Well, the election of 2012 is over. I’m very hesitant to call it the most important election, or pivotal or whatever grand pronouncement you may have heard in the last six months. It was an election, not the most in any category that one could conceive; not the most contentious (for my money 1800, 1824, 1860, 1876, 2000), nor mean-spirited (1800 and 1860 again, 1928, 2000) nor vital to the republic (1864, nothing else compares). Come to think of it, it was the biggest, grandest in one sorry aspect, the amount of money spent. I would, however, like do a little research and see if, all values being equal, it truly was the most expensive campaign ever.
I realize I’m late, as I usually am, in commenting on a current event. It’s funny the web administrator for Chicago Now sent out a message about how important it was to our blogs to write, comment, follow the election. Considering this post will be on the home blog, I’m failing on all counts I suppose. I’m just not an immediate wrap up kind of guy. I wouldn’t make it as a journalist truly. I need a little time to digest, to think about what has just happened. Sometimes, admittedly, I wait too long and the thoughts disappear like so much pixie dust but then I remember that I do this for fun not for profit (thank god for that, lest I be very poor indeed).
So what am I doing? Good question, glad you asked. This is my quixotic attempt at a bipartisan post, discussing my views on certain things, and it will in all probability fail miserably in providing any real results. I was of course partially inspired by the election and all the hullaballoo but also from a Facebook discussion that I had with the brother of a FB friend and the few people who chimed in along the way. It didn’t devolve into name-calling or potshots, but at least from where I was sitting a genuine discussion of opposing viewpoints, much like the discussions I lamented the loss of a few posts back.
By way of starting, if you know me at all, you know that I’m a left leaning kind of guy. In Europe I’d be pretty mainstream, if not a little conservative but here in the USA I’m somewhere in league with Marx, the Muslim Brotherhood and radical feminists. All things considered, my political description on Facebook still holds true, Socialist Libertarian. Being a SoLib is best summed up this way: I don’t mind paying for shit just leave me the fuck alone.
Basically, I don’t feel like paying taxes is a form of slavery, tyranny or dictatorship. I figure certain things, a lot of things, cost money. Police, firemen, teachers, roads, parks, snow removal, national defense, postal service, disaster relief, and on and on all seem worthy of my hard-earned dollars. Do I think some of those things, and many other things, are run perfectly, no. Just because I believe taxes are necessary, doesn’t mean I love big government and hate liberty either. And what is big government anyway? We are a vast nation with a very large population. The government described by some conservatives would be on a scale of the one that held sway in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I sincerely doubt a government from 1900 would work well in 2012.
What I see and hear from conservatives who don’t shout about conspiracy theories and birth certificates is an almost unquestioning faith in business, all business. I’ll be honest I have a very strong distrust of big business, not small business, mind. I’m sure there are some folks who want to nationalize all corporations and end corporatism as we know it, but I don’t know any of them. I am not in favor, however, of giving big business free reign over such things as health and safety of workers, safety and health standards for products and insurance of fair market practices. The past record of big businesses regarding these issues is poor to say the least. Again a return to a government-business relationship model that mirrors that of the turn of the century is not at all attractive to me.
The biggest difference I see with many right leaning folks and me, however, is how money is spent in aiding others or employing others. When looking at Mitt Romney’s 47% remark, he lumps in everyone who gets anything from the government. I think right off the top soldiers and veterans should not be considered takers. If a person serves the country, they get life-long benefits from us. Also those that rely on Medicare and Medicaid, by and large the elderly and disabled should be able to get benefits without being called names. I guess it’s that damn Christian message of taking care of the least of our brothers that makes me feel that way. I am not delusional about this either. It is a very costly endeavor. So there will need to be taxes. Also, since our government supports the free market system to such a great measure, why shouldn’t those that benefit from that support the most pay the most in taxes? It seems fair.
