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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I'm Not A Republican

As Judgement Day draws nearer (November 7, 2006) I think it is an appropriate time to revisit my political affiliation. When I talk to Republicans they often comment that I don't sound like a liberal, and they're right. When I talk to Democrats they often note that I don't sound like a liberal, and they're right. In fact, one of the very few things that my Democratic and Republican friends could agree upon is the fact that I think and sound much more like the people who constitute the Republican base than those who constitute the Democratic base. So why is it that I am a Democrat, and a partisan one at that? It's really not that complex:

NIGGER PLEASE
One doesn't have to actually utter the word "Nigger" to convey the thought associated with the word, much the same way that saying that a woman has Ann Coulter tendancies would be calling her a female dog without uttering the appropriate word, or commenting about the foreskin on a man's neck would convey the meaning without uttering the appropriate word. America's Pac, a Republican group that claims to be refuting the belief on the part of the Republican Party that they cannot attract the Black vote, recently aired an ad that featured the following dialog:

Amos: If you make a little mistake with one of your ‘hos,' you'll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked.
Andy: That's too cold. I don't snuff my own seed."
Amos: Maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican."

Now the ad doesn't actually name the speakers Amos & Andy, but they might as well have. The fact that someone alligned with the Republican Party would think that minstrel advertising would appeal to Blacks reveals either their contempt for Blacks or their absolute ignorance of Black culture. Based on the Republican Party's track record I would tend to believe the former, but if it is pure ignorance then it also shows their contempt of Blacks in that they didn't even bother to check with their target audience to see if it would be effective or offensive. Personally, I think they couldn't care less about Blacks and our votes - they simply want to show White suburbanites that today's Republicans are not Trent Lott racists since they do Black outreach. WTF ever.



SPIC N SPAN
Of course, Republican bigotry is not limited to Americans of African descent. A Congressional candidate in California named Tan Nguyen (Republican, of course) mailed out a letter to 14,000 Latino residents of Orange County which falsely claimed that immigrants could be subject to criminal penalties if they voted in a federal election and that anti-immigration groups would be able to access a federal computer system containing the names of those who vote in October and November. Aside from the fact that no such law or database exists this naked attempt at vote-suppression is normal for Republicans, be it through purging felons from the voting files (and anyone with a name similar to a felon, sorry Mrs. Jackson - I am for real) or through installing fewer voting machines in urban precincts than in suburban precincts or through opposing every initiative to make voting more accessible and verifyable. Mr. Nguyen operated in accordance with the Republican playbook, he just neglected one minor detail - you have to use shadow groups to do your dirt (e.g. Swift Boats or Club For Growth or America's PAC). Obviously, the County GOP has asked Mr. Nguyen to withdraw from the race, feigning righteous indignation at their candidate who had about as much chance of winning in that district as Barney Frank would have winning in Mississippi. SSDD. And Black Republicans are demonstrating that they understand the Jesse Helms playbook too:



Family Values
I affirm the ethical system that is commonly referred to as "Family Values" at every point, however I do not believe that it is the job of the government to enforce that ethical system. Our laws reflect all of our values, and I certainly believe that every American has the right to work toward persuading a majority of their fellow citizens to support laws that reflect their views and values, but I have a serious problem with people dragging the name of Jesus Christ into secular politics, as I have noted on several occasions (An Evangelical View On Progressive Politics; Religious Right And Wrong; Theocracy, Rapture, And You; Pharisees, Sadducees, & Scribes; et al.).

I especially have a problem with this overwrought focus on the family. I believe that the family is a practical and valuable entity, but the United States of America is organized around the individual - not the household - and unless one advocates a one-household-one-vote Constitutional Amendment (which would likely repeal the 19th Amendment in the process) it is impossible to logically assert the family as the primary organizing unit of society. Paychecks are cut to individuals, not families. Criminals are punished individually for their crimes, not their entire families. People are elected to office individually, hired for jobs individually, and sued in court individually, not bundled with their families. American society is based upon the individual, and how those individuals interact with each other should be of little interest to the government - every small-government conservative should affirm that without question, as I have already noted.

But does the fact that America is organized around the individual mean that Christians should simply shut up and say nothing about the value of families? Hardly, but valuing the family unit is not among my highest priorities and it ought not be among the highest priorities of Bible-believing Christians. Why not? The priorities of Christians ought to match the priorities of Jesus Christ, and Jesus commanded us to focus on His kingdom, saying, "...the pagans run after [material] things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." The things that we ought to prioritize are the things that will transcend this life, things that are eternal, like the salvation of men's souls. When we take an eternal view of secular politics is it abundantly clear just how futile all of this talk about families really is: there are no families in eternity, just individuals.

