Reject your political party: Introduction
Ever since I was a young boy of eleven years old, American politics has fascinated me. This should surprise precisely no one who has known me for more than a week. I remember drawing caricatures and cartoons of then-president George H. W. Bush and then-candidates Bill Clinton and Ross Perot during the 1992 campaign season. (See the drawing, left.) I made my own political cartoons, based on my extremely limited knowledge of the political system, the major parties, and geopolitical events. My parents thought I would grow up to become a political cartoonist.
My family was a pretty typical middle-class conservative Christian WASP household, so of course we voted Republican. In my opinion, when you are young and uninformed, there are two major stances you can take politically. You can accept and defend your parents’ views or you can rebel for the sake of rebellion and pick the “opposite” party out of spite. I respected my parents and their views, and their view on free-markets and morality also made a lot of sense to me, so I went with the former.
Even though I was pushed towards the right, I’ve always had both major parties surrounding me and accessible to me, first due to the make-up of my family. My dad’s side was pretty conservative. Family on my dad’s side tended to be professionals (doctors and business owners) from the South with military backgrounds. My mom’s side was pretty liberal. They were blue-collar wage workers from Michigan, with a couple of California hippies thrown in for good measure. Our places of residence also afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to left and right. First, we lived in a very blue part of a very red state (the New Orleans metro area) and then in a very red part of a very blue state (rural New Jersey). I wasn’t surrounded by only one viewpoint, ever, so I learned how to disagree with someone without hating him, something I think many liberals and conservatives need to learn.
As I became older and more aware of the ways of the world, I started to rely less on party lines for opinions. It seemed to me that the talking heads in the media were just picking a side and defending it no matter what. A major turning point in my own political journey was the invasion of Iraq during the second Bush Administration. If you remember the 2000 election, one of George W. Bush’s major campaign points was a non-interventionist foreign policy. He painted himself as a change from the warmongering and meddling Clinton administration. (Sound familiar, Obama voters?) When “conservatives” like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity defended the Iraq War after blasting Clinton for Somalia and Kosovo, the hypocrisy and sycophancy became too thick to ignore.
I do not wish to go through my whole political transformation at this time, but I may at a later date. Instead, I want this post to serve as kind of an introduction to a short series on the positives and negatives of the two major political parties as well as the fastest growing political philosophy: libertarianism. I am well aware that there are probably as many political philosophies as there are people in the world, but for the sake of pragmatism I’m only going to write about these three. (Some of the bigger ones, like the Socialist Party, Green Party, Reform Party, and Constitution Party are not discussed as I see these as mainly extreme versions of either left- or right-wing ideology. Feel free to disagree, in the comments.) I’ll be painting in broad strokes, so don’t be surprised if you hail from one of the major parties and disagree with my assessment. I’m trying to characterize the official party lines, without caricaturing them. No “Democrats are godless Communist elitists” or “Republicans are ignorant Nazi rednecks” allowed.
What’s the purpose of doing this? Usually, by the time people are adults, they are pretty set in their ways. Political and religious debates are usually pretty fruitless. That said, my purpose is two-fold. The first is selfish. It’s a way for me to exorcise my own demons and to atone for my sin of supporting “the stupid party” in my youth. It’s a way to explain myself and my positions to those interested. Second, I hope that those reading it will reflect on their own values versus the stated positions of their chosen party. Too often, political discussions are about tearing down your opponent’s position without really reflecting on your own. One must remember that just because someone disagrees with you, that doesn’t make him stupid, ignorant, or crazy. Maybe he just disagrees. We are all subject to the same human faults and errors. Maybe your position is totally wrong, and the only reason you hold to it is because your party leaders laid it out for you. The author of the Gospel of Matthew said it best: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) When you take the plank out of your own eye, you may find that your values don’t actually line up with your party. Whether I succeed in these stated goals remains to be seen; I guess I’ll assess after the posts are written. Keep in mind, since I grew up in the USA and have spent 99.7% of my life in the USA (yes, I calculated) I will only be discussing American political parties. Amerocentric, yes, but write what you know, right?
Reject Your Political Party Series
A Disclaimer About My Politics
Thanks for reading this post, I hope I challenged you in some way. Agree with me? That’s cool. Disagree? Even better. I’m just a random guy on the internet, voicing his opinion (at the time of writing this blog post; opinions change as more facts and experience are gathered). But imagine if I had the political power and will to force you to agree with me! That would be terrible, and that’s the point of voluntarism and non-aggression. You should not be forced to agree with me. Please extend me the same courtesy.
“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’ meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.” -Larry Hardiman
Political Blog Posts
- The Democrats Don’t Deserve Your Vote
- The Republicans Don’t Deserve Your Vote
- The Libertarians Don’t Deserve Your Vote
- Democracy ≠ Freedom
- I Don’t “Feel the Bern.”
- Confessions of a Public Servant
- Leaders vs. Rulers
- Libertarianism is Better Than Progressivism
- Why I Do Not Vote (And Neither Should You)
- The Traffic Court Swindle
- Top Five Reasons I Don’t Argue Politics on Social Media
- Why Meaningful Debate is Impossible
- Dos and Do Nots for the Liberty Minded
- “There ought to be a law…”
- A Defense of Fugitive Slaves
- Conspiracy Theories are Dumb
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