Please pardon my reflection

The other day I overheard a conversation about politics, and it led to some self-reflection. Why am I a partisan hack? Why do I so often use this space to spew left leaning politics?

Here’s why.

1. As I see it, the Democratic party is the party of equal rights, and the government’s essential role in protecting those rights.
This may turn out to be a bit of an oversimplification, but in general I see the Democratic Party as the party of the civil rights movement, as the party of EQUAL rights for all people. People often speak out against proposed legislation protecting the rights of “gays and lesbians” – such as the right not to be fired simply due to their sexual preference. Many of these folks decry “special rights” for “gays and lesbians.” Well, my dad had this saying that he used to use when he was really mad (which wasn’t very often), and I’m going to use it here, that’s a bunch of horseshit. Special rights implies that these are rights that are not afforded to other people. Well, name me one job where you are disqualified because you are in a committed heterosexual relationship. (Don’t even talk about Catholic priests, I’m not going there in this entry.) Can’t name one? Then don’t talk to me about “special rights.” Let me spell it for you: e-q-u-a-l r-i-g-h-t-s. That’s when all people are afforded the same rights. The Democratic party isn’t exactly burning up the path to run down this particular issue either, but I truly believe they are closer to the right track, in general, that the other party.

Oh, and did I mention the civil rights movement? Do you remember the southern Democrats that switched parties in the ’60s in response to civil rights? Why would they switch to the Republican Party if their former party was championing civil rights? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I’ve heard it suggested that the Democratic Party hasn’t done anything significant for minorities since civil rights, and I’ll admit that they may have a point. However, appointing Colin Powell as secretary of state and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court is not exactly a sign that the Republican Party has seen the light. Clarence Thomas may be more conservative that 99 percent of white America. No, I can’t imagine why a Republican president would want to appoint him. Colin Powell was just a no brainier. As popular as he was after the Gulf War, it would have been stupid not to appoint him to a prominent post. If he had been a Democrat, do you really think he would not have gotten a similar post in a Democratic administration? (Say, Clinton’s?) Being politically prudent does not make you a trail blazer in equal rights, it just means you’re good at what you do. Let’s face it, Bush did not appoint another Thurgood Marshall.

2. The Republican Party is the party of the free-market, while the Democratic Party is the party of “big government.”
Call me crazy, but I trust the freely elected, democratic (note the little ‘d’) government further than I trust big business. If flammable water supplies, opaque air, and cars without seatbelts taught us anything, it taught us that the free market does not have our long term interests at heart. Government regulation, while out of control at times, tends to save us from ourselves. As much as we hate to spend money, sometimes it’s not O.K. for our contractors to use the cheapest materials and methods available. Does anyone remember the building scandal that Hurricane Andrew unearthed? As much as we hate having to run down to a special center to dump our used motor oil, it sure beats having to drink it when it turns up in our water. It is a sad commentary on human nature, but sometimes we do need to be regulated.

But does this contradict my previous statement regarding equal rights? Doesn’t regulation lead to less liberty? I’ll put it simply, no and yes, respectively. Since I’m advocating no one having the right to dump motor oil out back, regulation does not have to have an impact EQUAL rights. Obviously it impacts our liberty, but there are plenty of liberties we don’t allow ourselves. For example, no one has the right to beat another to a bloody pulp either.

While the government may be a monopoly, we as the electorate have the ultimate veto power. If they do something we don’t like, with sufficient outrage we can vote the bastards out. But shouldn’t this work with big business too? If we don’t like what a company does, we could just stop buying their products right? Sure. We’ll all get mad at Microsoft and stop buying computers. No, I know; we’ll all get mad at big oil and stop driving cars, riding buses, flying in planes, or using the electricity produced by petroleum or gas based generators.

Are you beginning to see my point?

3. As a person of faith, I believe in the separation of church and state.
I think a government which eschews religious entanglement prompts a more faithful, vibrant and diverse people than a theocracy. I am a product of the public school system. I received no instruction on creationism, I was not lead in prayer, and I did not take Romans as an elective in public schools. And yet, somehow I learned about God. There are probably a lot of people out in the Bible belt that would feel that I did not get the proper instruction about God – but then that’s exactly why I believe in the separation of church and state.

There you have it. No one asked for it and I’m confident that few want it; but at least it gave me the opportunity to let off a little steam. The great benefit of debating myself is that I rarely loose.