“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Liberals, Conservatives and The Rest of US (or at least me)


When I was younger I had no trouble at all identifying with the Democratic Party.  Now, I've come to identify more closely with the Right. Until recently, I felt the term Social Liberal, Fiscal Conservative suited me. But now, I know better.

The term Social Liberal, Fiscal Conservative is often derided as an obvious oxymoron and really, not only is it wrong, it’s too simplistic to describe anyone’s political ideology. 

Here’s how I’ve come to describe my political worldview: Legal liberal/social moderate-centrist/fiscal conservative. – A more righteous version of our 42nd President, Slick Willie Clinton.  I never would have signed NAFTA or gone for the deregulation that led to this mess.

Time to define some terms.

The Ogre is a Legal Liberal: someone who believes that all groups of people, races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and the like deserve equal rights and access to justice, liberty and freedom; should enjoy all the privileges, obligations, and responsibilities of American citizens. We're talking about the whole panoply of gay rights (including the whole LGBT community), women's rights including a woman's "right to choose," and so forth.
                Affirmative action: - I am not in favor of affirmative action; in case anyone care's, here's why.

Note: Legal Liberalism does not call for public treasury spending to address social problems; social liberalism does.

The Ogre is NOT a Social Liberal: I do NOT believe in social welfare programs. I believe this is just a slick way to hold people back; not help them. 

But let's delve into social policy. What should we understand 'social' to mean as it relates to state fiscal policy? Social is about those areas of national life that cut across genders, sexual orientation, ethnic groups, "races," age groups, religions, etc. Poor people come in all ages, national origins, ethnic groups, races, both genders, and all sexual orientations. Poverty is a universal. People trapped in low wage, low benefit, and even lower hope jobs are a universal.

Trade policy that pits less educated American workers against less educated workers of other developing countries is a social issue - in that these "less educated" American workers come in all religions, races, both genders, all sexual orientations.
On healthcare, the tens of millions of Americans that are underinsured or uninsured is a 'social' issue because these people belong to all ethnic groups, "races," age groups, religions, sexual orientations, and both genders.
Our medieval system of corporate patent protection, which makes prescription drugs thousands of times more expensive than they need to be - this is a social issue in that the consequences hit people in all the categories mentioned.
The economist, Dean Baker's free online book, The Conservative Nanny State, is marvelously illuminating on these points.
These are all social issues that demand a response from state fiscal policy. These matters have to do with a state's "budget priorities". Either you are in favor of spending from the public treasury to address these problems or not so much. If the latter is the case, you are a social conservative. If the former is the case, then you are a true social liberal. Here, I am a social moderate/centrist as I could be talked into the idea that a few programs should be supported by the public for the common good. However, I am more of the opinion that social programs should NOT be supported from public coffers especially in cases where a budget deficit exists.
It’s important to emphasize here, that these days, when Democrats address true social issues, it’s never without assuring us how these measures will actually reduce the deficit, and how it will contribute to balancing the budget. They usually don't propose policies to alleviate true social suffering that are not "paid for." Here, we can label such moves vaguely "center-left" in character.

Fiscal Conservative: I place the utmost importance on balancing budgets and reducing deficits.  Whenever this is accomplished a politician can’t be labeled a social liberal by definition, but as I argue, perhaps he / she can be a legal liberal (see Bill Clinton).

Cultural conservatism. Cultural conservatism, as I understand it, has to do with a narrow view of the American heritage and the American identity. Cultural conservatives would like prayer in schools. They don't like the idea of separation of church and state; they think it’s wrong and contrary to the tradition given to us by our "Founding Fathers." They would like creationism at least equally represented alongside evolution in schools. They would like flag burning to be a crime. They are in favor of such things like making English the official national language. They see America as a Christian nation. And so on and so forth.
THE OGRE on Cultural Conservatism: I am a person of strong faith yet I support the separation of church and state because I support your right to believe whatever you want to believe. Moreover, I don’t expect that you would like it very much if I attempted to force my beliefs down your windpipe. 

Libertarianism - an ideology associated with the Right centered around the right of individuals not to be unduly harassed or constrained by the government. A libertarian would not go for affirmative action, since from his or her point of view, this would interfere with the rights of others.
We can expect a libertarian to be in favor of abortion rights, the legalization or decriminalization of narcotics, gay marriage, etc. We can expect a representative in congress, with a Libertarian streak to have voted against The Patriot Act and against giving amnesty to the telecommunications companies that worked with the government under the Bush administration to illegally spy on American citizens – all things that I’m in favor of.
THE OGRE on Libertarianism: This is where I make my home. Leave me the F*@% alone.  The central role of government, in my opinion, is to stay out of my way and advocate for the little guy by being a fair umpire. A fundamental charge of government is to regulate.  But the game is rigged so that money manipulators win and we lose. And the lobbying interests of the rich are dumping big dollars to make sure the game doesn't change and greed can continue to go unchecked. Our government has failed us. Our governments most central and fundamental role - to protect the rights of its citizens by instilling measures to ensure the free and unencumbered pursuit of enterprise – has morphed into the protectorate of the super wealthy. So how about you leave the little guy alone for a change and go kick some dirt in your friends face – the real bully?
 
Two sides of the same coin: We should understand that Democrats and Republicans are in a consensus on fiscal therefore true social policy; as well as foreign policy and defense/security policy with stylistic differences, technical distinctions, and tactical variations and disagreements. It is this consensus on these four areas of policy (social, fiscal, foreign policy, and defense/security policy) that cause people like Noam Chomsky, and me, to describe the Democrats and Republicans as "two factions of the business party."

So that’s me.  What am I? Conservative? Liberal?  Both, right? I am a self described Legal liberal/social moderate-centrist/fiscal conservative. You can’t put me into a box (unless it’s labeled “Legal liberal/social moderate-centrist/fiscal conservative”).  Like Chris Rock said, “some stuff I’m liberal about, and some stuff I’m conservative about.”  And, “if you make up your mind before you hear the issue, you’re a fucking idiot.” In fact, that right there, in a nutshell, is the problem with our world; Democrats and Republicans arguing about inconsequential silliness while the money manipulators – the greedy, corrupt, banking cartels – continue to make away with our cash, stripping us of our freedoms along the way. 

A final word on Political philosophy: Politicians ought to be as responsive to voters as businesses are to consumers. You, as the politician, should look upon voters not as people whom you can dictate to and move to your position. Rather, you should look upon voters as people you can learn from and you (as the politician) should move yourself to meet the needs of the voters.

With all that said irrefutable research has shown that over time, the broad population - outside the top one percent, does better under Democratic rather than Republican regimes. Did you know that?  Maybe a Democrat compiled the data?!

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