Thursday, August 26, 2010

The main reason I don't pick a side, or at least not a party

I do not affiliate myself with any party, I have voted Democrat and Republican over the years. This is because of the pattern of one party (or side) criticizing the other for basically doing the same sort of thing their party (or side) side once did. One immediate example (which I've mentioned in other posts) is conservatives talking about the debt yet not taking a strong stand on military waste, lest they be deemed unpatriotic. On the other side Obama has been very disappointing on some things (not closing Gitmo, or the ineptitude and borderline deception of his administration's response to the BP oil leak situation as revealed in the recent Rolling Stone article) that his party would have reamed Bush for.

Another symptom of this mindset is when those on the right or left play the victim card as if whatever administration is in power is trying to single them out. A big example of this a little while back was the outcry about the Homeland Security report on right wing extremism, which led to tons of conservatives complaining that they would be labeled threats because of their bumper stickers. The thing that no one seemed to report was that Homeland Security had also put out a report on left wing extremism and cyber attacks.

Party affiliation seems to be less about rights and liberty for all and more about reaping spoils for whatever specific segments of people your party counts as it's base and then attempting to pass laws to screw over those that aren't part of your base. Whether these laws are about guns, drugs, gay rights, or any number of issues.


  1. I agree. There isn't much appeal to either party's platform taken en bloc. The sad part is that, for whatever reason, the public actually falls for this charade. In fact, we enable this cycle to the point that no politician (or precious few, anyway) can do otherwise without losing power. I don't know what to attribute this naivete to, nor can I really say whether this has always been the case. Ignorance (of other people) is bliss, if you're a manipulative powermonger. And who isn't?

    Although this is not quite what you're talking about, it's in the same vein; you probably already saw it. Any comments, Linton?

  2. I disagree. Like it or not, we live in a two-party democracy. It's like choosing a church or denomination: I may not agree with everything all the time, but it's a human need to align myself with people of similar ideology and thought.

    No political party is perfect. No one set of thought is perfect for all people.

    I don't think it's necessarily true that people just blindly follow one party; each party has members of diverse backgrounds and beliefs that have joined for any number of personal reasons.

    Most people who call themselves "independent" have to do that because their issues conflict with some platform their preferred party has taken. I say big deal. Choose a party and accept that they won't see eye-to-eye with you on everything. I think this is symptomatic of a generation of people unwilling to commit---to anything---because committment makes us uncomfortable.

  3. I don't know about that, copilot. Obviously, you are right that we live in a two-party democracy.. I also agree that one does not have to agree with the party platform on all points to be in a party. I am not sure at all about your contention that there is a noncommittal generation out there, but you might possibly have a point there as well.

    However, you point out that there's "a human need to align... with people of similar ideology and thought." I think you make an incorrect assumption that independents are not aligning with a group that is similar because of one or two little points of disagreement. While such people undoubtedly exist, I do not believe that this is typically the case. Certainly, at least, it is not always the case. There are some of us for whom there is not a party that even represents similar ideology and thought. The dichotomy of our political system is false... the homogeneity of the "conservative" and "liberal" viewpoints are, at least to some extent, the result of this two-party system itself rather than its cause. I am not advocating a multiple party system or anything, but I think it is useful to realize that a considerable variety of opinion-sets is tenable (although not necessarily common). For example, the prototypical Southern Christian Republican is against abortion, gay marriage, high federal social and structural spending, gun control, and progressive social and scientific policies in general and is in favor generally of a strong military. But it would be a perfectly reasonable Christian who is against abortion and gay marriage yet also against gun control and in favor of relatively high federal spending and generally progressive social but not scientific policies. Should such a person arbitrarily describe him/herself as a Republican or a Democrat? Why? In my opinion, this would be so inaccurate as to render the label meaningless. Such a person might be a thoughtful, concerned American citizen. This does not represent a lack of commitment to the country or to anything except a party.

  4. I receive your points. It is true that the label would be meaningless if the majority of views held by an individual were contrary to the movement of the party. That is why one should choose the party that most aligns with their political views.

    I understand your reference to the person who has vastly different views along the spectrum as to not feel aligned with any party. But I'm skeptical that such a person can stick to those views for very long, as they will undoubtedly conflict with each other at some point in time. I've never understood how someone can be against abortion and for unrestricted gun rights, or the death penalty... how about a blog post on that, Linton?

  5. I understand your skepticism. It seems that you and I fundamentally disagree about the nature of this whole business. If I understand you correctly, you would contend that there are really two "sets" of compatible opinions (with, I am sure, a few minor exceptions) that could be labelled 'conservative' and 'liberal'. My contention, which I tried to explain above but may not have communicated, is that there are (many) more than 2. I see what you mean about the abortion/gun/death penalty thing, but I could see how a man could be for or against any of those things depending on his view of the roles of the justice system, personal liberty, and the significance of fetal life in comparison to life in general, etc.
    But, as you imply, I may be theorizing too much. I can say from personal experience that I have many opinions (ultimately rooted in my own value system and understanding) that do not align me with any political party that I am aware of. There are conflicts, I am sure, and I will no doubt change my mind on many issues, but the new viewpoints will also have conflicts built into them... opining is ultimately a matter of resolving these conflicts through logic based on a value system.

    I could be completely misunderstanding you, as well. I would also enjoy a blog post on that topic, though.