Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I'll Take the Composite Candidate Please

Reading my friend Rynell's comments this morning was an echo of how I'm currently feeling.

I'm a bit of an odd duck politically speaking.

Okay, maybe I'm just a bit of an odd duck, but we're talking politics here, people. Let's stay on topic.

I am a registered Democrat in one of the reddest states of the nation and a county that's even more red.

But I'm not really a Democrat when it comes down to it. I'm more liberal than most Utahns (which is not very hard to do). But I'm much more conservative than most Democrats.

If I really had to align myself with a party, I'd probably be a Libertarian. But what good does that do?

I have watched the political climate over the last few years very carefully and with great fascination. The vitriol that is spewed from one side to the other is beyond shocking to me. The divisiveness of our current political system, the polarization of it all, is mind boggling.

On one side we have progressive Democrats (most of whom are kind, considerate, good people in their every day lives) who hate George W. Bush and everything Red, Right, Republican or Religious. The conversations I've had or overheard with some Democrats shock me. The anger is palpable and I wonder how I can feel a part of a party that is so hateful toward our current government. Disagreement is one thing; even anger is understandable. The borderline murderous antipathy I have witnessed is inexcusable.

Then, on the other side we have that block of the religious right who feel that their way is THE ONE RIGHT WAY for everyone in the entire country. And not only the right way, but God's way. And what does that say about anyone who disagrees? Damn to hell all of those evil, godless, baby-killing, homosexual, pot-smoking, welfare-addict-loving donkeys on the other side of the aisle. And the fear-mongering! Holy cow, the fear mongering. The fearful words used to describe every possible form of wrong -- equating with terrorists nearly everyone who does not come into lock-step with the current administration -- that I've heard just make me sad. Like the Democrats I spoke of before, these are generally good people.

On both sides are people who would never dream of being this unkind to a real human being, but who blatantly and viciously attack groups of those human beings without remorse.

What is happening to us?

Orson Scott Card wrote a fantastic book. Empire. You really ought to read it. In the epilogue he talks of this same thing. Our country is becoming increasingly polarized. Neither side seems able to see the others, those who disagree with them, as people. Rather than allowing their own ideas to be challenged and deciding whether or not they still hold true, people tend to look at anyone who disagrees with them politically as either stupid, ignorant or evil. He's right.

And I'm feeling it lately.

Because I feel like one of the bastard children of the United States of America. Even if it weren't for all the bad behavior floating around (but especially because of it) I feel ashamed to label myself as a Republican or a Democrat.

In the current "Red Team vs. Blue Team" mentality of our country, I belong to one of the most hated groups in America.

I am a moderate.

Because I spend my political life dancing back and forth between platforms and parties, between groups and ideologies, it is impossible for me keep from being hated by one group or another. Because I'm not stepping in line with the haters on one side or the other, I feel like I am drawing icy glares from every direction.

Here's what I mean:

  • I may be a Democrat, but I'm also a very religious person. So, in the eyes of many I am a fool and perhaps even worse, a dangerous fool because, as a religious person, I fall into the same category as our current president.
  • I am a feminist, but I didn't vote for the female candidate yesterday. In order for her to get my vote, I believe we must share more than two chromosomes in common. And we do, but not enough that I felt good about voting for her.
  • I am a Mormon. Even if I were not a Mormon, I feel that Mitt Romney would be a highly capable and effective president. It has very little to do with our shared beliefs. However, I'm not sure that I want Romney to be our next president. I'm not sure that our country can take another president who is so very religious. I fear that the chasm between the right and left, the religious and non-religious is in danger of growing ever wider during the presidency of another man whose faith is so prominent.
  • At the same time, as a Mormon and knowing what good people my fellow-Mormons tend to be, I do love the idea of having a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the white house.
  • I believe that until we find better ways of protecting women, better access to good health care and education, better options and more support for young women abortion should not be 100% illegal. This is especially true in cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is in danger.
  • I do, however, believe that there should be many tight restrictions on abortion. For instance: restrictions for minors, a complete ban on all late term abortions.
  • I believe that homosexual couples should have the same rights to care for one another as heterosexual couples do. The morality of homosexuality should not be decided on a national level or in a political sphere. I have many friends who are gay. I love them very much. I want them to have the rights and abilities to care for one another as couples and families. I think that civil unions are the best answer.
  • I think that all children deserve a good education. But, wait. I don't think that the public school system is the best and only way to accomplish this. The system itself has been shown to be failing many students from all different backgrounds and ages. Pumping more money into it will not satisfy this problem. If our government is going to continue to promote and fund compulsory schooling for all children, then there need to be many different options available to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. I believe that school choice is the only way that we can meet the changing educational needs that face this country. Vouchers, charter schools, public schools where teachers receive merit pay... Ideally, I think that a dollar-follows-the-student system would be the very best.
  • In light of this, you can imagine how greatly I bristle at Obama and Clinton's plans to fund earlier and earlier forms of public education.
  • And how much I dislike the No Child Left Behind laws.
  • Though I believe that certain systems are worthwhile to our nation, I recognize that what works from a systems perspective is often highly detrimental to individuals. In all possible cases, I think that individuals should be given the freedoms and abilities to chose how best to care for their own needs. In every possible way, systems should be set up to allow flexibility, independence and individual choice. If this is not possible, I think we should carefully consider whether or not the system is even worthwhile. This theory applies to many things: health care, education, social security, welfare, immigration.
  • Speaking of immigration, I think that our system needs to be fixed. It is obvious that there are a great number of people who would like to live in our country. Because of our broken and inflexible system, it is unrealistically difficult to do this legally for most people. We need to make it much, much easier for people to enter our country legally. We need to have many options for doing this. Are they just coming to work for a little while? Do they want to come and stay forever? What are the true needs?
  • And don't shoot me, but I think that we should grant current illegal aliens the opportunity to be here legally. If they desire it, they should be given the opportunity to move to the back of the line (and we need to make it a much more rapidly moving line) and become citizens. This, in my opinion, is not flouting our current laws. It is a recognition that our systems have been broken for a long, long time. We should have responded to this sooner and done a better job. Oh, and removing the draw for illegals to enter this country seems like a no-brainer. Americans who hire undocumented workers should face harsh penalties.
  • Again, don't shoot me. I think people who come here should learn English. It is to their benefit. They need to be able to get along here. I also think we should all learn Spanish or the language of the largest immigrant population in our area. Other countries require that their children learn to speak a second language in school. Learn to SPEAK it, not just be somewhat exposed to it. Why not us?
  • As for the war in Iraq. I have no idea. It's a crummy situation. There are no easy answers. I have little trust for any candidate who would like me to believe otherwise. "Get out now!" seems too easy. So does "Stay until they're stable." What if that never comes? How long is too long? How soon is too soon? Who really knows?
I could go on and on, but you can see that just this smattering of political beliefs puts me all over the political spectrum and in danger of drawing the ire of nearly every possible political group out there. No matter what I say or think, there's going to be someone who hates me (not me personally, but on principle).

