Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Political Rant

OK, let me start by stating that I am neither a conservative nor a liberal according to the modern usage of those terms. While I skew left on certain issues like the environment, I skew right on things like fiscal policy. My views would mostly fall into what today is considered libertarian territory. I don't actually vote Libertarian, because the politics of that party tend to be a bit too anarchistic for my taste: but I have to say that the party I have generally supported, the GOP, currently fills me with revulsion.

There are many reasons for this. Firstly, I am an advocate of republican government in a founding-era sense: we are a collective of 50 states joined into a union, but we should have a certain amount of autonomy, and the attendant responsibility to see to our own affairs. This is not to say that I support the view that states should be allowed to trample on peoples' rights, enumerated or no. You'll find none of the weak arguments against the 14th Amendment here. I just cringe when I see the federal government stepping in and administering what should be local processes, or strong-arming states to pass legislation against their will (thank you, Ronald Regan). This opinion conflicts with the "big government conservatism" of the neoconservative movement, and with the idea of an overbearing theocratic state that Christian Reconstructionists seek to implement.

Secondly, I am an advocate of strictly secular government: I am careful not to establish my political views solely (or even significantly) based on religious belief, and to hell with what the Pope thinks. Granted, I am a lapsed Catholic and not the most religious person to begin with, but what faith I retain I feel obligated to keep out of my political advocacy, as I would not care to impose my beliefs on others any more than I would want them imposing theirs on me. I feel we should do away with all religious expression in public institutions, aside from offering ministers to our soldiers (I should qualify this by saying that I don't have a problem with members of government informing their decisions with their faith per se: this is unavoidable. I just don't like to see doctrine enshrined in the machinery). Get "In God We Trust" off of the currency. Get religious oaths out of the courts and legislature. Eliminate government's regulation and, frankly, acknowledgment, of marriage. And rid ourselves entirely of the Pledge of Allegiance (not just the Under God part: the whole damned, vapid, brainwashing, government-worshiping thing). This puts me entirely at odds with the GOP as it has existed since the religious right/neoconservative cabal came into ascendancy in 1988. And it definitely places me at odds with malarkey like the recent House resolution "recognizing" the historical relevance of Christianity in the US (translated: revising history to justify the Christianization of government).

Third, I believe that power in our government has been thrown dangerously out of balance, with authority and responsibility that should be vested in the legislature and judiciary being transferred to the executive. This is not something new, and I don't claim that "it's all Bush's fault", as some are intent on doing. It's a problem stretching back at least to Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, and perhaps much farther. I'm of the opinion that it largely springs from cowardice among the legislators: they don't want to take responsibility for the tough issues, so they wait for the courts or the president to handle them. Precedent is then set for others to handle such problems, and a little more of the legislature's authority slips away. The courts, for their part, contribute to the problem both by taking on the responsibility that Congress abdicates, and by extending protection from congressional and judicial oversight to the executive branch. Thus has our Imperial Presidency been birthed. Unfortunately, this state of affairs is the desired one for the powers that be in the GOP.

Fourth, as a civil libertarian, I am appalled at the overbearing nationalism our country is in the throes of, and the amount of erosion we are subjecting our freedoms to. USA PATRIOT, the MCA, Presidential signing statements, warrantless wiretapping, "extraordinary rendition", no-knock warrants, and the militarization of police units are just the most obvious examples of the weakening of the liberties that the Revolution was fought to win.

Oh, and I'm not too thrilled that the GOP spends so much time obsessing about butt-sex while our economy slides into ruins. If homosexuals spent a tenth as much time thinking about sodomy as Pat Robertson does, they'd never get anything done. Get yourself a hobby, Pat: collect stamps or something.

So really, I'm a man without a party (or perhaps a grackle without a nest).

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