I guess it is also a matter of framing the discussion and language choice. Giving tax breaks to large corporations is another form of government subsidy, or directly subsidizing and industry like agriculture is a part of spending that is just as much as a gift as food stamps and unemployment checks are. This is where, once upon a time it seemed, genuine debate could ensue as well. I concede that some programs and projects I like are not cost effective the other guy admits that some of their ideas are not going to get funded and we move forward toward a more balanced budget. Unfortunately, the current paradigm is of no compromise; that working together, with someone you might, egad, disagree with is somehow a sign of weakness.
I’ll admit as well I’m probably a bit out there regarding some government spending. I like living in a nation that spends on the arts, doesn’t have to be much, but I feel strongly that culture is a part of a national and local landscape so the upkeep of national treasures and funding new projects is essential to my governmental view. I get it if we disagree. I mean, realistically, how many battlefields need to be preserved? Or how many roadside historical markers need to be put up? (I love those damn things).
As far as the other side of my political philosophy the “leave me the fuck alone” portion, it pretty much means I don’t want the government telling me on a personal level what I can and cannot do, within reason. I find it particularly hypocritical of the vocal Republicans that they are very afraid of big government, afraid that their liberty is going to be taken away (do seat belts really do that as I’ve seen some argue?) but making women submit to an ultrasound isn’t taking someone’s liberty away? Which is why by most definitions, I’m pro-choice. To be honest, I’m really not pro-choice, as in I think abortions are in and of themselves good, but to borrow from my conservative friends, I don’t support government intrusion. And to take it a step further, I am genuinely frightened of how the government would enforce a ban on abortion. Would they monitor all pregnant women to the end of their term? Would they arrest a woman and hold her until the baby is born if she attempted an abortion? No thanks, keep abortion safe and legal though I would never recommend such thing to a friend or my daughter. You may recommend something else or decide something else and I’m much more comfortable with that than the government forcing the decision upon us. Also I wish my choice leaning friends would remember that even with a very conservative Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade has not been overturned. The court, as it has been for its history, very much tied to its precedents and it takes a lot for a current court to reverse course. Finally, after the election a Republican president when have they gone after abortion rights? The candidates talk a great deal about it during a campaign, but truthfully, how hard have they gone after the issue? Kind of like Obama and immigration the first time around.
I’m also not a fan of the government tell me who I can and cannot marry. Again, leave me the fuck alone. What is particularly hilarious about the “defense” of marriage and the “sanctity” of marriage is that most Protestant denominations do not even consider marriage a sacrament. An ordinance or covenant with God, sure, but not a sacred rite of passage within one’s particular faith. Further, I have yet to see any real evidence that my marriage is somehow lessened or undermined by the union of two women or two men. Also, marriage is an act entered into by two consenting adults so the argument that this will lead to bestiality or whatever else can be dreamed up is patently false. A dog or a goat can’t consent, isn’t an equal partner and well, just don’t be stupid.
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of guns and I wonder what exactly the founding fathers meant by “Well Regulated Militia” but I also think we’ve got plenty of gun laws on the books and pretty much consider the debate over. We can own guns for recreation, protection, survival, what have you. What I would like gun advocates to acknowledge, beyond the fact that bad people will sometimes get guns, is that the price of our freedom to bear arms is an occasional tragedy. It isn’t nice or pretty, but it’s true. The relative ease to get guns will result in people who shouldn’t have said guns getting guns. It isn’t the guns fault (which is just a silly thing to say) nor is it law-abiding gun-owners fault, but being in a free society sometimes means those freedoms get abused. Unfortunately when the freedom to own a gun is abused people wind up dead. So, no one is coming for the guns, please stop acting like an arsenal round-up is going to happen every time a Democrat is elected.
You might not believe it, but I really don’t care what your local community teaches children. I think, short of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, that local school districts can decide what they teach to students, a slightly larger aspect of leave me the fuck alone. So, if you want to teach your kids that Jesus rode a dinosaur, go right ahead. I just won’t live there. Do me favor, however, don’t tell me what my community has to teach.
I’ve got a feeling that most folks that agree with me, still agree with me. Those that didn’t still don’t, and that is ok. I like pluralism. I get the strong feeling that a lot of people don’t. They would rather have a nation that is in complete agreement with their ideas. Not only has that never existed, just imagine how boring it would be if it did.