I often talk to people a lot about politics. One of my favorite topics is to ask people what their party stands for. I find it very interesting to note that despite the person claiming to be a democrat or a republican, they will often give me the same answers. For example, they will say their party is the one of prosperity and responsibility. They care about helping people... for getting America back to work. I ask them about the opposite party, and they'll often say the "other guys" hate America and hate the Constitution. The other guys are often racists as well, if not just plain evil.
I met two ladies at some convention I went to for Sci Fi writers held in the bay area and was talking to them about this phenomenon. Any time you're in the bay area or any other highly Liberal concentrated area, you're probably better off staying away from politics but I brought up the subject anyways. They were both shocked that any Republican could possibly consider theirs the party that cares about helping people. I'm equally shocked that people seem to be so oblivious to reality that this is a hard concept for people. Had it not been for the Republicans in congress, Lyndon Johnson never would have gotten his two Civil Rights Acts passed. Despite Liberals being convinced that Republicans are all racists, it was Democrats that were split on Civil Rights, and Republicans that overwhelmingly supported it. In fact, Lyndon Johnson had to break with his own party and side with the Republicans, which ultimately cost Johnson the support of his Democrat base, forcing him to be unable to run for re-election. Ironically, many of those southern Dixiecrats that supported segregation and opposed civil rights ended up changing parties and becoming Republicans, which is why Republicans now control the south. This is also why the Republican party is a mix of progressives like John McCain and southern conservatives like Strom Thurman. Though no where near as diverse as the Democrat party.
This gets more confusing as you look at JFK. Kennedy famously said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." He also said, "No nation in the history of the world has ever taxed its way into prosperity." These are defiantely not things Democrats say. These words to a Liberal are like garlic to a vampire. I was talking about this with my dad tonight. Kennedy was clearly a Conservative, as anyone would agree. But I would even argue further that he would probably fit in more the definition of a Republican than a Democrat.
Ok, so what's the difference? Simply put, Republicans want less government. Democrats want more. Easy enough, right? Ok, so what's a Conservative vs a Liberal? This gets a little more tricky, mostly because different people have different definitions. Not only that, but there are a lot of radically different ideologies that all share the same names. Let's look at the term "Liberal."
Obama is a Liberal. I posted a youtube video a couple posts ago linking that speech from 2003 where Obama says he supports Socialized Medicine and says something like, "You can't tell me that the United States, as rich as we are, can't afford to provide health care for everyone." In other videos, he and his allies, have admitted on camera that the public option is just a ruse to destroy privately run health care insurance and force people into buying healthcare insurance from the government. Realizing this isn't popular with "Commie hating Americans," Obama has dishonestly back tracked trying to say that if people really think the government is so terrible at running things, they can't also believe that the government can be a threat to private insurance companies by competing against them.
As a side note, this is a ridiculous argument. Let's assume Little Suzy has a lemonade stand and she sells lemonade for 10 cents. Now I put up a stand right next to her and sell mine for negative $5 dollars. That's right, I paid people $5 dollars to drink my lemonade instead of Suzy's. I put Suzy out of business. How can I afford to do that? Easy, I'm using an "unlimited supply" of tax payer dollars. I don't have to be efficient. The Post Office isn't efficient. It loses money, and yet it also doesn't compete well with private industry--making it the worst of both worlds. The Public Option would either be a massive waste of tax payer dollars when private businesses can do it more effectively, or it would be a massive waste of tax payer dollars AND take away our freedom to choose plans, aka the worst of both worlds. Unfortunately for Obama, voters are figuring this out. The election of Scott Brown, whether Obama likes it or not, according to surveys, hinged mostly on the fact that voters felt like Obama had been dishonest about the healthcare issue and were tricking people. They are right. From Obama's speeches since then, it doesn't seem like he gets this.
Which is sort of strange because all the rest of what Obama had been saying has been pretty consistent. His supporters are mad because he sent additional troops to Afghanistan. Well, Obama has been pretty upfront and honest about this. He supported it when he was a Senator. He said he would during the campaign. He said he would after getting in office. And he eventually did.
He also said he would talk to our enemies and try and make friends with them. He hasn't always been successful, but he's certainly done a lot of work in that area. I'm one Republican that was very happy with his famous speech in Cairo. I really liked the things he said. I'm also really happy that he's chosen to stress the US is not at war with Islam and will never be. He refers to the terrorists as people that twist Islam into something it's not. That's great too.
As a side note, this rarely gets mentioned, but in the treaty of Tripoli--the first war the US ever had outside our borders, we wrote that the United States was not a Christian nation, and thus is not at war with Islam. You can imagine why this tidbit is rarely ever brought up. But it's true--many of our founding fathers opposed Christianity. Some even considered passing laws to ban it, which of course never happened, but what a strange thing to think about today.
Ok, back on course. Liberals. Right. You've probably seen images of Tea Party organizers(a small number of them) with signs that link Hitler to Obama. Silly, right? Actually, yeah that is silly. But Hitler was also a Liberal, but obviously a very different kind. Liberals aren't just Democrats. They're people that want to grow the Government to such extremes that the Government takes away your social and economic freedoms in order to re-distribute wealth to who they want.
