My Way or the Highway

Rather than address job creation or the 6 billion dollar budget deficit my state faces the Republican legislative majority has concentrated on issues such as voter ID and gay marriage. They succeeded in placing a constitutional amendment proposal banning gay marriage on the 2012 ballot even in the face of a current DOMA law forbidding just that. The fact that they chose to put their energy into such things only proves to me something I have felt for a long time, that Republicans and, yes, most all politicians are driven more by ideology than actually doing good things for the people.

The 2010 election which brought in a wave of right wing elected officials nationwide appears to have been interpreted as a mandate for these conservatives to push their reactionary agenda down the throats of a helpless public. I will never understand how winning slightly over 50% of the vote gives them the idea that everyone wants them to foist their ideology on all of us. Wouldn’t they think that nearly half of the people don’t agree with them and maybe they should look to compromise just a little to hopefully make things right with the most citizens possible.

In a word, no. They assume that they can just go ahead and ramrod every idea they have been salivating over for years into law. This slavish devotion to ideology over pragmatism is indicative of a patent disregard for the greater welfare of us all and a manic desire to control our lives. I find it ludicrous that the right rattles on about how the socialist liberals want to control everyone’s lives when that is exactly what they want to do themselves.

This rabid effort to conduct social engineering, another thing they accuse progressives of doing, just goes to show that the things they hate about us are only valid when it is us doing them. When they do them it is perfectly ok. Diversity and tolerance are just fine as long as the result pleases them. If not they scream bloody murder.

Ideology is fine as a guide to move forward. It is not a strict script for our way or bust. I just wish that all politicians would realize that things might just work out if they work toward a via media rather than insisting that they always get their way.

It would do the world a lot of good.

Disingenuous Distractions

For some reason, after their 2010 victory, rather than working on our nation’s pressing economic issues Republicans got the notion that they had a mandate to effectuate their social agenda. One result of this effort, in my state, has been the introduction of a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This is being undertaken even though our state already has a DOMA law that make gay marriage illegal.

One might ask why they would do this when homosexuals cannot legally marry. Isn’t that a bit of overkill. And isn’t it just a little distracting and time consuming when the state has a budget shortfall of billions.

These legislators claim that “activist judges” could overturn the law at any time and that this discrimination needs to be codified in the constitution to protect the “definition” of marriage. As with most attempts to legislate morality I believe that this one has been forwarded to simply to assure a large social conservative turnout at the polls in 2012. The Republican base is smaller than the Democrat’s and they are always looking for ways to increase Republican turnout.

In keeping with their desire to increase their chances of victory in 2012 they have also tried to pass legislation requiring photo IDs to vote. (As of April 2012, a voter ID amendment has now also been put on the November ballot) This is simply, to my mind, another attempt to improve Republican chances of electoral advantage by suppressing the right to vote for those who traditionally do not have access or need for photo IDs, many of whom are assumed to vote for Democrats.

It would appear that Republicans are more interested in gaining and retaining power than in serving the needs of the people. I have always found it odd that those whose despise government are so obsessed with being that government.

Go figure.

Shifting Gears

I have seen a recent trend of libertarians becoming more powerful and influential in the Republican party. It seems that over the years libertarians have become more and more frustrated with voting for libertarians and getting virtually nothing in return. In doing so they have seemingly downplayed the socially liberal aspect of their philosophy to forward the free market part of their goals. I don’t believe all libertarians have taken this route but it seems clear that the forwarding of a free market philosophy is so important to them that they are willing to partner with the more socially conservative religious right to achieve their ends.

On the other hand the more socially liberal libertarians have not embraced the democratic party with quite the same fervor. It is my opinion that they cannot bring themselves to vote for candidates whom they feel are creating a nanny state. These are rugged individualists who feel the democrats are soft and fiscally irresponsible.

The sum total of this apparent shift in voting habits is that the Republican base is growing while the Democrats base remains pretty much the same. This trend is slowly evening out the political bases, which for many years has favored Democrats.

One reason for this change could be the influx of lots of cash into American politics by very wealthy Libertarians such as the Koch Brothers. In their fanatic and highly successful push to advance a free market philosophy the Kochs have poured millions of dollars into organizations such as Americans for Prosperity to drum up support for their ideas. The Tea Party has been a major recipient of these propaganda efforts. Tea party advocates, who nominally claim to be independents, hate Democrats and voted primarily Republican in the last cycle. Perhaps this explains the shift of Libertarian voters to the dark side.

On the whole I find this fascinating, if not rather scary.

Dueling Dualists

I’m not sure what is the basis for the American fascination with dualism but I feel strongly that it does not serve us. American politics is particularly afflicted with dualism, probably because we have only two major parties and political thought is mostly divided into two major categories, conservatism and liberalism. This seeming worship of dualism has led to virulent partisanship in government which has in turn led to motionless gridlock in society’s business of getting things done for the people.

The media is certainly no help in this matter. They play one side off the other and, toward their own ends, overemphasize the differences between parties and people. This concentration on what separates us leaves little room for an honest discussion of what we all have in common, what binds us instead of separates us.

When I think about those on the other end of the political continuum from me I always try to remember that these people love their kids, just like me, they have to take out the trash, just like me, they worry about their health, just like me and any number of other similarities that we, as humans here on planet earth share. Why everyone is so ready to delineate, analyze and emphasize our differences rather than our commonalities is beyond me.

This dualistic approach to nearly everything has caused us to despise each other. Shouldn’t we be looking for that which shows us that we are all in the same boat on this blue sphere. Wouldn’t celebrating our common humanity push us toward solutions that seek to help the many instead of pitting us against each other in a manufactured struggle of polar opposites.

Who knows, we just might get something good done for the world.