Say what?

Consider this discussion between the Sadducees and Jesus:
That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him with a question. "Teacher," they said, "Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?"

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
If there is no marriage in eternity then why are we so pressed about families here and now? When people try to redefine marriage into something that it has never been then we should certainly resist them, and when people try to equate moral turpitude with the union of one man and one woman we should certainly say No, but this is not an issue that requires any kind of priority. Marriage was instituted for the benefit of mankind - "It is not good for the man to be alone" - mankind was not created for the purpose of marriage. Marriage is a means to an end, not an end unto itself, much like the Sabbath. Who cares if three men want to call their intimate relationship a marriage - what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? It certainly does not conform with God's revealed design for mankind and a Christian should certainly reject it, but reject it and move on - it's not that important and it's certainly not enough to make me vote Republican.



ABORTION

I am Pro Life, I believe that human life begins at conception. This is something that would be expected of an Evangelical Christian such as myself, but the interesting thing is that my Pro Life stance has next to nothing to do with Christianity - the Bible is mostly silent on the question of abortion. Most of the Biblical passages that are used to support the position that human life begins at conception actually speak - in context - to God's foreknowledge and sovereignty, not to the nature and character of the baby in the womb:
The reason why I am Pro Life is because from the moment of conception there is no ontological difference between that baby and a full-grown adult besides growth and development. There is no point after conception where the baby "becomes" human, she is human from the moment a human genome is created - at conception - and as such it is just as wrong to kill her as it is to kill a full-grown vagabond by running over him with your car. No one else might ever know about the death of such an unknown individual but it is no less wrong. Ontologically, a human being is created at conception and the same laws that apply to killing any human being have to apply across the board to all human beings, be they newly conceived or terminally ill.

So how in the world could I vote for a Democrat? Simple - abortion is not a voting issue for me.

Say what?

If over a million children are being murdered every year with the approval of the government then abortion is not a voting issue, it is an overthrow the government issue. I don't think that too many people were impressed at Nuremburg when people said that they voted against the holocaust. When it comes to opposing abortion there is no middle of the road - either it's the murder of a million children a year, every year, or it's not. Either it is an evil practice that has to be eliminated immediately, by any means necessary, or it is merely the elimination of unwanted bio-matter. There is no middle way on abortion, yet suburbanites lack the courage of their convictions to actually do something about it. Soccer moms hate that babies are being slaughtered but they have to get Becky to practice - they'll just vote Republican and feel better about themselves for having struck a blow for the "good guys."

Let them comfort themselves with the ashes of Slavs, Gypsies and Jews from Auschwitz, because that's the end result of their voting - death and dismemberment. The Republicans have appointed ten (10) of the last twelve justices to the Supreme Court, and Republicans have appointed every Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the last 50 years, but Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. If the Republican Party was serious about ending abortion then they would have done it by now, but they are more interested in milking the issue than solving the problem.

But even if Roe v. Wade were overturned abortion would still be legal in America - the red states would immediately ban abortion and the blue states would immediately legalize abortion, leaving the purple states to fight it out. The GOP in purple states like Michigan and Pennsylvania tend to be more moderate, and concentrating the abortion fight in those battleground states - along with the money and volunteers that the national party craves - would strengthen a wing of the GOP that they have spent a generation trying to exterminate. The GOP has no interest in killing the goose that lays the golden campaign contributions or in resurrecting a dead wing of their party so they will keep abortion legal for as long as they can milk contributions from those who are long on expectations but short on personal commitment.

And yes, the Democrats do the same thing from the other side of the aisle.

And if you stop to think about it, both parties are full of male-bovine fecal material on the issue of abortion. It is the Republican Party which believes that government has no place in the private affairs of citizens. It is the Republican Party which believes that the government that governs least governs best. It is the Republican Party that should be articulating the Pro Choice argument, yet they take the opposite position. Why?

The Democratic Party seems to have no problem with the idea of creating a new branch of government to save some helpless creature against the wiles of the powerful, so why is it that the Democrats are absent when the most helpless of all needs someone to stand up for them? It is the Democratic Party which believes in an active government that protects the disenfranchized against the decision-makers. It is the Democratic Party which believes in protecting the least of these even if that means limiting the options of others who already have that which the least of these are trying to achieve - LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - yet Democrats side against the most helpless of all, unborn babies. Why?

The answer in both instances is the same - constituency.