I imagine that many of you, my wonderful blog friends, probably adamantly disagree with me on at least one thing I've just said. See? There's no safe place for most of us politically right now, is there?

And here's the biggest problem with all of my crazily moderate, thoughtful political beliefs: Every single one of them is subject to change at any moment.

I have learned that the "happy land of absolutes" is a veeeerrrry small place. I'm still learning and growing, reading and trying to understand things. I'm continually changing and try very hard to be always willing to be wrong. Something I believe is right today may be something I decide is wrong next year.

So there's no political party or candidate who can really ever count on me. We independents, we moderates are a dangerously unreliable bunch.

So, as this presidential election draws near I feel myself wishing I could choose from the speeches like a menu.

I'll take all of Romney's ideas on education and health care funding, a bit of McCain's plans for immigration. And could I have a side of Obama's plans for foreign relations and environmental issues. How about I have a smidge of the economic plans of all the candidates, they all have good ideas. And as for taxes, isn't Ron Paul highly in favor of a fair usage tax? I'll take that, thank you very much. And Hillary's ideas on creating opportunities for rural Americans. Brilliant. Bring it on.

Sadly, though, I only get to choose one person. Even more tragic is the way the polarization of politics is pressuring candidates to choose sides, to limit their open-mindedness and ability to learn good things from people all across the political spectrum. Why must it be red or blue, right or left? Why can't we find a way to elect the candidate who is most likely to be good, effective, pragmatic and willing to see the benefit of many possible ideas?

What about you? Have you felt this pull toward one side of the other? Do you feel like me -- a picked-on moderate without a home? What are your thoughts so far?


brightonwoman said...

Am I lazy if I just say

ditto (on all the generalities, and almost every specific)

Momo Fali said...

If you switched out the Morman stuff for Catholic stuff, then you just described ME! Amazing. I am sitting here with my mouth hanging open at the shocking similarities.

Gramama said...

I think we must be related. You sound just like me. I like the menu idea.

Emily said...

i feel like this might always be the case in politics, unfortunately. i find myself drawn to and agreeing most with Obama, although there are a few things from other candidates i prefer. hard to choose just one person, huh?

Rynell said...

This is exactly why I am registered as Unaffiliated.

I have the same (or at least similar) struggles with politics, especially the elections & candidates this year.

Anonymous said...

Sadly the parties are the ones who keep this hatred fed. In fact polling shows that most Americans agree with you. There is a website you should visit. It is called American Solutions. It claims to be the red, white, and blue movement. They have created a platform of the American people. It contains platform ideas very similar to yours, and all of them show the percentages of Americans that are for and against each idea. Most of the ideas are supported by 80% of Americans. Here is a link to the "platform"

It you'll have to scroll down to find it.

cmnacnud said...

Sorry it was not my intent to be anonymous. This is Chris and it looks like the link didn't work either, try:
then click on the "platform of the american people"

Chef Messy said...

This is so very well said.