This sounds really dark and ominous, and it's hard to know exactly when you've passed Republican, passed Democrat, passed "Sane Liberalism," and gone to the dark place. Insane Liberalism is not sustainable. This is why Insane Liberals often resorts to Fascism or Totalitarianism. These are big scary words that means the Government is now in complete control and the people are merely slaves to it. I've often said that Communism is the best form of government ever created. The only problem with it is it's impossible to achieve with human nature being what it is. Everyone has to share equally. This works on a small scale(at which point we call it Egalitarianism), where when someone in the village doesn't share, they get kicked out. But it's impossible on a large scale where people can easily cheat the system and get away with it. If you have people not contributing, you're always going to have a shortage. Taxing the rich more to make up for the difference(like we do), will only get you so far before something has to be done about the cheaters(or government has to cut spending).
Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Che Guavara, etc, all had the same way of dealing with the "cheaters." Murder. Mass murder. Hitler was a Socialist, but he's often not referred to as such. He was one in every sense of the word, except one. See, as Karl Marx and Engels laid out Communism in the Communist Manifesto they stressed that religion and ethnicity must be forgotten. Religion and cultural differences cause wars and conflict. Clearly, we can see this is true. From the Sunnis and the Shiites killing each other to the UDA and IRA car bombing each other whether the Northern Irish are Irish or British, what would they do if John Lennon's song Imagine became reality and there were no countries or Religion? What would you fight over?
Heh, ok, that's a whole other topic. So Hitler was a Socialist, but he wasn't about to give up Catholicism or "German-ness" for it. Where as the other Socialists / Communists were killing people based on low social class(getting rid of the uneducated and impoverished), Hitler was killing people based on ethnicity and religion. He was essentially killing off Jews and taking their stuff to feed his Socialist / Fascist empire. Hitler was an evil guy, but he genuinely believed that once he was done, he would have created a Utopian universe for the deserving(German Catholics) and forever eliminated the impure elements from humanity.
Recently Obama had his one year anniversary as President. It's obviously gone very bad for him and he often points out that he started off with a bad economy that he inherited and can't fix in only a year. But is Obama even trying to fix the economy? Everyone assumes he is, but let's look at it from his perspective. Let's assume he's cloned and is now President and every Congressman. He has every seat in government. He doesn't have to wait for Blue Dogs and Liberals to agree. He doesn't have to fear if Republicans will filibuster. He has complete control in this hypothetical situation. Can he fix the economy now? Again, I don't think he's interested in that. Not because he's evil, not because he doesn't care, but because I believe that he thinks he's working towards something bigger. He's working, not on fixing things, but on transforming the country into a Liberal Utopia because he thinks that once all the pieces of Socialized Medicine, strong unions, high progressive taxes, loads and loads of government run work projects, and free education for all, are in place, that we will reach Utopia. Once Americans see his vision in reality, they will fall inlove with it and all will be well. What happens in the short run along the way is irrelevant. I honestly think he believes this. He's not interested in working with Republicans because they don't share this goal so he knows they're a waste of his time. He's also said in speeches that we might not get there during his Presidency, so this is clearly a long term goal that he believes many others share.
Now, if he generally believes in this stereotypical Liberal Utopian dream, he will not move to the center(despite campaigning that he would all along) like Clinton did when Republicans took back Congress 2 years after his election, and will continue to push his Liberal agenda. If he does move to the center, then I will have to admit that I'm wrong about him. But I've been watching his speeches for a while now and really listening to what he says.
I don't think this dream sounds bad. Hell, I wouldn't mind free education and healthcare for all, but how can you pay for it? I'm sure we all agree Obama has taken genocide off the table as an option, so what else are we left with? I just don't understand why Liberals think this Utopian dream works when it's failed every time it's been tried.
Blah, anyways, so what's a Republican? Well, Republicans want economic freedoms. Businesses love this. Of course they want the freedom to do what ever they want. Let's not forget that this goes both ways at times. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, made it illegal for businesses to force people to work more than 8 hours at a time. He passed far stricter laws greatly reducing the amount of hours children can work as well. I imagine many big businesses actually liked this, because it made it so the smaller businesses that they competed with, couldn't drive their employees into the ground in an effort to keep up. Big business doesn't mind regulation if it's something they can survive but it knocks out their smaller competition. This is also, I suspect, why many big businesses like the minimum wage--because it hurts small businesses who struggle to make a profit and thus go out of business. The minimum wage is actually a really, really bad thing that does a lot of damage, but that's for another topic.
Republicans tend to not be big on Social Freedoms. Mostly, this is because Republicans tend to be Conservatively religious. But these are two very different issues. I realize my being a Republican and an Atheist is a really unusual combination--not that it's strange, because it's the most logical of things in my mind, but for some reason, it's very rare to see in others. But as such, I have a very different outlook on this. This distinction mostly comes into play around the issue of gay rights and abortion. Religious fundamentalists are not in favor of gay rights. John McCain's wife and daughter have been in the news lately for being supporters of gay rights--including marriage, so there is some variation of views among Republicans. Vice President Dick Cheney announced a few months back that he also supported gay marriage--which is interesting because Liberal Barack Obama does not. VP Cheney's daughter, Mary, of course is a lesbian, which plays a role in his feelings, I'm sure. I bet it must be tough to say to your own child, "You don't have the same rights as everyone else." This is why, ultimately, gay rights will one day be realized as more homosexuals are out of the closet and more people realize who their neighbors and relatives are. It's easy to hate that creepy "other." It's harder to hate people once they have a face.