opted by a small number of zealots intent on seeing their vision become the law of the land? I also spoke earlier about wanting to make a difference and participate, but if I can't figure out where to start. I wonder if there are a lot more people who feel the same way than I ever imagined, who want to participate but are sickened by the conduct and corruption of those in power. Maybe I can participate for now by putting up broadsides like this one in the hopes that I can get in contact with independent-minded folks who want to make a difference. If you are one, let me know what you think. If you aren't, let me know what you think. I just want to have a discussion.