Politics and Policy:
- This is something I’ve been thinking on for awhile. I banged this out today, but will likely edit it more over time. I would appreciate any and all comments on it!
- My political Philosophy (beta version)
More than a few of you have questioned my political beliefs and have wondered why I have changed so much over the years. So, here’s my defense and explanation for my ever-evolving political philosophy.
I developed my earliest political ideas as a child in the 80’s. My parents were typical Southern Conservative Democrats (voting for Reagan and conservatives on national races, but still voting for local democrats). As a child though I didn’t understand the complexities of politics and focused my thoughts on the big offices like the Presidency and the Governorship.
While I vaguely remember Carter, the first President who stirred my imagination was Ronald Reagan. He was the first politician I ever wrote to and was the first person I “campaigned” for, by trying to persuade my second grade teacher into not voting for Mondale in ’84. I told her “Why don’t you like Reagan? He’s going to cut taxes?” but she said “yes, but that will raise the deficit.” I gave up then because I didn’t understand what a deficit was. What I remember most about Reagn was that he was strong against the Soviets and cut taxes. He also made you feel proud to be an American.
As the Reagan years became the Bush years I had grown into a strident Republican. I credited all that was good with Republicans and all that was bad with those “commie pinko democrats.” Occasionally issues would come up that Republicans didn’t see eye to eye with me on (especially the environment) but I did my best to stifle my doubts and hold to the approved petition.
When I turned 18 I proudly registered as Republican and plunged into three years at Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a driving desire to shake the world for conservativism.
During my freshman year I began writing an extremely vitriolic ultra-conservative column (where I said attrociously inflamatory things like “President Clinton, the blood of unborn babies is on your hands”) entitled first The Other Side, later The Right Side (after the Republican Revolution of 1994) and finally One Clear Voice. Looking back on those days, I am amazed that I could say some of the things that I said then.
By my sophomore year I was the Chairman of the local College Republican chapter (and State Secretary by my Junior year) and was getting more involved with local politics (including being a state convention delegate one year), and finally during my last year there, I worked as the Campaign manager for a friend who was running for State Rep (and was later hired part-time by his primary opponent, after my intial man dropped out of the race) in 1996. During that race, I pulled out all of the stops in fighting for my candidate. We ran a clean race and I was certain that we would prevail, but in the end didn’t make it.
This was a pretty crushing blow for me and made me seriously question the value of politics. I thought that if you did the right thing and fought hard you were guaranteed to win, but was very disappointed to discover otherwise. This defeat, along with many personal issues going on at the time in my spiritual walk caused me to leave SWOSU and transfer to the Institute for Christian Studies in Austin, TX in the fall of 1997.
When I first arrived in Austin I avoided politics but soon got involved with the Travis County Republican party as a precinct chairman and later as a State convention delegate.
(Interestingly enough when I was chosen as a delegate, the convention delegate selection committee asked me to complete a lengthy questionnaire on my views to prove I was conservative enough. By this point I had become anti-death penalty, but they let me on since I was stridently pro-life. (I think they thought I was a Catholic and tolerated my soft views on the death penalty because they thought I was a lock on abortion.)
They also asked if I supported Texas’s anti-sodomy law. I had never heard of it before so I said “sure” without giving it much thought. In retrospect, I don’t think I did the right thing. Today I do not support homosexuality, but also think that just because I do not believe in something doesn’t mean there should be a law against it. Freedoms exist to protect everyone’s rights, even the ones you might not see eye to eye with.
In 1998 though I began to have more questions on traditional GOP views and went as far as to speak at state convention (very scary experience, as it was at the Ft. Worth convention center in front of 18,000 people!) in favor of a proposed amendment to legalize medical marijuana. Of course the amendment was shot down by most of the folks, including most of my fellow Travis County delegates who glared at me.
By the fall of 1999, I began to feel more and more estranged from the GOP and began to be more and more attracted to the Libertarian party. The Libertarian philosophy seemed very rational to me, and I appreciated the consistency the Libertarians showed in their advocacy, as compared to the wishy-washiness of the Republicans.
