Thursday, January 08, 2009

If you lie down with dogs, you pick up fleas

I am an idiosyncratic person and I tend to spend an inordinate amount of time defending my political opinions from those who think I should fit in a box (preferably their box). Liberals (which are not bad) think that I am too conservative. Conservatives (also not necessarily a bad thing to be, if you genuinely are and don't just identify yourself as that) obviously think that I am way to "liberal" (especially if they're at all religious) although more often than not, those who identify themselves as "conservative" wouldn't know a REAL liberal if one bit them.

Comedian Mort Sahl once said that if you "maintain a consistent political position for too long in this country, you'll eventually be tried for treason."

Kurt Vonnegut once noted that "Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative."

I want people to know that while yes, I'm a registered Democrat, and yes, I voted for Barack Obama and intend to give him a chance because I believe he is both more intelligent and more empathetic than George Bush, I am who I am, an independent thinker, responsible practitioner of representative democracy, and a deeply devout disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of the one and only living God, but I am not any kind of ideologue and I resent being labeled and compartmentalized almost more than I resent being pressured to conform to anyone's box.

So, as someone who- believe it or not-is fairly conservative on many issues and a deeply committed Christian, may I present the following cartoon critique of the Republican coalition:

This cartoon is how I see the Republican Party. Not all Republicans themselves, mind you. Many of my closest friends and best loved relatives are Republicans, and they are basically very good people with pure hearts and the very best intentions. But let's face it- as the cartoon points out, those religious and social conservatives are "in bed" with corrupt corporatism, and plenty of other unsavory characters.

Friends, readers, neighbors, and relations- if you are passionately identifying yourself with the Republican party or if you are zealously judgmental, intolerant or even just over enthusiastically skeptical of Democrats, Progressives, and Liberals of any stripe- beware. The conservative movement, Right-wing talk radio, and a few false prophets on TV want to continue to use wedge issues to make you think that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Think for yourselves instead. Evaluate policies, projects, proposals and people individually on a pragmatic, case-by-case basis. Be skeptical. The Republican Party likes to "use religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon."

Hey, I believe in a balanced budget and reducing deficits and the debt. I believe in protecting American industry and American jobs. I love Jesus and attend church every week, I don't condone drugs or promiscuity. You'd THINK that that would make me a "conservative." But I believe in the little guy and the small town, the mom and pop business, and the family farm. I believe in oversight and accountability (AKA regulation) and it seems that in this day and age, at least in the area that I live in, I'm considered a "LIBERAL Democrat." As if that were some great sin.

I don't believe in abortion- makes me conservative, but I recognize that rape, incest and life threatening complications ought to be exceptions to any prohibition of abortion. Besides, human nature being what it is in a sinful world, people will still seek abortions if they were outlawed, and the idea of going back to a time of coat hanger abortions makes me cringe. So I can life with permitting clean, safe, legal abortions in the first trimester. For some people that makes me an unforgivable godless liberal monster.

Interpreting the Constitution in such a way that "reproductive rights" and more importantly, a right to privacy is implicit may not be "strict construction," but by most definitions, Washington, Jefferson, and even more so Lincoln were liberal.

I believe that by definition, marriage involves one man and one woman. You can call a coup a sedan, but it still only has two doors. This makes me conservative, some would even call me a bigot. On the other hand, I believe that constitutionally, we cannot deny anyone equal rights and opportunities under the law. If two consenting adults have been living in a monogamous, committed relationship, we cannot legally and should not deny them insurance benefits, tax status and spousal rights. That, no doubt makes me a "flaming" liberal.

Sorry, but neither my marriage or my faith are in the least bit threatened by permitting homosexuals their civil rights. Frankly, that's a VERY "strict" interpretation of the Constitution and while people may thing it opens up the door for a more permissive society, it is actually a very conservative approach to civil matters.

So think about it. Do we really put "Country First," before our party or political affiliation? Do we put God first and Country second? Can we be bi-partisan? Can we live in a post-partisan time?

Maybe I'm not being fair to the Bush or the GOP, but watch and listen over the next few months- how fair is FOX and O'Rielly and Limbaugh to the Dems or Obama?

Is it eye-for-an-eye? Or Turn the other cheek?

My Jesus speaks to us in Matthew 5 in a sermon on the mount, not from pamphlets and voter guides or from a microphone on TV or talk radio. He speaks of love, forgiveness, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control- not anger, exclusion, rendition, deportation, shock and awe, retaliation, illegal surveillance and controlling others.

Maybe I'm wrong, and you're entitled to think so, but aren't I entitled to be wrong too?

Think about it.

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