Democrat or Republican?
By Steve Gillman
I am sometimes asked if I am a Democrat or Republican. It
is difficult to know where to begin in answering such a question,
although the obvious comes to mind: no. That is perhaps the answer
least expected, but the most appropriate since I have no interest
in being a part of either political party (or any political group
for that matter).
The question itself demonstrates how well we conform to the
expected in this country (in this world). It is so easily assumed
that one must be one or the other of the "accepted"
political parties. In fact, if you do tell the questioner that
you are neither, they usually have one of two follow-up questions:
Which party are you closest to?
Which party do you belong to then?
The first again assumes that only these two organizations
are important. The second at least acknowledges that there are
other political parties in the country, but assumes that you
must belong to one of them. All of these assumptions are unnecessary
and in my case false.
It seems reasonable to assume that I must be closer in my
views to either the Democrats or Republicans, but does that have
to be true? If I differ from both on many important issues, how
do I determine which one I am "closer" to? I don't
think government should have anything to do with marriage, for
example, gay or straight. I can't imagine why anyone cares what
consenting individuals do in private, nor can I imagine why anyone
should need the permission of a government to be married or not.
On the other and, I don't agree that we should use the point
of a gun (government power) to force people who own companies
to pay give benefits to any particular group, whether gayly married
or single or polygamous Mormons. Is that closer to the views
of Republicans or Democrats?
I am in favor of freedom, meaning I generally oppose the use
of force to get what I want from others, or their use of it to
get what they want from me. On the other hand, when survival
is at stake, that is a higher value than the rights of whomever
we have to take money from to provide for that survival. that's
why I am in favor of limited welfare when it is truly needed.
Republicans will sometimes mistake me for one of them because
I favor less government redistribution of money in society, but
then they favor taking money from poor workers to pay for their
own middle class children's pell grants and elementary school
education. Democrats will sometimes mistake me for one of them
because I am in favor of respecting all people's rights, including
their right to say what they will. But those same Democrats want
to pass "hate laws" to penalize a person not just for
violating a someone's rights, but also for believing and saying
Libertarians often think I am one of them, since I do believe
in allowing consenting adults to do what they like, including
smoking whatever plants they like. I favor decriminalizing most
drugs, but then I also can see merit in the argument that some
substances are so poisonous that to sell them for consumption
is fraud, since a rational person wouldn't buy them if they really
knew what they were getting for their money. And unlike many
libertarians, I think children have limited experience and maturity,
and so can't be treated as adults. I accept the complexity of
issues like this, and recognize that an arbitrary "age of
consent" may be the best we can do, even if that means restricting
the freedom an adult in the body of a fifteen-year-old, or allowing
freedom to a twenty-one-year-old infant.
Because of my understanding of economics and human nature
I think the ideas of the communist party are flawed, and that
every socialist experiment is destined to fail in its aims -
if it can even define those in some rational way. On the other
hand, I can easily see the truth in the arguments against many
of the excesses of what we call capitalism (but then I don't
necessarily agree that what we have is anything near capitalism
or free markets).
How do I feel about the wealthy? They're easily and often
overtaxed in many ways, resulting in the lowering of everyone's
standard of living due to the damage caused to the economy. On
the other hand, many wealthy people use every dishonest trick
in the book to transfer money from the poor and middle class
to themselves. Corporate welfare surpasses regular welfare in
terms of total wealth redistribution - in this case in the direction
from middle class to rich. In a fair society wealth might be
an indication of good character, but the temptation and tendency
to use government against others for their purposes is what makes
the wealthy suspect in current times. We should be entirely free
to get rich fairly. Is this closer to the views of Democrats
or Republicans? I have no political label for myself, and that's
probably the way it will be for life.