Posted by: Jim | April 12, 2004

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Consiberal Libervative

This just in from the Compartment Department.

When people ask me “Are you Republican or Democrat?” My answer used to be “Neither, I’m a Libertarian.” Recently, however, I realized that the Libertarian party, while well-meaning and often correct in its policy, isn’t exactly perfect and is definitely the purveyor of kooks. So now my answer is, “Ummm … uhhhh … I dunno. Neither?”

So if people ask me “Are you Left or Right”? I have to ask them what they mean. Those euphemisms are highly subjective. For a woman’s rights activist, one might assume that the “left” are the good guys and the “right” should all be castrated. Same for a free speech advocate, minus the castration part. Switch ‘em for someone who wants lower taxes. “Left” and “right” are a conglomeration of assumptions that are quite ambiguous, and I think fairly issues-based in their definition.

Often when I ask people to define left or right, the quick comeback is “Are you conservative or liberal?” In the interest of being a consistent pain in the ass, I am forced once again to ask people what they mean by that. Outside of the definition-by-example of using Republicans and Democrats, most people don’t really know what conservative or liberal mean. Sometimes people over-simplify that liberal means that you think “more stuff is okay” and that conservative implies that you are more traditional. Again, this is issues based in its definition.

The earliest and most-heated argument during the forming of the United States was whether the bulk of power should reside with the states, or with the Federal government. Likewise, a more powerful government (state, federal or otherwise) tends to limit the freedoms of the individual. So it follows that one definition of liberal and conservative is this: A liberal interprets the Constitution (and the powers granted therein to the government) “liberally” and a conservative does so “conservatively”. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. The fallout is that liberals want a bigger, more powerful government, and the conservatives want a more restricted, smaller government.

By this definition, which is almost entirely arcane and never intended, I am most certainly a conservative. Woohoo!

But most of these terms used today are rife with contradiction. Does a conservative want less government, as evidenced by their emphasis on lower taxes? Then why do they impugn legislation reflecting their moral agenda on gays, women, and “consensual criminals”?

If our nation is polarized, as so many say, then it’s also confused, which so many are also saying.

As for me, I take each issue on its own merit, and vote based on the virtues of those running. I have core principles that I always apply, but those core principles aren’t represented by any political party or geographical spot on the political map.

Perhaps not coincidentally … I’m ambidextrous.

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