When abortion became a big issue in the 60s and 70s the feminists and others who were pushing for abortion on demand were already solidly in the camp of the Democrats, so the Democrats ignored their governing philosophy and adjusted to accommodate the desires of their core constituency. The Republicans were beginning to welcome a flood of Southerners who were abandoning the Democratic Party in droves after Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress and signed it into law, and the Southern Baptists were (and are) among the most committed in their opposition to abortion, and the Republicans weren't going to alienate their new constituency by maintaining fidelity to their governing philosophy so they adjusted to accommodate the desires of their new constituency. Political parties are about winning elections, not philosophical consistency, so they focused on what was important to winning elections - their constituencies - and they've ensured that the gravy train of money and volunteers continues to flow by keeping Roe v. Wade on the books and blocking any initiative that would decrease the demand for abortions. "They" being Democrats and Republicans.

And nobody dares mention fertility clinics which potentially kill as many unborn babies as abortion clinics...

When it's all said and done, both the Democrats and the Republicans are full of crap regarding the issue of abortion - neither party has any interest in ending abortion, and those who claim to viscerally oppose abortion have no intention of actually doing anything about it other than sending the Republicans millions of dollars and hundreds of volunteers. Nothing is going to change when it comes to abortion - I give you the last 30 years as proof-positive - so for me, at the end of the day, abortion is not a voting issue.

Two tears in a bucket...




ECONOMICS
If there is a measure of debate regarding my party affiliation when it comes to social issues then there is no debate as to where I stand on economic matters - I solidly stand in solidarity with those who work for a living, with those who have to earn their keep, with those who have to struggle to make ends meet. Without question I side with the Have Nots over the Have Gots inasmuch as it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, specifically regarding:

The Minimum Wage and Welfare
Slavery was abolished with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, but it is still in effect today. In slavery the master provided for the slaves' food, clothing, and shelter and the slave worked whenever the master scheduled them to work. Today's wage slaves are paid just enough to cover their food, clothing and shelter, and they haven't had a raise in a decade, such that many people end up worse off if they try to leave welfare in order to get a McJob. It just so happens that the Republicans have controlled Congress for the last decade, and while they have made every effort to cut taxes on the Have Gots they have done nothing for the Have Nots, and they never will. It's almost like they've never heard the words of Jesus, where He said:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Jesus: bleeding-heart liberal...


Taxes
For as long as I can remember Republicans have been proclaiming the need to lower taxes, but one thing that I have never heard from Republicans is what they believe to be a fair level of taxation. There is one Republican who has been honest enough to say outright that which today's Republicans imply - Steve Forbes. The Republicans ultimately want to eliminate the progressive scale of taxation whereby poor people are taxed a smaller percentage of their income than are the wealthy. Republicans want a flat tax because they no longer hold to the belief that was once unquestioned in America and indeed throughout the civilized world - noblesse oblige. From a practical standpoint it is certainly true that the wealthy benefit more from a stable society than do the poor, therefore they should pay a higher percentage. The police protect life, liberty and property from theft and it isn't the poor who are at risk of having property stolen. A stable society bolsters the position of the wealthy at the top of the economic food chain - keeping them from Marie Antoinette's fate - so it only makes sense for them to pay a disproportionate percentage since they benefit disroportionately from a stable society. Today's Republicans want no part of a progressive tax code and they have no fear of a popular uprising, "Oderint Dum Metuant" having replaced "E Pluribus Unum" as the nation's motto under the GOP.

Health Care
The United States of America is the only industrialized nation in the world without some form of univeral health care. Even Costa Rica has universal health care, and there is a relatively simple way for the United States to implement it here: if the federal government were to remove the enrollment restrictions from Medicaid then we would instantly have universal health care, corporations would no longer need to foot the cost of medical insurance for their employees, and if the increases in taxes were entirely absorbed by the corporate employers and everyone who was on commercial health insurance switched to Medicaid then the corporate employers would find themselves with a windfall of roughly $2000 per employee and family member covered per year. Consider the numbers:
Medicaid Members (2004): 42.4 million
Medicaid Budget (2004): $173 billion
Medicaid cost per member (2004): $4080
Medicaid cost if extended to every US Citizen (300 million people): $1.224 trillion
Current corporate spending on employee health benefits: $1.8 trillion

Savings: $576 billion each and every year, not counting the $250 billion annual savings from Medicare

Sources:
Medicaid At A Glance
Health Insurance Costs
Cost Of Inaction
Bush FY 2004 Medicare Budget
If the increase of taxes were split between employers and employees then corporations would realize an even greater windfall, yet the Republicans would never support such a proposition since it has as it's primary concern the well-being of people instead of the well-being of profits. There's a really simple equation when it comes to health care:

Profit Motive + Inelastic Demand Curve = Exploitation

Only in America.


Labor
The right of workers to collectively bargain is non-negotiable, both in the public and private spheres. On this fundamental principle I will never waver - there is nothing to discuss - and that has no place in the GOP. Neither do I.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 7:15 AM

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