April 17, 2009


[UPDATE: I tried to find a spectrum that I was looking for, but all I could find were circles and 3D representations. And so I settled for a graphic I wasn't entirely happy with because I was too wrapped up in what I was writing to stop and make one myself. So I changed the graphic. The original graphic to which Amritas' comment refers can be found here.]

Wife Unit writes about the role of government too: And My Answer.

I sent the following message to Mare via email the other day:

I also think that there are many issues where things are not black and white for me. I flop back and forth on abortion, for example. I am always willing to have a good debate with people who believe forcefully one way or the other because I am really still not sure what I think. I try to remember WWLD, what would libertarians do? So I unsettledly accept that the government oughtn't tell us what to do with our bodies. And for me, that extends to prostitution and drugs as well. But then, on the flip side, I think people should be able to smoke in public and also eat trans-fats

So yeah, I can debate. But on certain issues -- gun rights and taxes come readily to mind -- I feel pretty strongly about my opinions. But in other realms, I am up for discussion. Like education...I can find common ground with you and CaliValleyGirl, and we could debate the nuts and bolts.

Like Wife Unit, I have views that align me with donkeys and elephants. But that's because I don't define my views on the social scale; I define them on the responsibility scale. Social issues shake out far differently when you judge them based on personal responsibility (vs what is or isn't in the Bible, or what is or isn't traditional).

Part of the answer to Sis B's original question as to why there's a chasm between what her conservative friends believe and the government we've had is because I think the whole system is creeping leftward. However, that doesn't mean what it sounds like: I don't think the complete picture has Republicans and Democrats as the poles, where you have to fall as one or the other, or somewhere in between. Instead, the system is more like this:

And the system keeps incrementally shifting leftward while we sit fixed and wonder how in the hell we've gotten to the point where we are budgeting $3.2 billion towards "New Orleans storm protection" and $15 billion for Pell grants.

What I think it really boils down to is Whittle's Theory of Political Reduction:

I contend that there is a single litmus that does indeed separate the nation and the world into two opposing camps, and that when you examine where people will fall on the countless issues that affect our society, this alone is the indicator that will tell you how they will respond.

The indicator is Responsibility.

To the right of the spectrum is less government involvement / more individual responsibility; to the left is more government involvement / more shared responsibility. That's the It Takes a Village mentality. That's Obama's "be your brother's keeper" idea. That's the side of the spectrum I want to stop creeping towards.

To come full circle, I completely respect people who are pro-life because they believe the baby is already a human being endowed with the inalienable right to life. I also completely respect people who believe that the government has no business telling people what they should do medically or with their own bodies (a point I can also understand when debating euthanasia). I have a hard time figuring out which right I find more valid, to be honest. I struggle to not be a hypocrite and to be consistent in my viewpoints. So what I cannot stand are, say, Democrats who think the government has no right to tell them they can't have an abortion with their own body, but every right to stop other people from smoking because the second-hand smoke might hurt their bodies. I find that remarkably inconsistent and frustrating. I also, personally, find it inconsistent to say that government should decree that only men and women should marry, but that government should butt out of everything else. And I really don't understand when some Democrats claim that they want less government meddling than I do, or that they are in fact the party of "government butting out."

But we are all inconsistent beings. I try very hard to be mindful of when my opinions are conflicting and be honest about the fact that I am still working things out. Trying to grok, if you will. And I self-pigeonhole as a Republican because, as I said before, I am trying to "take the word back." Plus, it's how I vote, because, while they are far from perfect, I believe they are closer to me on the responsibility / government meddling scale than Democrats are.

But like Wife Unit, I don't caricature easily, I don't think.

Posted by: Sarah at 11:19 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 798 words, total size 6 kb.

