I was recently asked on Twitter by a seemingly resolute Conservative, what drew me to "lean" politically to the Left? This guy from the Right and I had jousted a bit about the term "Nationalism". My point being that the power drunk dictators of the mid 20th century had corrupted this term to the point of no return. Political strongmen like Hitler and Mussolini during WWII and ever since have used this term to build national hate against outsiders and immigrants in the guise of national or even patriotic pride.
Take the word "Gay". No one goes to a party and says "I feel so gay now that my football team won this weekend". Gay used to mean happy. It actually still does. But nobody hears it that way. The definition has changed over time.
The definition of Nationalism has also changed, except for the worse. It may have meant something less toxic at some point in the past, but not anymore.
Anyway, back to his question. He seems intelligent and thoughtful. He was tough but respectful in his rhetoric. So I decided to give it a try. However, this question is not an easy one to answer briefly. Many ideas are involved. Many beliefs. Dogma can’t always be described in a meme or a Mission Statement.
Let me preface all of this by saying I am a Patriot. I love this country. I love the people, the customs, the television shows and characters, the jokes, cable news, hot dogs, apple pie and soft tacos.
Politically aware at very young age, I realized early on that there are few altruistic reasons for people to be involved in Politics. Just about EVERYONE is in it for POWER or MONEY. Or Both.
I figured if both sides were flawed, I’d support the side that supported more of what I felt was good for American society.
What are those things? What makes any society better, or defines a society. One thing I notice when traveling abroad is the difference in how certain parts of society are treated. The OLD. The SICK. The POOR. People of differing RACIAL & CULTURAL backgrounds. The LGBTQ Community, MINORITIES, IMMIGRANTS, the MIDDLE CLASS. And finally, SMALL and MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESSES.
It really doesn’t matter how the rich are treated, or big Corporations. Why? Because they will always come out alright. And they are, almost always, treated well.
I could write out all of the points that make a Conservative a Conservative, and why I disagree. But then this essay would be five times longer than it eventually will be in that case. However, I’m just going to try to explain why I am not a Conservative. Why I "lean" left.
I won’t support a party that ignores scientists who say that global warming might be natural, but its effects are made much worse because of man-made climate change, and a party that says those scientists (97% of all scientists) have political agendas.
I won’t support a party that says immigrants from central America are just coming to vote for the Dems, but Cuban immigrants are welcome so come on in! (I wonder which Party most Cubans vote for?). I won’t support a party that will turn away poor, desperate refugees fleeing drug gangs and kidnappers coming for their children, due to political problems in those countries most often caused by our government over the years, all the way back to Reagan. I won’t support a party that wants to use refugees as a hammer to drive home fear upon the middle class to keep them from realizing what the rich and corporations are doing to their stagnant wages, higher tax rates and lack of state and federal government resources that would normally be there to help them. I won’t support a party that wants to build a wall. Ancient technology. A $40 Billion Wall (over the first two years including maintenance) that can be breached with a $250 ladder, a $50 blanket and $40 bolt cutters. 50% of all undocumented immigrants come by Airplane and overstay their visa. A wall can’t stop airplanes. But you can spend a lot of money on technological advances including night vision apparatus, drones, laser security trip lines, digital wireless camera systems, off road vehicles, more border patrol, and more immigration/refugee justices. Cheaper and better. But not as effective a political statement.
I won’t support a political party that says Marijuana is a schedule ONE drug, but Cocaine is a schedule 2, all because they have investments in Prisons for Profit and the more minority drug users incarcerated the better. Even though all scientific evidence shows that NO ONE has ever died from a Marijuana overdose, and that it has Medicinal qualities that could put some Pharmaceutical companies out of business.
I won’t support a party that believes that spending more than at least the next 8 lesser-spending nations COMBINED (six of which are supposedly allies) for Defense Spending is STILL too little, without looking at corruption and mishandling of the budget, then ignoring the needs of the VETS and their families.
I won’t support a political party that believes that profit is more important than the environment. Conservatives want the federal government out of our hair. As little restrictions to business and commerce, life and liberty, as possible. Less regulation that stymies production, research and development, and profits. The environment? Can’t let that get in the way of the American Dream. Global Warming/Climate Change is a political ploy to undermine Big Oil and American Energy Independence. (Sigh).
I won’t support a political party that believes that quality internet access is only for those who can afford to pay a premium.
I won't support a political party that doesn't believe that the LGBTQ community should have the right to marriage equality. Exactly how does two people of the same sex falling in love and marrying each other affect another non-LGBTQ life? It doesn't. Period.
