Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stand For Something

How many of us identify ourselves as Republicans? How many think that we're Democrats? Whom amongst those reading this blog is an Independant, Libertarian, or member of the Green Party? How do we let that self-identification shape our opinions regarding those who are of a separate affiliation?

During the last election, the Republicans invoked the name of Ronald Reagan over and over again. He was a revered figure, the heart of what modern Republicanism was supposed to be. Reagan, as you may remember, presided over massive economic downturns, deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, covert dealings with hostile foreign powers, along with healthy upswings in violent crime and drug use. He also waged a rhetorical war against an already-collapsing world power. Replace "Tear down this wall" with "Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out," and you can see that the GOP is still proud of the model Reagan established. For my part, it brought to mind what I thought was a good question. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, why don't they invoke his name instead? The answer was eye-opening.

Abraham Lincoln as a Republican in his time would be a Democrat today. The ideas that the party preaches change as shift as one ideology becomes more popular with the voters. What they put out as firm foundations that they universally support are little more than platforms to help usher them into office where they can pursue their own agendas.

John McCain was as good a candidate as we've seen for the Presidency in decades. Yet in a country increasingly infuriated with the actions of the party in power, few were willing to even give him a chance. Barack Obama was villified to a ridiculous degree (one conservative columnist compared him to Hitler!) by merit of his being the Democratic nominee. Barely anyone in the country even knows the opinions of Bob Barr or Ron Paul, because we've been conditioned to believe 3rd party candidates have no chance to win, so their viewpoints don't matter.

What I'm driving at is that we have, by and large, come to represent beliefs in a flawed party system rather than standing on any actual belief. Were I to identify with a political party simply based on ideal, I would call myself a Republican. I believe in a small government. I support a free market economy. I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I don't support other beliefs of the party that are based on religious rather than social guidelines, but at the core, their ideals are in line with mine. It has been quite some time, however, since the GOP was able to practice what it preached.

The deregulation of the economy was supposed to provide greater opportunity for American citizens to advance based on their own merit. What was never imposed, however, were any restrictions which kept those who accumulated great wealth from holding down others who wanted to do the same. The belief in small government burgeoned out of control as the administration became increasingly bureaucratic. The right to bear arms was turned into little more than a "with us/against us" point, used to imply every Democrat in the nation had no other agenda than to completely repeal one of the foundations of our Bill of Rights. The people behind the ideas no longer cared about what they were saying. It only mattered insofar as it would get them in office.

I am calling upon the American public and the future political leaders which will rise from it to reverse this trend. It is time for us as individuals to decide what it is we really believe in. Being against something is not the same as standing for something else. Take a side. Do research. Know what you're talking about and be informed. Stand for something.

The most important thing we as voters can do is keep ourselves informed on the issues. Don't support a candidate or attack his opponent simply because they wear a red tie or a blue one. Find out what they really do. Research their records, look at their public statements, find out what the office they're running for is actually capable of. Never believe word-of-mouth. Never try to bend facts or rumors to support theories you already hold. Approach the world with an open mind and a healthy dose of skepticism. Sound like a lot of work? It is. But if we want to complain about the job the government does, we should accept our part of the responsibility for putting them there.

With the amount of information availble to us now, there is no reason we can't all be reasonably informed about our representatives. If you seriously have a position you believe in, then be willing to do the work it takes to stand up for it. Nothing will change because of people who sit back talking about an idea rather than acting on it. And if it really seems like too much of a bother, then take a good hard look at why you believe in something in the first place.

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