1 I am puzzled by the graphic. It seems to indicate that anarchism is the bridge between socialism and Communism on the one hand and libertarianism and fascism (which is paired with ... monarchy!?) on the other. Perhaps fascism and monarchy are paired because they appeal to tradition unlike Communist revolutionaries, but that doesn't explain why libertarianism is on the same side as them. Does a super-libertarian become an anarchist before becoming ... a Nazi or a royalist? Does a super-socialist become an anarchist before becoming a Communist? I see political positions in terms of a circle with anarchism joining both ends. Super-libertarians reject government and become anarchists. In an anarchic society, the vacuum of power is quickly filled by thugs ... not unlike Communists and fascists who are variants on a totalitarian theme. More here: Can’t you see past the guff and recognize the essence? One country is dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the collective is all. The individual held as evil, the mass—as God. No motive and no virtue permitted—except that of service to the proletariat. That’s one version [communism]. Here’s another. A country dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the State is all. The individual held as evil, the race—as God. No motive and no virtue permitted—except that of service to the race [fascism]. Am I raving or is this the cold reality of two continents already? Watch the pincer movement. If you’re sick of one version, we push you into the other. We get you coming and going. We’ve closed the doors. We’ve fixed the coin. Heads—collectivism, and tails—collectivism. Fight the doctrine which slaughters the individual with a doctrine which slaughters the individual. Give up your soul to a council—or give it up to a leader. But give it up, give it up, give it up. My technique . . . . Offer poison as food and poison as antidote.

Posted by: Amritas at April 17, 2009 12:46 PM (+nV09)

2 second attempt, darn comments! I think, rather than a scale that goes from left to right (and presumably circles around), the scale more resembles a grid with four quadrants. The truth is that in practice, fascism isn't very different from socialism/communism (I have to pair them, because there's never been true communism, just very strict socialism). The difference lies only in the ideologies that lead there. The Nazis had death camps, work camps, and penalized people who did not follow their ideal. They also had a large amount of social programs and government intrusion into life. And then we have the USSR, with its gulags and government ordered famines - its social programs (that didn't work) and so on. Where's the difference in practice? There really isn't much of one. I'm with you Sarah - I don't understand it when people try to pigeonhole me into something I'm not. I don't even self-identify Republican. I'm ready for DADT to be dropped responsibly. I am very pro-life because I see a baby as a person from the moment it is conceived, but I also think that someone's rights to harm themselves stop when they affect my body - thus my anti-cigarette in enclosed public spaces stance and my legalize some drugs stance. I also, as a practicing Catholic, don't think the government should be dictating the facts of marriage to anyone. I don't think the government's role should go beyond giving a civil union a tax break. If I want to be married, I'll go to church and get married. But that's an entirely separate issue than the government dictating marriage. I think responsibility is the best way to put it. I try not to be a hypocrite, I really do. But I expect the same of others. I actually do think that it takes a village - as much as some people might stone me for that. But the village it takes is a WILLING one, not one that is forced into something by government decree. AFG and I give a larger percentage of our income every year to charity than the Obamas do (although granted it works out to be much less in dollar amounts, still it also makes a bigger dent in our standard of living) because when I see someone that truly needs help I want to help them. That's the thing, though. It needs to be MY CHOICE. There are people I don't want to help, and I resent being forced to. Ditto with my children - I'm all for community responsibility. In fact, one of the notes I most treasure is one from you, Sarah, about how you appreciated that we "co-parent" when we're together. And I was reminded of it two weekends ago when we had the hotel trouble and wifeunit stepped up to help with one of my kids. I love my village. I need my village. But they are my village BY CHOICE. And it is that choice that I think we need to guard so much.

Posted by: airforcewife at April 17, 2009 03:22 PM (Fb2PC)

3 AFW -- I agree with you and I didn't mean to sound like I don't want a WILLING village. I surely do. That's the gulch idea for me. Imagine if we all lived in a neighborhood together and we CHOOSE to entrust each other with our kids and lives. I think that'd be great. What I object to is feeling like I am constantly being told that I have to do things For The Greater Good: I have to pay taxes to make sure that no child is left behind and everyone has health care and "a living wage." I want to use my money to help people I think are worthy of it, who deserve a small leg up when life gets rough...instead of being forced to send money to Washington to get distributed to any old person. But it's a well-established fact that I'm a big meanie

Posted by: Sarah at April 17, 2009 03:52 PM (TWet1)

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