Archive for September, 2012


Swing Voters

I’ve seen a surprising trend in election coverage over this week… swing voter bashing.

 

I’ve seen swing, or independent voters, characterized as ideological idiots, fickle, apathetic, clueless, uneducated, and various other not so flattering terms from both left and right leaning media outlets. Perhaps I am slightly sensitive to this due to the fact that ideologically I am a Libertarian, but characterizing someone who doesn’t have a strong party allegiance as dumb, fickle, or an otherwise uninformed person isn’t quite fair.

 

Personally I have a degree in Political Science, I tend to keep up on political news, and heck now I even write a blog about current events. I am far from uninformed, uneducated, or fickle. Still I do not believe that either party has a platform that I can wholeheartedly agree with. In fact BOTH parties have things that I quite violently disagree with, and I honestly believe that there are quite a few people out there just like me. These people aren’t picking a candidate based on the concept of the “lesser of two evils” out of ignorance, but instead out of pure frustration with the system that only comes from knowing it TOO well.

 

Saying Washington is broken seems to be in vogue for both parties right now, but it is fairly accurate. However I think there are a growing number of independent voters who blame the parties themselves as well as partisan politics for this brokenness. The concept that ONE party can be on the “good” or “right” side of EVERY issue breeds the intolerance for active, academic political discourse that plagues our government. Even the concept of there being a “good” or “right” side to every issue adds to the vitriol that has poisoned the political environment of our country.

 

Both political parties would do well to realize that there is a base of voters out there like me, who realize undying allegiance to a party that can in it’s very nature never completely represent them  is unrealistic and dangerous. I will cast my vote in November for the candidate and by proxy for the party that I think will protect my liberty, and represent me on the issues I care about most. I’m sure neither of them will do it well enough to earn my undying commitment, but honestly I don’t expect them to. There are a lot of people out there in the exact same boat and me and that is ok, but I’d really like it if I wouldn’t have to be insulted by the media over it.

 

 

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Religion and Tolerance- Part II

Over the weekend the unrest across the globe has not weakened, and rather continues to grow.  My heart truly breaks as I hear people spout ignorant and hateful words blaming the entire groups of people who have nothing to do with what is going on.

 

I am horrified to see that the ignorance and misplaced hatred quite clearly goes both ways. The violent groups are taking out the anger and hatred caused by a few lunatics and turning it toward the larger east target of the US as a whole. Meanwhile so many people here are taking out their anger and frustration on Islam and the region as a whole.

 

I have no real ideas on how we can stop this vicious cycle, all I know that my thoughts and prayers will continue to hope for peoples hearts and minds to be opened.

 

I found this opinion piece to be quite interesting. Here are some key points that stuck out to me:

“The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.”

“The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.”

Religion and Tolerance

I have been deeply saddened by some of the comments that I have read responding to the rising tension in so many countries that seems to have been started by one hateful film. Comments from friends, political candidates and the media have all fueled the flames of hate and misunderstanding.

I pray that we can come out of this stronger and show that we will not be dragged into blaming all members of a faith for the actions of a misguided few. I pray that we can prove that those who would paint our nation as hateful and intolerant in order to justify violence are quite decidedly wrong. We must show that we are a nation of tolerance and acceptance for all people who embrace liberty and peace no matter what God they pray to or what building they do it in.

Here are some remarks that Secretary Clinton made that felt were quite appropriate, and that I desperately hope will continue to be true:

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries…Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer…They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue…But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future,”

A Somber Anniversary

Yesterday as we mourned the events of 11 years ago on the other side of the world terrorists again took the lives of Americans. While the scope of the attack can in no way be compared to that of the attacks years ago on our own soil, again I find myself shocked and saddened by what the world has come to.

As I read more information about what happened in Libya last night, I find my emotions and thoughts keep getting jumbled. For the time being here are some general thoughts and feelings about it now:

*This was a terrorist act, from extremist groups, the general public and government of Libya seem to be condemning the act. The US should not, and can not focus the anger toward the country nor the general Islamic public who did not have any part in this.

*It is truly tragic that a group of US Diplomats who worked so hard to bring freedom and peace to this country died while serving. Their lives of service should be remembered and honored.

*Our global community and great blessing that the internet can be is a dual edged sword. It is quite amazing and horrifying that a few people could create a video that would cause a ripple effect that would end up causing people who had nothing to do with it to lose their lives.

*Uncle Ben from Spiderman was right, “with great power comes great responsibility”. We now have the ability as individuals with very little investment to reach a global audience, and no standards to which we have to be held.  From the name of a teddy bear, swimsuit models, and even opinion documentaries it appears we are now anything could ignite a culture war. Can we really hold anyone accountable for how someone who has a completely different world view might interpret what they are saying or how they are saying it? Should we ever consider censorship? Should we censor the masses to prevent a few (in some cases arguable insane) people from getting upset to the degree of committing violence?