So, in Dec. of 1999 I officially submitted my resignation to the Travis County Republican party, and became a Libertarian. I also at that same time registered as a candidate for Travis County Constable for Precinct 5 on the Libertarian ticket.
The next year was thrilling politically. I ran a low-budget campaign (only raised $200) that was focused on promoting the party and the issues I cared about. I saw several of my letters to the editor published in Austin newspapers, posted signs, and even appeared on Cable TV and non-profit microradio stations to promote my candidacy. In the end, I received about 18% of the vote.
(On a side note, on election night after attending the Libertarian watch party, I stayed up all night with my friends Kimberly and Aimee in the freezing drizzle to see Dubya at his downtown watch party. Bush of course didn’t dare show his face that night (they finally told us to go home at 5 a.m.) which I thought was pretty shabby.
Towards the end of that election cycle, I began to question more and more of the Libertarian philosophy. I generally supported them on issues of personal liberty (drug decriminalization, free speech, etc) but not on issues of economic regulation (esp with regards of the supposed rights of corporations). I continued as a member of the Libertarian party because of the friends I had in the party, but when I moved to San Marcos (in neighboring Hays County) I changed my party affiliation to the Green party and have remained a Green party member ever since.
Since then I have solidified my political philosophy more clearly. Generally, I would say that my views line up well with the 10 Key Green values, but to a lesser extent with some of the views held by the Green party mainstream.
As far as the issues, here’s where I stand… (more to be added later on)
War: 100% opposed to it, as I am to all forms of violence. (I derive my views from my faith in Jesus and His teachings on non-violence.)
Capital Punishment: Opposed to the death penalty for the same reason that I am opposed to war.
Realistically, I know that the death penalty is very popular in America right now, so I advocate as an interim step a temporary moratorium on future executions until society can insure that there can be no chance an innocent person would be killed. (Which would be a practical prohibition, as that guarantee will never be made. 😉
Abortion: a more touchy issue with some folks. I respect those who see things differently, but my personal belief is that it is wrong, as it is a form of killing.
As to the practical ramifications of this belief, I don’t think that the pro-life movement is on the right track. Sadly, the culture has changed and even if Roe was overturned tomorrow little would change.
Overturning Roe would mean that abortion law would revert to being a concern of state governments. Some states in the South and Midwest would likely outlaw or restrict the practice, while most others would allow it.
Most women in the states where it is prohibited would simply travel to states where it would be legal, so the only real consequence would be that poor women would be less likely to get them and/or they might wait until later in their pregnancy to get them due to the need to save enough funds for travel costs.
Given the circumstances, I think Pro-lifers would be better off to focus on persuasion and support for mothers than on trying to overturn Roe.
What I find ironic and revolting is Republicans who say their pro-life, yet want to cut welfare. That makes zero sense to me. If you’re really pro-life then you should be willing to dramatically increase welfare payments to indigent pregnant women.
We also need to see churches do more to help and support pregnant women (this is happening some, but not near often enough) and new mothers as well.
Economics: I support community-based economies and oppose the WTO, NAFTA, and other policies that destroy local communities around the world.
Environment: I support organic farming practices, a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, and the preservation of the remaining wilderness places. I also support preserving more green spaces in cities.
Civil Liberties: I passionately believe in the Bill of Rights and accept no compromise on those concerns, be it freedom of religion, speech and press, to the rights of criminal defendants.
Foreign Affairs: I believe the US should refuse to support nations that oppress their people, including many of our current allies such as Saudi Arabia, China, et Al. The US should also support debt relief for third world countries and invest more heavily in infrastructure, health, and education in third world countries, particularly in our own hemisphere.
Drugs: I support drug decriminalization. Possession and distribution of small amounts of illegal drugs should be punished by only a civil penalty. I also believe that the racist federal penalties for crack and power cocaine possesion/distribution should be equalized.
Local Oklahoma Issues: I oppose the lottery and would rather see taxes raised to support education.
Ok, that’s all for now. Let me know what issues I left out that should be included.
Post edited Oct 5, 2002