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Saturday, August 11, 2012

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Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or Republican! (...Or, "Who Am I?")



In the past week of expressing my opinions in and on various forums around the internet, I have come across a great deal of criticism, mostly from conservatives who accuse me of being a closet liberal (when they pick and chose postings which criticize aspects of their ideology), and of being “self-righteous” when others actually read instances where I slam both ideological branches (thus, not leaving them with a leg to stand on when then cannot accuse me of being “liberal”). And because I’m forced to deal with such narrow-mindedness from the intellectual Peanut Gallery on a daily basis, I thought this would be a great time to express my disdain for both Liberal Democrats and Conservative Republicans…and why.
In order to understand why project a certain amount of perceived arrogance in my observations and conclusions, you have to understand a thing or two about my background. Politics were rarely discussed on my house growing up, so there was not the direct influence of traditional political allegiances which tends to shape the thinking of many of my fellow Americans. Growing up as a black male within a fluctuating but limited range of class identities—between lower working-to lower-middle-classes—I came from a mostly single-parent bus structured household. Most of those around me tended to vote Democrat…with the assumption that my parents did too (although it was not really a certainty). Because of my always shifting economic and social stations, I have had the fortune—or misfortune, depending on one’s perspective—to have lived (or would that be “survive”) a myriad of experiences which helped to shape my outlook and perspectives on a great many issues.
Just to provide a frame of reference for those of you with limited life experiences, I will post a bit of chronology. The day I turned 13, my mother quietly woke me and my siblings up around 4 in the morning, and we were told to quietly bag our clothes, and stole away from the home we had known…leaving our father behind (you do the math) in Michigan, and headed to Chicago, where I was born and raised part of my life. We stayed with relatives, and needless to say, public housing in a large Northern city is nothing like life in gated suburbia (where oddly enough, some people still feel the need to carry guns in such relative tranquility). Later the next couple of years, when my mother was forced—much to her bitter resentment—to accept food stamps, I found myself working alongside my other and younger brother in the fruit and vegetable fields back in Michigan…which is how we would pay the rent, and keep the lights on (to this day, I have nothing but respect for Migrant workers, who we’d peacefully worked side-by-side with). Growing up with economic uncertainty, I’d been forced to take a series of jobs, and to be honest, I thank my lucky stars for having the fortune of learning flexibility. I ended up signing up for the U.S. Army—infantry (when you’re 18 and poor, a $2,000 signing bonus sounds like manna from heaven), working on another farm for another 3 years (enduring the weather extremes alone is enough to make me more arrogant than most people), a series of factory jobs, and then long-term unemployment, courtesy of the late 80s, early 90s recession.
I’d gotten into community volunteering and voter registration during a time when I was particularly depressed about my economic situation, which led to my enrolling in local college courses…with the intent to enter law school and practice Human Rights and Civil Rights law (I was the first and only college graduate in my family, graduating with more honors and academic distinctions than you can shake a stick at. I recall during this time, I how myself and a friend managed to con our way into a closed affair to see the first George Bush. I was also proud to have had dinner with Cornel West in Detroit later in my college tenure). My stint in law school was all-too-brief, much to my regret. But afterwards, I had had a series of other nowhere jobs, including waste hauler, long-term substitute teacher, teacher’s assistant, truck driver (yes, I possess a Commercial Driver’s License), rest area cleaner, janitor, grant writer, and a host of other experiences which life forced me to adapt to via economics. And I am totally leaving out the best, most impacting experiences (such as having been a practicing Buddhist, despite growing up Christian, brief marriage, being victimized by feminism, personal loss, working 2 years as a youth counselor in the woods of the South, temporary homelessness, etc.).
The upshot is that I have lived a rather rich—if not regrettable in some circumstances—life. And as you would expect, having lived such a life where I was not afraid to try new things, step outside my personal comfort zones, and adapt to changing fortunes, I’ve learned to see the world with so much clarity…sans the ideological rhetoric of those who adopt confined political (and social) thinking. And as someone who spends his time writing and reading (while most others are hanging in bars, on dance floors, and basking in dream vacations), who better to make objective observations about life than someone who’s managed to cram the experiences of 2, possibly 3 lifetimes in only 45 years? So, with the background having been laid, allow me to chronicle how my experiences have shaped my outlook on social and political policies—more objectively than I believe most have been.