*Honestly the some of the comments and Facebook statuses I have read today make my head and heart hurt. We should be angry, but we must be careful who we focus that anger on, and how we let it effect the big picture. Hate will breed hate,  but I would like to think that we can rise above some of it. We must learn that we can not respond to ignorant hateful acts like this with more ignorance and hate or the situation will only become worse.

Remember

“But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day and to whom it happened. We will remember the moment the news came, where we were and what we were doing.”
– President George W. Bush

Every year on this date I struggle to come to terms with how it changed not only my life but how it shaped the country today. Every year I struggle to write something down to come to some sort of closure, come to some sort of understanding, and I am beginning to learn that I may never be able to do so. I may come up with more to say today or some other day, but I think I know deep down, that it will never truly make sense to me. Those of us who watched that day in fear and horror will forever have a hole in our hearts.

I hope we remember the unity we felt, and how we came together in the wake of tragedy. I hope that someday when my children learn about that day I can tell them that while we will never forget the lives lost, we will also never forget that our country is so much greater when we stand together.

 

Founding Father

I’m currently dwelling on an few issues that I’ll probably post about shortly, but in the mean time I was drawn to some James Madison quotes that I love. Sometimes I think this man had a clearer picture of the strengths, weaknesses, and current problems of our government than our current politicians.

 

“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes. ”

 

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”

 

“Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience, which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection for which the public faith is pledged by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.”

 

“The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

 

“Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended from abroad”

 

“Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of every thing; and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press. It has accordingly been decided, by the practice of the states, that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth, than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigor of those yielding the proper fruits. And can the wisdom of this policy be doubted by any one who reflects that to the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression? ”

 

“Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

 

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

From the other side

Last week I posted about my disappointment about the Republican Platform. While I still think on many of the issues that matter to me I side with the Republicans, here are some things from the Democratic Platform that I agree with and that caught my eye as interesting. You can find the whole thing here if you would like to read it, note that the titles will jump you to a more in depth section.

“District of Columbia. Every citizen of the United States is entitled to equal citizenship rights, including the 638,000 residents of the nation’s capital who pay federal taxes without representation. The American citizens who live in Washington, D.C., like the citizens of the 50 states, should have full and equal congressional rights and the right to have the laws and budget of their local government respected without congressional interference.”

Living so close to Washington DC, this issue has become very close to my heart. One of the primary reasons I live in the suburbs rather than in the city itself is that I refuse to not have a representative with full voting rights in the legislature.

“Freedom to Marry. We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”

I would like to point out that I really liked the phrasing of the gay marriage issue, and the freedom of churches to decide how to practice marriage being completely separate from the government.

While at heart I didn’t agree with the particulars of the plank on abortion to be fair I must admit that the Libertarian in me very much appreciated the sentiment in this phrase from it: “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.”

I would also like to mention that these planks that I have pointed out were pretty buried within the platform. From the main page there were no main jumps to them. Rather the main jumps were about the economy, American community, and international affairs. While many of these things I don’t agree with the stance of the Democrats, or their particular solutions to the problems we are facing, I have to applaud the fact that the issues that I think the government has a right and duty to be dealing with were front and center.

Strangely I am starting to think that the party least interested in intruding upon my liberties and personal life is the Democrats at the moment. This leads me to an interesting problem; trying to determine how my vote is really going to effect my liberty. Is big government the lesser of two evils when thinking about personal liberties being stripped away? Is preserving a more conservative fiscal view along with immigration and healthcare more important than allowing the government a say in my personal life? Even if for now the government and I are on the same side, is allowing them any say at all too great a risk to take? Would my liberties really be any safer with one side or the other in power?
For now I’m not sure, hopefully I’ll figure it out by November.

Some Thoughts

A few thoughts on the presidential election and conventions thus far:

*The 24 hour news cycle is evil, and I am determined to not watch any coverage from the “news” only TV networks and rather observe this election coverage in print and online only. The Colbert Report and Daily Show may be my only occasional TV influence for this election. They don’t really count as “news” but at least they make me laugh.

*National Conventions have always fascinated me in their patriotic pageantry. I wonder if the same company provides the red, white and blue balloons and confetti for both parties.

*As a “some e-card” I saw so eloquently put it: “I desperately need a ‘hide political posts’ button on Facebook so I can still like all my friends after the election year is over”.

*The emphasis on the spouses of the candidates always seems quite odd to me.

*The prominence of faith in politics this election cycle seems a little more pronounced than in past years and it honestly kind of worries me.
(side note: this is an interesting piece on the people giving prayers at the DNC this week and why they were chosen)

*I love watching the use of certain songs as campaign anthems; then artist’s support or anger at the usage. Someone should really write a book on the psychology of campaign music, and if someone has I want to read it.

Power

Nearly all men can withstand adversity; If you wan to test a man’s character, give him power. -Abraham Lincoln