I originally put this on Facebook, but it belongs here. Especially since I’m adding a new link:
As a citizen, I think one of our most important jobs is to very simply question our government. This is not a partisan thing; question at every level, question whomever is in office, and question whether they share your party affiliation or not. Question the reasons for their decisions, the morality of their policies, the pragmatics of their solutions.
And in questioning, understand that the next job of the citizen is to push back where it is right. Not to the extent that you step on the guy next to you, not to the extent that you harm others, but by every legal method available, with determination and will, to correct imbalances. All of that in the context of remembering that no citizen is always right, no citizen has the right to always get his way, and no citizen should forget to do his best to treat his fellows with respect and kindness.
Occasionally, I lose sight of my own rules; then I see a story like those linked below and I suddenly remember. Job number one is to question.
Story 1: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose
The government also argued that it could keep Megaupload in legal limbo indefinitely. ‘None of the cases impose a time limit on service,’ the government’s attorney told the judge. Therefore, the government believes it can leave the indictment hanging over the company’s head, and keep its assets frozen, indefinitely. Not only that, but the government believes it can continue to freeze Megaupload’s assets and paralyze its operations even if the judge grants the motion to dismiss.
“Your driver was shot in your truck,” said the caller, a business colleague. “Your truck was loaded with marijuana. He was shot eight times while sitting in the cab. Do you know anything about your driver hauling marijuana?”
“What did you say?” Patty recalled asking. “Could you please repeat that?”
The truck, it turned out, had been everywhere but in the repair shop.
Commandeered by one of his drivers, who was secretly working with federal agents, the truck had been hauling marijuana from the border as part of an undercover operation. And without Patty’s knowledge, the Drug Enforcement Administration was paying his driver, Lawrence Chapa, to use the truck to bust traffickers.
These stories speak of an arrogant, irresponsible government with no sense of accountability to the folks that they should be serving. These folks should feel shame for their part in twisting laws and ruining lives, but, of course, what they actually feel is self-righteous indignation at the thought that someone like me might question their actions. Don’t I know that they are just acting in my best interests?
Now, for pushing back…
Warning: Long, rambling post ahead. Best ignored by folks uninterested in my own personal inner monologue.
I’m a Christian, but I haven’t sat in a church where I feel comfortable worshiping in years.
I’m a Republican and a conservative but I don’t feel particularly comfortable sitting in those pews, either. When it comes to the movement libertarians, I’m sure as hell not one of that crew even when I’m feeling sympathetic to their goals (which happens fairly often). And I think that progressives tend to live on the wrong side of reality (and they would likely say the same about me).
When the Tea Party started up, I found myself drawn to them. There was an underpinning of something libertarian in the movement (or, at least, that’s what I thought), and I liked the initial focus on economic issues over social issues. It’s become something very different; the movement seems to have become very focused on a narrow view of what conservatism should be and who qualifies to be labeled as a Republican.
I’m really tired of the term RINO and really tired of having folks on Twitter and Facebook and myriad blogs telling me who I can and can’t vote for if I want to stay in the graces of the keepers of proper conservative ideology. It irritated me when Andrew Sullivan started playing that game and it doesn’t feel much better coming from self-important commenters on NRO and Spectator blog entries.
Talking Ron Paul would be unproductive and Gary Johnson is a mixed bag (and a useless way to spend my vote).
So, back to the beginning, and to my point: I know where my vote is going this year (barring some revelation that suddenly makes President Obama spectacularly more attractive, politically, than he is to me right now), but I really wish that some folks would remember that their narrow view of our country and our political possibilities not only won’t win elections but it won’t win change. It’s the Ron Paul trap in the sense that folks who believe that only their path and only their candidate can save us are pretty much guaranteed to consign themselves to smaller roles in greater things.
Bismark (or the writer who first attributed it to him) was right: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable, the next best.”
No, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your principles at the door, but it does mean that a wise man knows when to build coalitions, when to compromise, and when to refuse to bend. If you live in Boulder, CO, you shouldn’t expect to be hiring a stone-ribbed conservative to be your representative. So why not support a Scott Brown type figure? A man who may not be strictly conservative, but who will do a much better job of protecting your interests than the progressive left’s favored alternative.
What brought this up? I like Condi Rice. In fact, I find her fascinating and I hope that she continues to play a role American politics. I’m not blind to her faults and errors during the last administration, but I’m also not ready to minimize her strengths or dismiss her from our ranks. I don’t think that she is going to be Romney’s VP, though, and I don’t believe that she is the right person to give him the boost he needs to take the election– but he could do a hell of a lot worse than someone with her breadth of knowledge and experience.
So when I read this post on NRO, I started feeling cranky. Not so much because of John Fund’s analysis, which I think is reasonable, with the exception of the comparison to Sarah Palin and his concern for her ability to carry her message and handle the politics of a national campaign.
Seriously, can you imagine Rice being tripped up by a lightweight like Katie Couric asking about what’s on her reading list? Or being at a loss for smart analysis of any conceivable issue that she might face? That audio of her Park City speech should put those fears to rest. Her seriousness, her thoughtfulness, and her careful nature shine through at all times– even at those times where I find myself in disagreement with her. She is, in so many ways, the anti-Palin.
