Principles in Voting   3 comments

I was raised in a politically divided home. Dad was a old-style Democrat union member who would be shocked at how far left the Democratic Party has drifted (and would probably vote Republican these days) and Mom was a nonpartisan conservative feminist who would wonder why modern conservatives keep voting with the Republican Party when it is clearly not a conservative political party. She’d be voting Libertarian now, but probably still not be a party member.

They thought it was healthy to discuss politics with us growing up and we were expected to study the issues from both perspectives and form opinions. They liked it when we argued with them. I have never been a member of a political party. Alaska allows me to register as a nonpartisan, so that has been my party affiliation since my 18th birthday. I took a test in a political science course my freshman year of college that said I was a moderate. I found that a while ago tucked inside an old textbook. I was for abortion, women’s rights, free speech, freedom of religion, private enterprise, and civil rights, but also for welfare and “progressive” taxation. I was skeptical of environmental regulations and strongly opposed to Carter’s D2 land grab in Alaska. The test tried to illicit a rejection of the 2nd amendment, but I checked that I supported the 2nd amendment and my comment was “stop messing with the constitution”. I also said I was voting for Carter, which I did in 1980, because – my comment again — “Reagan is an actor, not qualified”.
Something remarkable happened as I looked over that test. I decided to answer the questions as if seeing it for the first time in 2015. Remarkably, I found I didn’t answer most of the questions any differently … except for abortion and voting for Carter, I’ve only changed my position on welfare and “progressive” taxation. I understand better now what free speech and freedom of religion means, my view on women’s rights and civil rights have evolved with changes in our society. By the matrix of that particular test, by the way, I’m still considered a moderate.

If I’m honest with myself, I allowed my classmates and professors to influence my vote on the 1980 Presidential election. If I’d actually studied the issues (we didn’t have the Internet in those days, so it was harder), I would have probably not have dismissed Reagan out of hand. Twenty-year-olds are really not that bright, but they are (as I was then) completely convinced they got it going on.

Cartoon of the Liberal BrainI’m definitely not a moderate by today’s standards. I’m a conservative libertarian with anarchist leanings. But I haven’t changed that much. I’ve evolved as life as taught me lessons. Welfare reform worked and people didn’t die. I now know small business people and others who make a good living and I see that taxation is always regressive because it takes from the productive to give jobs to government employees and programs to people who are less productive (or non-productive) whose lives would be so much better if they went out and got a job. I’ve come to understand that government cannot protect our civil rights, it can only choose who gets to exercise them this decade. Rights are inherent in us, so we don’t need government to tell us what they are. I knew that instinctively as a 19-year-old. Now I’ve thought it out and can articulate my reasoning.

Cartoon of the Conservative BrainSo, if I didn’t change (much), why am I no longer a moderate? Could it be that the political parties have changed? The Democratic Party has moved WAY leftward. If a Democratic professor today were to administer that test, the matrix would be different and I wouldn’t/couldn’t be a moderate. If a Republican professor were to administer that test today … who am I kidding — there may be a Republic professor in the School of Engineering, but not in the Political Science Department. You can compare Carter’s platform to Hillary’s and Bernie’s for yourself and you’ll see the only Democrat in the race who could have run as Democrat in 1980 is Malcolm O’Malley — and he probably would have won. Reagan won in 1980 and I voted for his reelection in 1984, but since then, the GOP has pretty consistently given us pro-corporation progressives as presidential nominees. With the exception of the Freedom Caucus, the GOP hasn’t really changed that much from before Reagan and that is fine for them — they represent business interests who are not necessarily interested in lower taxes on citizens or personal liberty. Like a lot of conservatives, I’ve woken up to the fact that the GOP is not representative of my values. I’ve perhaps come early to the decision I’m done voting for people who do not reflect my values, but I don’t think I’m alone. If there are any presidential elections after 2016, I think you’ll see more conservatives bailing from the GOP. If that means a progressive like Clinton or, worse, a socialist like Sanders wins, I’m accepting that as the price of having principles.

Chart of liberal and conservative beliefsUltimately, the idea that you can give everyone everything for free by taxing the rich will destroy the economy. When I say destroy, I don’t mean the Recession of 2008 or even the Depression of the 1930s. I mean — destroy. We’re $19 trillion in debt, $10 trillion of that to other countries, some of whom with the power to demand repayment. Worse, the other $9 trillion is in government securities — i.e., people’s retirement accounts. We cannot afford to make a mistake going forward and “free for everyone and rape the rich” is a huge mistake. But unlike a lot of conservatives, I’m not so afraid of that anymore. The destruction of the American economy will result in regime change and that is an opportunity for us to go back to our founding principles … or devolve into a fascist dictatorship, which should soften people up to embrace liberty when they get the opportunity.

This series will have one final post which will be the hub of the whole thing. I’m doing it last as an experiment.

3 responses to “Principles in Voting

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  1. I believe in conservative principles and The Constitution as it is written.


    Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
  2. Pingback: Issues Voting | aurorawatcherak

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