Democrats:
There is a great bit of truth to the conservative view that the black vote has been taken for granted by Democrats. This is part and parcel of a larger issue that I have with Democrats, namely that the coalition of multiple (group) interests that comprise the Democratic Party leaves the organization politically impotent at times. Affirmative Action is often at odds with the values and beliefs of Middle-Class white voters, especially males. President Obama and the NAACP’s stance on gay marriage has divided black thinking and given support on the issue pause (yes, I am against gay marriage. The black family, as many other families in America has enough problems with dysfunction without having the notion gay marriage try to redefine the definition of a traditional family…please don’t bother posting nasty comments with this regard; it won’t change my mind). Race-baiting (while ignoring personal responsibility)? I could talk about this ad naseum, but since the Republicans do it too (and like with many things, with a great bit more subtly and style), I will just say that Jesse Jackson can be as every bit of a racial opportunist as Newt Gingrich.
And unquestioned defense of entitlements is a bit problematic for me (entitlements should be limited to the neediest of individuals, not to anyone who shows they have a splinter which keeps them from working).
Liberal attitudes with regard to child-rearing have created a generation of monsters and defiant ne’er-do-wells. For liberal Democrats, the world tends to stop whenever an issue with a child comes up. All logic and reason goes out the window, and emotions take over (not only do I believe in the power of the hickory switch in order to help a child maintain discipline and respect, but that paddlings should be brought back into schools…and no parent should be allowed to sue unless it’s a situation where discipline crosses the line into obvious abuse).
Democrats have to perform more of a balancing act with regard to these often competing interests than Republicans. They have so many individual platforms that they have no general platform whatsoever.
Democrats have terrible selling points (Republican are far better at shaping arguments and selling BS), some I find personally antithetical to clear thinking and a sense of morality, such as the case with abortion. I believe all life to be sacred, and abortion should be outlawed every bit as much as capital punishment (yes, I believe in women's rights, but not at the expense of men' rights. In reproductive policy, men typically have no rights, and are at the mercy of the courts and women motivated purely by self-interests.
Extremist elements within the party have exemplified this by reframing domestic violence as federal hate crime against women [see: The Politicization of Gender of Gender]. Common sense dictates we cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. Placing a higher value on gender, or race, than the ability to make rational decisions is inherently biased, and potentially disastrously. However, rational adults should be allowed to end their life on their own terms in cases of unbearable incapacitation and/or terminal illness.
And despite having grown up among gunplay to the extreme, I still cannot abide by talk or discussion of gun control; I wouldn’t feel safe living in a house without a gun given what I’ve witnessed in life (obviously, lunatics, fanatics, criminals, children, and paranoid-fearful neighborhood watch volunteers should be exempt from gun ownership). Limiting gun ownership will only limit access to legal gun owners...criminals don't follow the laws anyway.
Democrats seem to want to defend to the death the failing American educational system. Our schools lack discipline, partly because irresponsibly apathetic parents are flooding our schools with undisciplined children with distorted, pop-culture-fed values who then infect other children (who actually want to learn). Every child with even a hint of a “disability” (that includes insane “diagnoses” such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder…are you kidding me?) has “rights,” while the children of responsible parents have to content themselves with getting what they can from a day’s instructions because teachers are forced to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to maintain discipline in the classrooms rather than actually teach (want to blame teachers? While granted some are not competent, you try teaching a room full of brats who’s parents think each is individually “special…”).
Liberal attitudes about political correctness goes way too far at times (I want to be able to say what I want...when I want...and without censor or sanction. Don’t like what I have to say? TS!).
I’ve always been a rabid proponent of universally affordable health care and I sympathize with aspects of the Occupy movement, but Democrats have failed to sell it properly. They've also failed to seize on the discontent the Occupy movement represents and parlay it into an intra-party movement like the Republicans have the Tea Party discontent (although the extremist within the Occupy movement need to leave the destruction and aggression alone).
And let’s not go into government spending...
No, I don’t fully trust government, but I trust the unforgiving market even less. Sometimes, government has to tinker with the market in order to ensure some stability. No, I don’t buy that nonsense that if you allow the market to “correct itself,” it will all balance out in the sweet By-And-By. We tried that once. And what did we get for our laissez faire mentality? The Great Depression.

