Political affiliations

Posted on September 4, 2008 by

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Okay, so here’s my story on politics.  For most of my life, I honestly haven’t paid much attention to politics.  I couldn’t even say confidently whether I was a Republican or Democrat.  Not really knowing where I stood, and not really understanding the differences between the two parties made it hard for me to build up any interest in politics in general.  I could look at one issue at a time, but without an overall picture, it just all felt so foreign and intimidating.

Then a year or two ago I stumbled across a great article that gave me a new outlook.  It painted the party differences in a way that had never been presented to me.  Simply put (and I’m going to do a terrible job summing up the article), it said that Republicans and Democrats have different expectations of their government: Republicans expect their government to maintain the people’s LIBERTY, and Democrats expect their government to maintain the people’s SECURITY.

From a Republican perspective, the government’s role is to maintain my liberty by allowing me to be free to make my own choices.  Fail or succeed, I get to choose what to do with my life and the government should, for the most part, butt out.  Of course, Republicans expect basic services from the government: law enforcement, education, etc.  But beyond that, any decision the government makes for me is one less choice I am free to make myself.

From a Democratic perspective, the government’s role is to maintain my security by guaranteeing me a high quality of life.  A high quality of life includes such things as being healthy, being well-off monetarily, and being well-educated.  Democrats expect the government to see to it that their food is healthy and that their cars don’t pollute.  They want the government to make sure there is always a job that they will like available for them, and that their kids will get the same education as the rich folks in the next town.  The government exists to make their life better, and it’s okay to rely on the government because that’s what it’s there for.

I now know myself to be a firm Republican.  I believe the proper role of government is to make sure that I am free to make my own choices in life.  I’m not saying all government programs are bad, of course.  I believe basic programs that support and encourage education allow people more liberties in their future by granting educational opportunities.  I believe that the government is responsible for some form of basic welfare for people who, for whatever reason, have run out of choices in life.  I believe that the government should make sure I’m safe from physical harm.  Programs and services that allow me more freedoms are great.  However, I also believe that when the government forces me to not eat trans-fats, that’s one less choice I’m free to make.  Or when the government forces energy companies to build wind farms, that’s one less choice they’re free to make.  Or when I’m taxed for programs that I don’t agree with, I lose a little more of my monetary freedom.  I certainly understand the appeal of the Democrats.  The idea of government guaranteeing all people a perfect education and an ideal health care system and a high-paying job sounds wonderful.  I simply don’t believe that these things fall within the government’s responsibilities.

I realize there are other ins and outs to Republicans vs. Democrats.  There are even a few exceptions like abortion, where Republicans actually vote for less liberty.  But understanding the idea of liberty vs. security has at least given me a starting point for grasping the nation’s differences of opinions, and grasping my own opinions.

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