A few pieces I’ve written this week have led to some rather startling accusations against me. It occurred to me that I haven’t done a good enough job spelling out just where I stand on a lot of things. I figured I better pull it all together for some of my detractors, who have some rather odd perceptions about me.
I am not:
A Republican. I have considered myself an independent since I first registered to vote in 1985. I spent four years as a registered Democrat after I forgot to unenroll after the 2000 primary and was too lazy to correct it, but I’ve never been a Republican for more than a few minutes at a time. I vote in whichever primary is the more “interesting” each time, and for the candidate I agree with most strongly. In 2000, I voted for Bill Bradley; in 2004, for Joe Lieberman. I’ve never given a penny to any political party or candidate, nor worked for any campaign. I’ve put bumper stickers on my car, but that’s it.
A Conservative. I consider myself a “militant moderate.” I dislike and distrust the extremes of both sides. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have changed much, but the left has moved farther away from me. My position has, by default, moved to the conservative side as the left’s migration has redefined the center as being more left than before. I have also come to the conclusion that while both the left and the right have their nutcases, the right-wingers are less dangerous, as they are easier to check and rein in. They tend to marginalize themselves quite nicely, while the Left tends to lionize theirs. Pat Buchanan has no shot of ever being elected Republican National Committee Chairman, unlike Howard Dean.
A Christian. I was raised Methodist, but I long ago reached the conclusion that I just don’t have the capacity for sincere religious faith. I half-jokingly call myself a “born-again agnostic.” I have a great deal of Christian friends, and have tremendous respect and affection for them (colored with a bit of envy). I also spent a considerable amount of time exposed to Judaism, and developed a lot of respect for their beliefs and traditions, but never embraced either.
A libertarian. Note the non-capitalized “l.” I don’t belong to the Libertarian Party, and think that some of their antics are just plain stupid. They once held a protest where they refused to show their ID before boarding an airplane, and I thought they were idiots. I agree with the statement “that which governs least, governs best,” and that the most inefficient, expensive, and cumbersome way to do almost anything is to have the government do it. But I think that there are certain tasks that are incumbent upon the government to perform, and assailing those functions is just plain stupid.
An independent. I spend a lot of time assailing folks on the left, but that’s because their words and deeds are so offensive to my libertarian principles. I have also slammed Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and others. I think Bill O’Reilly is a self-aggrandizing blowhard. I think that Ronald Reagan, for all his accomplishments, made at least two major blunders that we are still paying for today, in his handling of the Marines in Beirut and the 1986 Immigration Reform. I think George W. Bush has made some very bad missteps, such as the Harriet Myers nomination, his failure on Social Security Reform, and his refusal to take border security and illegal aliens as serious threats.
A libertine. I have big problems with so-called “victimless crimes.” There are a huge number of serious problems out there, and wasting scarce law enforcement resources on cases where there is no complaining individual is stupid. I also have no problem what two or more consenting adults do in private.
A gay marriage supporter. I think that the institution of marriage would be strengthened by opening it up to more people who sincerely want to marry. I just put my support for that below my support for working within the system, of changing the law instead of simply declaring it to mean whatever a couple of people say it means. Not only does that principle violate my belief in working within the system, it is just begging for a public backlash where people who oppose the tactics (like myself) find themselves alongside those who oppose the idea of gay marriage to reinforce the supremacy of the democratic system.
A pragmatist. I understand that my ideal notions simply will never work. I am fully aware that “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” and am willing to compromise along the way towards getting what I consider ideal. Demanding “everything or nothing” most often gets you nothing. “Give me a little now, and we’ll talk more later,” in my opinion and experience, gets more done. In the example of gay marriage, starting out with civil unions that grant most of the privileges of marriage without the actual name would be a tremendous stride forward, and would most likely make the introduction of “marriage” a lot easier, after a few years of experience that it will not lead to rains of fire, dogs and cats sleeping together, and the sun rising in the west after all.
So, please keep calling me a Republican Fundie Shill, and all the other things I’ve been tagged with. I just got my bi-weakly paycheck from The Day Job, and I need a good laugh.
(Update: in the comments below, three people all decided to criticize me. Well, I’m not so sure about that. After all, “viet vet,” “jerzey girl,” and “maggysturn” all posted their comments from the same AOL IP within 15 minutes of each other. In fact, that IP has posted consistently critical comments under the names “nick,” “rachel,” “jesus,” “maggie,” bobbi pin”, “allright,” “bethright,” “candycane,” “pete,” “babs b,” “bennito,” “knight,” “babsbush,” “carmine,” “georgeisamonkeyboy,” “antiparty,” “nobushfan,” “darleenisagopshill,” “vietvet,” and “nancyreagan” since February — some times even supporting each other’s arguments. I think someone is running around barefoot, having emptied his sock drawer to make more and more puppets.)