Republicans:
What can I say about Republicans that I haven’t said before? Conspiracy theories among the extreme right of the party (e.g., Birthers, One-world governments, Trilateral Commissions? And I thought liberals were supposed to be the potheads…).
I like the idea of protecting the rights of gun owners, but just because we’ve elected a black president doesn’t necessitate a run on guns and ammunition. There has been no talk of curtailing gun ownership, despite the recent mass shootings so please stop with the hair trigger rhetoric, thinking, and actions you rabid gun owners!
On that note, conservative Republicans have far better mastered the art of political language, rhetoric, and propaganda with the skill of a Joseph Goebbels. Even every day people who identify with the political conservatism which Republicans are supposed to represent have adopted their politicians' penchant for selective memories, denial of facts, and favoring ideology over reality (the Democrats as a group look woefully inept by comparison when it comes to framing a coherent argument).
Trickle-down economics wasn’t very successful under the Reagan Administration, and just because it’s a new century doesn’t mean it will work any better…despite you’re dressing the notion up in the garb of “job creators.” With the very rare exception, there are no such thing as job creators; they are profit-creators who, if it were possible to create and turn a profit without incurring the labor costs in creating employment, they would in a heartbeat. The market is not sacrosanct. It is not above reproach or questioning. It is a man-made institution, subject to the same level of maintenance requirements as that of any man-made institution.
As an agnostic, I find the way Republicans have allowed Christian fundamentalists to co-op the Christian faith to be every bit as disturbing as the way Muslim fundamentalist (i.e. radical Muslims) have co-opted Islam. The Bible states, “Judge not least ye be judged.” The same hold true for those who would paint the religion of Islam (or any other religion) with a broad stroke; some of us are just as willing to do the same with your beliefs! Your perspectives and perception of the Christian interpretation of spirituality is just that…your perceptions. And no…not every political candidate for office is “told by God” to “run for the office of president" (get real…take your meds, and stifle the sanctimony while you're at it).
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On a similar note, just because someone isn’t a conservative doesn’t automatically makes them a “liberal.” It’s one sociopolitical ideology among many. Conservatism didn’t come into being with the Big Bang. It’s not a flawless ideology, and following it’s beliefs to the letter will no more bring about a utopia than liberal Kumbaya-ism will. Stop with the dreaming and ideological delusion. Most of the current crop of Republicans have more of an allegiance to conservative ideology and the Republican Party than to reality. Sensible Republicans like the late Jack Kemp, Alan Keyes, and Colin Powell have no influence on this current brand.
Government spending…you want to stop it? Then let’s end pork barrel/pet project spending on both sides of the aisle. If local districts want another park or museum dedicated to lima beans, then let the locals fund it. If you’re going to talk about cutting spending…all spending must be on the chopping block. Also, every American must be willing to share sacrifice if the federal deficit is such an issue…that includes the 1-Percenters/”job creators.” Cutting taxes will not yield a balanced budget, nor has there ever been any proof that it will spur economic growth except under a particular series of conditions (that’s an unproven economic theory, much like that other theory conservatives can’t seem to swallow, that of evolution, which rank-and-file conservatives love to repeat without the benefit of research or context).
“Limited” government? You can’t claim to want “limited government” when it comes to matters of the market and/or economic equality, but then want to use the power of government to interfere with matters of social policy, such as gay marriage, abortion, and end-of-life determination. Either you’re for limited government or you’re not…otherwise, be as prepared to be labeled “hypocrite” as you are quick to label Democrats (for example, extremist Tea Party elements within the G.O.P. have called for privatizing entitlements, such as George Bush's 2005 proposal to tie Social Security to the stock market. Can you imagine how many people would have suffered if social security pensions were tied to, say the hot commodity of the market then, mortgage-backed securities? You say "You don't trust government?" Well, I don't trust the market!).
Climate change? If you are willing to believe in an all-seeing, all-knowing, invisible man hiding somewhere in the sky—without proof other than “faith”—then why is it hard to believe the science (which, by the way has been winning over skeptics) of man’s impact on the environment?
I could continue, but I will shorten my list of gripes with both parties due to fact that I know most of you will who are dedicated to these particular political parties will want to get started on you denial.

