Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sports Team Politics

I took a speech class in college. The teacher was talking about a really classic speech--one I'd heard of before. It's a classic Pro Life argument in which abortion is compared to slavery. There were a few people in the classroom that instantly voiced their disagreement before the teacher explained the connection. On the surface, it sounds like an unrelated connection. But if you investigate, it's a really good argument. The point being that slaves had little rights and that we give even less rights to the unborn. It's not enough to sway me from being Pro Choice, but it's a good argument. Which is why I say, it's important to look passed the surface and understand what's on a deeper level.

I talk to a lot of people about politics. Most people that are serious about politics discuss it like they do sports. A guy in Team A cheats on his wife, and Team B fans open their mouths with, "That's just what Team A people do." A politician in Team B cheats on his taxes, and idiots from Team A slam his whole party.

It's important to take a step back from that and debate party politics rather than team politics. There's nothing about being a Democrat that compels people to post pictures of your junk to your Twitter followers. Nor to cheat on your taxes when you're the one who writes the tax codes or to award government scholarships to members of your family. Indeed, the Dems have certainly had a bad couple years now with ethics violations and scandals. But again, it's important to note that it's not party affiliation that shapes moral behavior. It certainly contributed to the historic Republican victories in 2010--something I'm pretty happy about. But it's unfortunate that it came about for the wrong reasons.

I say this because the current administration is a radical departure from what the Democrat party has been for the last several decades. My hope is that independents are saying, "Whoa, hold on. That's way too far left." Can you imagine John F. Kennedy saying, "No nation in the history of the world has ever taxed its way into prosperity," standing right next to Obama as Obama seeks to raise taxes instead of cutting spending? Obama who just committed the biggest economic failure as a president in the history of this nation--the Stimulus Bill, that not only didn't create a single job, but actually cost 1.9 million jobs due to the uncertainty and instability it caused, then stuck tax payers with a trillion dollar debt with no sign of an apology from Obama more than, "As it turns out, there's no such thing as shovel ready projects." Um, oops? If Obama was leading a corporation and did that, he'd be in jail. That's not an exaggeration.

What's happening on the right side is very different. And despite what nitwits like Janeane Garofalo might think about the Tea Party, the Tea Party is as much a response against Neocons as it is against Liberals.

Some Democrats today are eager to distance themselves from the history of their party. Democrats fought for slavery. The KKK was founded by Democrats and they killed Republicans and blacks alike. Remember that it was a Republican that freed the slaves, and since Abe Lincoln, most Blacks who registered to vote, registered as Republicans since then. So to Democrats, Blacks and Republicans were two faces of the same enemy.

It was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, that established anti child labor laws, ended sweat shops, and greatly improved the lives of workers. And in the 1960s, when LBJ wanted to pass the Civil Rights Acts of 66 and 68, he had to turn to the Republicans to get it done because his own party was apathetic.

Then things changed. LBJ was a Democrat and many Democrats didn't like the idea of the Civil Rights Acts, much less having it signed by their own guy. LBJ escalated the war in Vietnam which was unpopular with both parties. The combination of the two made LBJ one of the very few presidents that was too unpopular to be able to run for a second term. Then Nixon came along. Nixon saw a disillusioned south and saw an opening. Republicans had always controlled the northern states while the Dems had the south, but Nixon saw a way to persuade southerners to flip. It didn't happen over night or even entirely during his administration. But it started with him in something called the Southern Strategy.

Not long after Nixon, we got Jimmy Carter. Carter was an honest guy--exact opposite of Nixon. He really meant well. He just wasn't very good. It was a tough blow for Democrats trying to recover after seeing their party splitting in half. Then came Reagan. Reagan spoke about small government, the strengths of capitalism, and of compassionate conservatism.

As the economy started to recover from the mess Carter left contrasting sharply to the utter hell of life in Communist Russia, many Democrats no longer wanted to be associated with the failures of big government. They became the Neocons--new conservatives that brought their old fiscally liberal, socially restrictive ideas to a party that was the exact opposite.

Now when I tell people I'm a Republican, they think that means I'm a racist that hates gay people. Now Republican candidates have to appease the Neocon crowd that never should have been part of our party in the first place. That's why we get Big Government Neocon Presidents like George Bush who massively expanded government spending who was unfortunately followed by a Big Government Liberal who massively expanded government spending.

And thus, the rise of the Small Government Tea Party movement.

Speaking of that, I recently read an article in which the question was asked if this country needs Ayn Rand or Jesus more. It's an interesting question because it so divides the Republican party.

Ayn Rand was an Atheist who escaped the oppression of Communism and moved to the US to be free. She wrote fiction that showed the morality of Capitalism and small government. This makes her a hero among Conservatives, but she also points out that Christian Fundamentalism limits freedom, and thus should be avoided, which makes her not well liked among Neocons. Anyone who knows me, knows of the two figures, which I think this country needs more.

Anyway, my whole point here is that politics should not be thought of like sports, but rather as a series of strategies to govern. The individual players may influence what party labels mean, but we should look past the labels and individuals and understand the core concepts they represent.

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