So, Tuna's post from the other day really made me think about a few things. For one, how did we, as a nation, get so polarized?
It seems to me that there are four major political groups in the country at the moment: liberals, conservatives, libertarians and everybody else. You might equate liberal with Democrat and conservative with Republican. In some cases you'd be right, but not always.
The libertarian category tends to confuse me, depending on who I'm reading (or talking to) who espouses those particular beliefs. What I generally walk away thinking is "anarchists". Which is probably right in very few cases, wrong in most.
The "everybody else" category are a mixture of the first three, they may fall all over the political spectrum depending on the issue at hand. They will vote for the candidate who best represents what they support. Usually there is no one that fits that bill, so they choose the "lesser of two evils" or they stay at home on Election Day. Sometimes these folks have no clue as to what the issues are. They may vote a particular way because that's the way their parents voted or perhaps because a particular candidate just looks like them.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about liberalism, conservatism and libertarianism:
Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property.
Liberalism first became a distinct political movement during the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among philosophers and economists in the Western world. Liberalism rejected the notions, common at the time, of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The 17th century philosopher John Locke is often credited with founding liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition. Locke argued that each man has a natural right to life, liberty and property and according to the social contract, governments must not violate these rights. Liberals opposed traditional conservatism and sought to replace absolutism in government with representative democracy and the rule of law. The revolutionaries of the Glorious Revolution, American Revolution, segments of the French Revolution, and other liberal revolutionaries from that time used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of what they saw as tyrannical rule. The nineteenth century saw liberal governments established in nations across Europe, Spanish America, and North America. In this period, the dominant ideological opponent of liberalism was classical conservatism. During the twentieth century, liberal ideas spread even further, as liberal democracies found themselves on the winning side in both world wars. Liberalism also survived major ideological challenges from new opponents, such as fascism and communism. In Europe and North America, there was also the rise of social liberalism, which is related with social democracy in Europe. As such, the meaning of the word "liberalism" began to diverge in different parts of the world. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "In the United States, liberalism is associated with the welfare-state policies of the New Deal program of the Democratic administration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, whereas in Europe it is more commonly associated with a commitment to limited government and laissez-faire economic policies." Consequently in the U.S., the ideas of individualism and laissez-faire economics previously associated with classical liberalism, became the basis for the emerging school of right wing libertarian thought.
Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions. A person who follows the philosophies of conservatism is referred to as a traditionalist or conservative.
Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others, called reactionaries, oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were". The first established use of the term in a political context originated with François-René de Chateaubriand in 1818, during the period of Bourbon restoration that sought to roll back the policies of the French Revolution. The term, historically associated with right-wing politics, has since been used to describe a wide range of views. There is no single set of policies that are universally regarded as conservative, because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time. Thus conservatives from different parts of the world—each upholding their respective traditions—may disagree on a wide range of issues.
Edmund Burke, an 18th-century politician who opposed the French Revolution but supported the American Revolution, is credited as one of the main theorists of conservatism in Great Britain in the 1790s. According to Quintin Hogg, the chairman of the British Conservative Party in 1959, "Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself."
Libertarianism is a set of related political philosophies that uphold liberty as the highest political end. This includes emphasis on the primacy of individual liberty, political freedom, and voluntary association. It is an antonym of authoritarianism. Although libertarians share a skepticism of governmental authority, they diverge on the extent and character of their opposition. Different schools of libertarianism offer a range of views concerning the legitimate functions of government, while others contend that the state should not exist at all. For instance, minarchists propose a state limited in scope to preventing aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud, while anarchists advocate its complete elimination as a political system. While some libertarians advocate laissez-faire capitalism and private property rights, such as in land and natural resources, others wish to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production in favor of common or cooperative ownership and management.
Now as I read through those definitions above, I found bits and pieces in all three philosophies which I can embrace. In fact, sometimes I do. I'm a little bit liberal on some things, a little bit conservative on others and sometimes libertarian best describes my beliefs on some issues.
I think most people in this country are like that. But it's the howling maniacs who get all the air time and the press coverage. I don't believe that there are many people running this country now who believe in anything other than getting themselves re-elected.
Many of them are, in my view, opportunists, jackals, scavengers feeding on the American dream who produce nothing yet demand control over everything.
Their very vocal adherents seem to be everywhere. Do a Google Images search on "conservative versus liberal". Some of the things that came up made me sick to my stomach. We are letting the fanatics set the agenda. Screw them.
It's time that the more level headed folks woke up and set things back on track. The screaming fanatics have too much of a say these days. Come the election this fall, let's send home the money-grubbers, the beggars and the thieves. Of both parties. We have no need for professional politicians, most of whom haven't worked a real job in their entire lives.
Get informed and stay informed. Get out and vote but make sure you understand what you're voting for. Casting a ballot without knowledge is criminal. Not casting a ballot at all is treason. If you don't care enough about this country to vote, get out. Find some country where they either don't let you vote or they tell you how to vote, or else. We're heading that way if we don't wake up right now.
Let's toss the "usual suspects" out on their ears this fall. We don't need idiot politicians running this country into the ground. We need thoughtful and intelligent people who give a damn about the Constitution and their fellow citizens.
Remember, they work for us. Let's show 'em who's boss. This fall, let's clean house.
Okay, I'm done ranting and rambling. I need to go work on the Flyby...