Thursday, March 3, 2016

Where Do I Fit Politically-Speaking?

I have been spending much more time than usual watching the news lately because of the 2016 Presidential Election. I hear and see lots of anger and frustration being broadcast, but I won't get pulled into the drama. The drama being played out right now, though, has caused me to look inward and determine where I stand politically today.

As a teen, I remained consciously ignorant: I was having fun and didn't care about the Vietnam War or Watergate, other than my male friends were "over there", and I cared what happened to them. When the movie, All The President's Men came out, I realized what I missed and was embarrassed. I began to pay attention, and then became much more active and outspoken. The birth and life of my social consciousness lasted for decades, culminating in a run for local public office in my hometown of Newton, Massachusetts after attending a lecture by Geraldine Ferraro at the then Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She said that if you wanted to get involved politically, you must begin your journey at the local level. Over time, after my welcomed failed run for Ward Alderman when I realized I would have been "a lamb to the slaughter" because I am much more of a "what you see is what you get" kind of person, I changed from a leftist optimist into a centrist skeptic.

I have become convinced that when in office, Republicans and Democrats behave similarly. The rhetoric promoted during a campaign has little to do with what happens once an elected candidate gets in office. The game of politics is a much bigger system than one candidate can affect. It is a system of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours". I saw this behavior locally, and it just exists on a grander scale federally.

While watching Chicago Fire on TV the other night, this reality was played out. A good guy fireman is encouraged to run for local political office, especially after witnessing how the incumbent Selectman misused funds the fireman helped raise for victims of a local fire. During his campaign, a heavy-weight businessman wants to support him financially, ensuring his win, if he agrees to change and create laws that benefit him and his group. A local neighborhood gang leader gets him to meet with other leaders, and they will support him if he gets a street light removed from a certain corner. "I am not the candidate you want," he tells both parties. He quickly realizes that he must learn to play the game if he wants to win and affect the kind of change that will benefit "the needs of the many over the needs of the few or the one". So, while shunning the funding of the business leaders, he agrees to try to get the streetlight removed once in office because he witnesses what the drug dealers are willing to do to secure their "corner". He says he will only do this, however, if the drug dealers agree to move their location a block or so away from the front of the school, so students can feel safe to attend. He realized the existing system was bigger than he was, and required him to play along if he was to affect greater change if elected.

While watching the debates, I also realized that I don't know what each political party stands for anymore. I hear the rhetoric, but what is the party line of each? I decided to find out and see where I stand. Here is what I discovered. I found a site that did a comparison of four political parties of my choosing: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green. I will outline what I agree with in each:

Ideals and Philosophy: (D) Promotion of community and social responsibility. (R) Belief in a limited government. (L) Promotion of individual liberty in personal and economic affairs, avoidance of intervention in other nations' affairs, and free trade and migration. (G) Belief in grassroots democracy. Promotion of environmentalism, non-hierarchical participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace, and nonviolence.

Issues (support only): (D,L,G) No abortion restrictions. (R) Capital punishment. (R,L) No Civilian Gun Control [Me: Law-abiding citizens should be allowed to have guns. I do take issue with the need for automatic weapons in a civilized society though.] (L,G) Drug liberalization. (R) Immigration Restrictions. (D,L,G) Legalization of Same-Sex Marriages. (D,L,G) Limiting Private Financing of Campaigns. In truth, I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Campaigning in this day and age is very expensive. I don't see us going back to knocking on individual doors in a federal or state campaign, for example. Logistically, candidates knocking on doors is only viable at the local level. I did it and lost six pounds! (L,G) Non-interventionist foreign policy. I do not believe we should be the "world police", but I do believe we should intervene in cases of genocide, aka, Nazi Germany. That said, I also believe we should never "go it" alone. We should solicit collaborators from other countries to join us in any foreign campaign we believe is necessary for the preservation of the human majority of innocents victimized by warring aggressors. (D,G) Progressive Taxation. I believe the system of percentile taxing based on "taxable" income is a good one, but loopholes should be limited to allow fairness across the board. I believe tax credits are necessary, and tax breaks encourage good will. But, loopholes allowing those who can afford high-powered lawyers to find ways to allow some to not pay taxes is just wrong, and should be eliminated. Taxes to fund society are necessary. The question is: how much do we really need to fund our society? Who is asking that question? There is no "free ride" in my book, and nobody gets everything they want in life. Not in real life anyway. (D,G) Universal government health care. I am split on this one. I have not been the recipient of the Euro-style of universal health care, so I cannot speak to the benefits or the liabilities of that system. I do know that when a person without health insurance goes to a hospital emergency room, that person is treated anyway. Who pays the bill for this? We do in increased insurance premiums across the board. I would rather pay for what I know than what I don't know. That said, premiums and deductibles should be affordable, and good medical access should be fair for all. The cost of medical care has increased exponentially. What is the cause of this? And, I know that now that I am on Medicare, it takes longer to get a needed test than if I had the insurance policy I had when I was working. This situation is just not right.

I'll stop here, but I encourage you to go to the site I linked above. The site details each party's stance in detail and is worth the read. Find out where you stand.

Where does this leave me at the polling booth? I am a "butter over guns" gal. I believe in the power of non-violence, aka, the philosophies of Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King. But I learned how to shoot a gun, and would use it if I had to defend my home and family. I believe in accepting personal responsibility for word, action and deed. I believe everyone should invest in their own life at some level. There should be no "free ride". The cost of living should be fair and affordable for all. Equal opportunities must be available to everyone. The cost of education should be reduced and/or made affordable to provide fair and equal access for everyone who wants one, especially a higher education. Public Schools cost too much, and are no longer adequately providing a good education for our children to allow them to compete for high-quality jobs later on, or use their brain and God-given talents/skills in creative ways. Charter Schools should be privately funded with access to special government grants, like any other special interest group/organization/institution.

I believe that as a human race on this planet, we should be finding common ground to ensure we all thrive, survive and have a healthy home to pass onto future generations. There are enough resources available to take care of everyone. If those resources were fairly distributed, no one would feel deprived or lacking. Without deprivation, there would be no need for greed, selfishness or aggression. I believe in the mantra, "Think Locally, Act Globally."

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