September 17, 2007

Politically confused.

Posted in Politics at 10:49 pm by Caleb Winn

I am a Republican, and loyally so. I have great affection for the Grand Ol’ Party. I love Ronald Reagan, and think that Democrats are, by and large, the “bad guys.” But these emotional attachments don’t necessarily translate into corresponding policy views, which leaves me wondering where I lie.

The nature of partisan politics

The party establishments tend to hold opposing and divergent views on almost everything. This is caused by their divergent constituencies, and is dramatically worsened by fierce antagonism between the parties, which accentuates those differences and makes compromise virtually impossible.

The GOP establishment depends on corporate fat cats, upper-middle-class suburbanites, rural rugged individualists, and angry evangelicals for support. In order to win in primary elections, Republican candidates have to adopt positions that appeal to these voters, sounding ‘tough,’ ‘fiscally responsible,’ and ‘values-oriented.’ A “real” Republican must be pro-life, pro-gun, anti-illegal immigration, hawkishly pro-war, anti-environment, and no matter how low taxes are already, they can always be cut again!

Democrats, on the other hand, must answer to a myriad of interests all their own. Labor unions, feminists, environmentalists, the GLBTetc lobby, anti-war doves, and the urban poor, especially among minorities. This leads to a whole host of policy commitments that most democrats must honor if they hope to be successful. While some pro-life, pro-gun Democrats may be successful in Congressional elections in states like Tennessee, they often find themselves snubbed by their national caucuses, and could never succeed at the national (Presidential) level.

To make matters worse, these groups don’t really like each other very much, which leads to reactionary policy-making. If the Democrats propose an idea, Republicans will often oppose it regardless of its merit, or vice versus. Additionally, niche groups within the party will adopt the political views of the party that extend beyond their niche, so that evangelical Christians borrow the economic policies of the corporate fat cats, simply because the opposing economic views are held by the “other team.” For this reason, people whose moral convictions cause them to be pro-life are also, by extension, anti-tax, anti-welfare, and pro-gun. We have these bizarre groupings of tangentially-related interests in place of a consistent political ideology, wherein the economic libertarians are married to the socially fascist, and the social libertarians are in bed with the economically socialist.

So where does that leave me?

I am a very partisan man. I really do like the Republican party. At some level, politics is an exciting game, and I want “my team” to win. But while this makes for engaging (if sometimes soul-destroying) political showmanship, it almost certainly makes for bad, inconsistent policy. The fact of the matter is, I am not in lock-step with the GOP. On a whole host of issues, I might break ranks with my party and try to find common ground with the Democrats. On some issues, I just think that the Democrats have it right, and the GOP needs to get its head on straight.

So how does that work? As a political non-entity outside of the power and influence of the Beltway, I suppose it doesn’t matter what I think. I can borrow ideas from both sides without anybody really caring. And when it comes to selecting a candidate, I just have to choose which issues I care about more passionately. Do I suppose the candidate who shares my social views, or my economic views?

It’s just a darn shame that a candidate can’t succeed in this political climate without spreading divisiveness and vitriol. It’s a shame that a candidate can’t transcend constituencies and seek meaningful compromise on important issues. Well, maybe he can, but we’ll see how successful he is.

Policy laundry list

Economic policy

I am in favor of a guest worker program (call it “amnesty” if you want), with or without securing our borders.

I am opposed to universal health care, especially of the nationalized variety.

I do, however, support Bush’s plan to make all medical insurance costs tax-deductible, whether through an employer or not, and may even support a Massachusetts-style plan to mandate health care coverage, with limited government subsidies.

I also support Bush’s approach to social security reform, though I may also consider lifting the $90,000/year cap on FICA-eligible earnings in order to increase the pot. Regardless, the Democratic head-in-the-sand approach to Social Security reform is as shameful as it is asinine.

I think that sometimes we honestly just need to raise taxes, or at least stop cutting them. Deficits are sad.

Social policy

I am ardently pro-life. This is a (the?) big one for me.

I don’t have a problem with affirmative action, gay marriage, or sex education in public schools.

I don’t believe in an innate right to bear arms, and generally favour gun control, though it’s probably best left to localities where possible since NYC and KY have rather different threats and needs.

I oppose the death penalty, Megan’s Law, Jessica’s Law, and a whole host of other wrong-headed anti-crime bills that are based more on anger than on common sense.

Security policy

I am opposed to torture in all instances, and support the legal rights of the very worst in society.

I hold to a fairly Neo-conservative foreign policy, and think that withdrawing from Iraq would create a situation so violently awful that it would make Darfur look like Disneyland.

I think that the UN is generally a good thing.

I believe that Globalization leads to greater security through greater economic interdependence, provided that our bilateral investments are diversified.

I believe that the United States probably isn’t doing enough to engage in the ideological, intellectual struggle against Islamo-fascism.

In conclusion

I support John McCain for President, because he isn’t a partisan hack. The man is the Real Deal, a principled Statesman who holds firmly to his beliefs even when it hurts him politically (see immigration reform), and is willing to stand up for what’s right to Democrats and Republicans alike (see torture). But he is a man who is willing to meet in the middle, to try to reach meaningful bipartisan compromise on the details wherever possible. He’s a man who understands what is at stake in the Global War on Terror, and can be trusted to be an effective Commander-in-Chief.

Sadly, I suspect that a Statesman cannot succeed in the modern political climate.

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