For as much as Sarah Palin was treated poorly by the press, she turned out to be a disappointment to me. I had revelled in the excitement she initially brought to McCain’s campaign and had high hopes that she would be a quick study on the national stage. Maybe many of her problems can be blamed on the staff’s mishandling of her, but in the end she simply wasn’t the person I thought she was. She wasn’t a Reagan in the making– a person rising from simple circumstances, with an undeniable charisma, to lift themselves up to bigger things.
She wasn’t a new Reagan because she simply didn’t have the vision or, seemingly, the willingness to put in the hours learning issues, defining messages, and preparing to bring leadership to the world. She seemed to shrink on the big stage, trusting on a mix of charisma and red meat to get her through.
As an agitator, that’s fine; as a national leader, it’s lacking. There should never, ever be any comparison between her and Dr. Rice.
But I digress. It was the comments that bugged me most. The comment suggesting that she is doing damage to the Romney campaign just by being rumored to be the VP choice, for instance. Or the comment that suggested that she was a “pathetic” option. Or the gentleman who suggested that she had issues with moral reasoning.
I am continually amazed at the arrogance of some folks who sit on the sidelines making their pronouncements about the imperfections of others. I am amazed at those same folks who consider their moral compasses so perfect and unfailing that they are willing to pass judgement with such finality.
The VP choice probably won’t fall in her lap, not least because she has very loudly said that she’s not interested. In pragmatic terms, the VP should help patch over the candidate’s biggest weaknesses (to help him build a winning coalition), and I’m not so sure that she is well-positioned to do that. She probably shouldn’t be the choice.
But why is it so angering to some folks that someone of her stature, accomplishment, and intellect might be considered? Personally, I’m happy as hell to see her on our side of the fight and I welcome her in our ranks.
I grew up believing in the big tent Republican dream.
Republicans should be bound together for a desire to push back against governments’ creeping intrusion and excesses in citizens’ lives and businesses’ ability to operate with minimal interference and only the most necessary regulation. Republican’s should champion a wise conservatism that looks to maintain and conserve those important aspects of our American culture and political being that work well and have helped us to be a country of amazing wealth, creation, and success. But wise conservatism should also recognize that the things that are broken need to be changed, need to be fixed. Not the knee-jerk “hope and change” of the progressive left, but the well-considered change guided by necessity and adherence to bedrock principles.
Republicans should recall that our system was designed to let a culturally, religiously, ethnically, and geographically diverse nation as absolutely big as ours survive by protecting the localities from the whims of both our Federal government and from more populous states with wildly differing political priorities, but never at the expense of protected individual freedoms and rights. Which is why slavery could not stand and why women could not forever be denied the vote and why our electoral college is so vitally important as a safeguard to help protect smaller states’ important interests.
There is more, of course, but I trust you see my point: these aren’t sets of policy prescriptions (you must be pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and a big fan of the death penalty), these are sets of ideas to help guide us in wise decision-making. When the litmus test gets too specific, the tent starts shrinking to the point where the party will start ceding elections to the progressive left; we’ll be impotent and useless on the fringe while everything we had hoped to conserve crumbles around us.
I don’t want the Republican party to be guided by a checklist of policy positions. I want the Republican party to be guided by good principles, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and a deep respect for the dignity of the individual and a love for freedom.
Bring back the big tent. Bring back that sense that we can work together to build the shining city on the hill, because that’s the kind of hope I want to believe in, the kind of change I can give myself to support.
I have no idea whether Jesse Jackson, Jr tried to kill himself or not and I wouldn’t vote for the man. Still, the comments on this article at Politico cheering for his suicide and diving straight into blatant racism (“Just another lyin’ nigher. The “fruit” doesn’t fall far from the tree.” from jgdp, for instance) is disgusting.
It isn’t funny. It isn’t right. I will cheerfully argue my side of the argument every day of the week and I will advocate strongly for my beliefs. But there is a bright line between right and wrong when it comes to attacking opponents, engaging in racist rhetoric, and cheering for their deaths that I will not cross.
Feel free to hold me to that.
And lest my lefty friends start feeling smug, don’t forget that your side has indulged in the same kind of behavior. This isn’t about sides, this is about how we as Americans need to embrace something a little better in ourselves– a little less cruel and short-sighted– and in our political debates. After all, the folks you are arguing with and even offending are probably friends, family, and co-workers.
As for Jesse Jackson, Jr, I hope that, if the reports of his attempted suicide are correct, he finds the help that he needs to work his way through what must be a very dark and difficult time.
We few, we happy few will be gathering to celebrate friendship and bloggery. We haven’t done one of these things in a while, and it seems like a good time to re-acquaint ourselves with each other (and drink a few shots).
Please share the date and encourage friends and family to join us. Because they might just buy a round of shots.
7pm – Close, 21 July 2012
The Old Mill Brewery & Grill, Littleton, CO
Please RSVP. I will be updating regularly over the next few weeks with links to the folks who will be attending.
I’m glad that Anderson Cooper finally feels comfortable talking about who he prefers to sleep with. What I can’t figure out is why so many people care.
The host of “AC360″ and “Anderson” has never publicly confirmed that detail about his private life before, but he’s never denied it, either. Cooper’s sexual orientation has long been an open secret, but it took an Entertainment Weekly cover story about gay celebrities to prompt the newsman to finally come out.
Because, seriously, unless you think you have a shot, it really doesn’t matter, does it?