The fact is that ideological views of these two parties have polarized our political system, almost beyond the prospect of repair. Government gridlock has paralyzed the legislation process. Many discontented individuals such as myself view both political parties as being, corrupt to their respective cores, and no longer capable of governing. The politicians of these entities have teamed up with corporations to place profit and the market above people and have decided that the richest 1% deserve tax breaks and preferential treatment while the rest of us pay the unbalanced tax burdens and are forced to live on less and less.
Some of us have had rich experiences in life, which have given us a unique insight and perspective on reality. because of that, some of use understand that ideology is often a smokescreen to clearer perceptions. That is why I write.

Now that that's been said, let’s not hear any more of this BS about how some of us cannot think beyond the spectrum...that's probably particular your hang-up!

15 comments:

  1. Man, if you were a woman, I'd ask you to marry me! LOL Spot on post!!!

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  2. Thanks for expressing (clearly and thoughtfully) the frustrations of all of us who make our own decisions on the issues, instead of blindly adhering to the platform of one of our deeply flawed parties. You and I disagree on some issues - for example gay marriage - but I'm pretty sure that when we're both senators we can debate those issues, agree to disagree (while making progress on other issues), or even *gasp* compromise. In other words, behave entirely unlike members of the current Congress.

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    1. Thank you. But people like us would never get elected...we don't tow the ideological mantra of one particular belief extreme or the other. To paraphrase the late Bruce Lee, "Any level of thinking, however worthy and desirable, becomes a disease when the mind is obsessed with it." And sadly, the reason Democrats and Republicans can afford to be ideologically intransigent is because many Americas have short, selective memories.

      P.S. And in regards to gay marriage, I'm no big fan of heterosexual marriage either...it's an outdated institution that no one takes seriously, and with the chances of 50/50 that they will run the course of the lives of the participants, I don't understand why anyone would even bother with it (See: http://beyond-the-political-spectrum.blogspot.com/2011/11/opinion-death-of-american-marriage.html)

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  3. I agree with pretty much everything you've said. I would take it a step further and say we are screwed. Both Democrats and Republicans suck as a choice, and no other party can win. I had tolerated Dems despite differences with gay marriage, abortion, and gun control because Repubs are still pushing that fascist scam to make the rich richer called "trickle down". Also, the Repubs have been invaded by anarchists called the Tea Party, whose main mission in life is to obstruct government so it fails.
    I can no longer vote for Dems since they have been signing laws that are contrary to our civil rights, like making it a felony to protest if secret service are near, and indefinite detention of Americans without charge or lawyer.
    I feel I am left with no clear choice to cast my vote, which I feel is not just a right but duty to cast. No other political party has a chance of winning.

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    1. Thank you. And what empowers one group over another is that (1) Americans have short memories (2) Americans have selective memories (3) some people actually one or the other party is the party which wears the "white hats" and will actually "protect" their interests over that of corporate and special interests," (4) and (4) most people simply regurgitate what they've heard from their party's talking head just because it validates their pre-conceived beliefs (rather than actually listening objectively with an open mind.

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  4. Obviously, the poster/blogger here doesn't know a darn thing about economics or how to preserve a civil society. I encourage you to read the Constitution before you go on any further diatribes.

    When I saw the word Christian fundamentalist being used as a comparison with folks that blow themselves up on a day to day basis -- I find that quite laughable.

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  5. Let me guess...YOUR grasp on how a society works is firmer than mine (or anyone else's)? I think you missed the point of not only this posting, but this blog entirely. You are supposed to approach a discourse with an open mind...with the possibility that the other person may be right and you may be wrong, not with your counter argument already cocked and loaded, and ready to fire. You my friend obviously cannot think past your own ideological beliefs.
    Things are never as simple or black and white as they appear. Any type of "-ism" (patriotism, capitalism, conservatism, socialism, etc.) is just a way limiting one's thinking. We live in a universe of infinite possibilities, and infinite levels of thinking. "-isms" and ideological thought blinds perspectives, and makes it impossible to "see them as they are." To paraphrase Bruce Lee, "Any level of thinking, however worthy and desirable, becomes a disease when the mind is obsessed with it."
    And like most person who embrace a particular "ism," your thinking appears to be limited. Bottom line...don't judge someone who's life experiences transcends your own by about 2 lifetimes. ;)

    "We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are." --Anias Nin

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  6. Yes you are right both parties quite frankly suck. From the liberals giving too much to the conservatives giving little the ideology is ruling a party to a point were they don't se eye to eye. Even Reagan had to make deals in order with the democrats and yet the tea party don't want to negotiate anything. I tend to side with democrats but this election year has really gone to the birds. I agree with some of the things the tea party has to say but their aguments have gone from fiscal responsibility to the I hate Obama party. While they have done a good job stating the fiscal problems of the US. They have mostly stated arguments about communism and socialism. I don't see why they hate Obama when the guy himself has acted more of a modern republican than a progreesive democrat. He tripled the number of troops, extended the Bush tax cuts and adopted a health care reform that is based on a republican idea. Now the democrats are making scapegoats out of the rich and don't want to negotiate cutting benefits. This gay marriage thing althogh I agree in marriage equality gets out of hand when someone mentions they don't agree with it. Look if a person does not agree with it don't make a protest out of it its not like the person is saying something hateful about the issue they just don't agree with it. I feel that this election cycle is a waste of time and neither party has a solution. It upsets me that other countries like Germany and Brazil have been in similiar situations economically and have been able to do sometype of reform to fix their economies yet the ideology of this country are getting in the way of things that actually need to get done.

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    1. Sorry typos I meant to say arguments and even Reagan had to make deals with the Democrats.

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  7. Thanks you. And you're right...under the current conservative mentality, Reagan would be considered a "moderate," possibly "liberal." I mean, he compromised with the Democrats, he negotiated arms treaties with the Soviets, and he even "cut-and-ran" in Beirut after the 240 U.S. Marines barracks were bombed by a suicide bomber. And let's not forget there was no military action taken against Iraq in 1987 when one of its jets attacked the U.S. Stark guided missile frigate...yes, THAT Iraq! I find the Democrats too wimpy on many issues, and the Republicans oppressively bold and judgmental on others. But I really do have to give credit where credit is due...the Republicans have commanded the language of politics and the mastery of propaganda with the skills of a Joseph Goegbbels

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  8. BTPS:

    Here is my analysis of your analysis above.

    The difference between your arguments and mine (and why I rejected your "Admit that Rick Santorum is a problem as well" challenge on Booker Rising") is because - While you are able to articulate "despicable things" from Democrats and Republicans - you still talk from a POLITICAL perspective when it comes to "Black Community Development".

    My argument is that there is a CORRUPTION OF BLACK INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY - as (what I call) the "Black Racial Services Machine" - that purports to drive "The Black Agenda" has been wholly fused as a Progressive Democratic franchise.

    The problem for me IS NOT that they prefer the Democratic Party and progressivism. My problem is that as they compel Black people to INVEST OUR VALUABLES - over a 50 year span - there IS NO "dispassionate entity" that can look at these INVESTMENTS, look at WHERE OUR COMMUNITY STANDS and then provide some spirited resistance to all that is going on (the funneling of Black Consciousness in to POLITICS).

    With President Obama we have "Black Vicarious Living" through the Black President. As such any "racist slight" against OBAMA is an attack on Black people.
    FAIR ENOUGH.

    When we see The Commander In Chief leading the US Military on an attack in Africa, Yemen or another "Nation Of Color" - this very same "Black Protective Force" that used to protest such imperialism - are made silent because they don't wish to go against their Venerated figure.

    WHAT THIS DOES is to GIVE THE US GOVERNMENT COVER to do what it pleases, knowing that it won't have to face the left wing opposition because of their domestic interests.

    IF there is not a ground-level drive to RETAIN THE INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY within the Black Community - the resulting COMPROMISED STATE of our community - while we ultimately not make any net material gains (aside from misplaced pride) is the consequence.

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    1. As I read your response, the phrase "the paralysis of analysis" comes to mind. If you want to argue that the entrenchment of black interests (political and social) in both the Democratic vs. Republican dynamic, then I suggest that you trace its origins back to where it truly began...the Civil Rights Movement. While the "establishment" (as it was) civil rights leaders were busy demonizing outsiders like Malcolm X, HIS (and similar) messages of political, social, and economic isolation and separation had any chance of "RETAINING THE INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY within the Black Community." As a result of integrating black interests within the political ideological dynamic (Democratic as well as Republican), we create, perpetuate, and suffer from the delusion that either party will (1) work to our benefit (2) that our economic and social salvation lay in either party (and its ideological platform) and (3) that white fear and anxiety toward the black community can be manipulated (by the likes of Santorum, Gingrich, and others) on the right, and playing on race-based guilt on the left to craft policies which divide and at the same time enable the black community...as your statements clearly illustrate.

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