I won’t support a political party that doesn’t believe in a living minimum wage. Conservatives see the minimum wage as an unsustainable tax on small business. A yoke on American profits and fuel for unemployment. Take away the minimum wage, and you all but eliminate unemployment. Wrong. If you can’t pay a living wage to an employee, maybe your business can’t afford an employee. Not every business is meant for survival or success.
I won’t support a political party that is embraced by the American Nazi Party, the KKK, White Nationalists and most outwardly racist and bigoted people.
I won’t support a party that says that a Woman has no right to make choices about her body and an unborn fetus or non-viable life that she carries, even in cases or rape or incest. I don’t personally believe that a fetus is a viable life, but I believe in having limits on when abortions can be done….not on religious basis, but on scientific ones. If life begins at conception, then we’re way off on when we celebrate birthdays.
I won’t support a party that wants to make voting harder, not easier. A party that would impose an unconstitutional Poll Tax by requiring IDs that are not supplied by the State or Federal Government at no charge to all citizens. Many liberals don't even like this idea. Universal and permanent voter registration for all citizens might be the answer.
I won’t support a party that doesn’t believe in the Separation of Church and State. Freedom of Religion? Check. And freedom FROM religion. A single religion has no place in government or public property. If so, then Satanists get to put their shit up next to the 10 commandments. Otherwise we really will have Sharia Law.
I won’t support a party that believes in Health Care for Profit. Prisons for Profit. Police and Fire Departments for Profit. Street maintenance for profit. National Parks and a Military for Profit. You get the idea.
I won’t support a party that turns its back on the poor, old and sick. Many Conservatives see the Welfare and Assistance for the Poor in this country as a cesspool of fraud and corruption. Even though numerous studies and reports say that fraud in these programs runs less than 3% nationally, Conservatives cling to anecdotal evidence that these programs serve mostly to fund Welfare Queens. However, its always better to keep the poor healthy, rather than have sick people make healthy people sick too.
I won’t support a party that believes in Corporate Welfare, the trickle down economic theory. I don’t want to hear about the trickle down theory. Give the job makers tax breaks and they’ll make more jobs? Bullshit. When Reagan expounded on this old yarn, GHW Bush called it “Voo-doo Economics”. He was right. Corporations and Business owners who get big tax windfalls use it on three things. 1) Stock buy backs 2) CEO/Management Bonuses 3) Political donations to Republican Senators/Congressmen to grease the wheels for more tax breaks. We saw it happen in the 80s, and all over again this year. Why else would Trump start promising a “middle class” tax break when the last one was supposed to cover the Middle Class? Companies give jobs for one reason…profit. Taxes cannot make creating a job unprofitable, since ONLY profits are taxed. Any job that makes them money is a job they will make. It’s more dependent on international market forces, interest rates, inflation and the bond markets than tax breaks. Conservatives want to give tax breaks to the rich and large Corporations, at the expense of the middle class. I’m personally a big believer in NO ONE making less than $100,000 NET paying income taxes. I could be talked into bringing it down to $65,000. Zero. And anyone making over $250,000 NET should begin a progressive tax from 25% to 50%. There’s no reason for us not to tax Corporations and the rich who are used to paying an effective tax rate of less than 15% while middle class taxpayers are often stuck at 20-25%.
Could we ever find common ground? Maybe. But....
Republicans are experts in presenting their platform in a very nice blue light. Pretty.
Law and Order! Who doesn’t support law and order? The difference is that the left is onto the trick of imprisonment of minorities for marijuana, while white cocaine users get fines. More prisoners, more prisons, less quality, so more private prisons for profit. Enter people like Trump and Jeff Sessions owning large amount of Stock in Prisons for Profit.
Strong Borders! Again, we agree. But you can spend a billion $ on technological advances including night vision apparatus, drones, laser security trip lines, digital wireless camera systems, off road vehicles, more border patrol, and more immigration/refugee justices. Not a $30 Billion Wall that will require at least $2 Billion per year in maintenance the first five years.
The Military! Wow, this is getting old agreeing with the Right’s platform. Where we disagree is on allotment of the budget. The Republicans are tied to defense contractors who pay a lot of lobbyists to get contracts that make them rich, and require a blind eye to corruption, price gouging and low quality production. Dems want to reduce the spending but make it pay for more in quality and quantity. Why? Because they’re so sweet and nice? Nope, because that gives them the money to spend on Social Security and MediCare and that’s where their votes come from. (this is where you Conservatives can roll your eyes and sigh “welfare giveaways”. There are studies upon studies that you will never believe that welfare fraud, like voter fraud, is extremely low…could be lower, but nowhere close to the anecdotal crisis that the Right cries about)
What else? Religion? Political Correctness? Probably not.
Yes, the Left owes blood money to Unions. But the Right owes big time to Pharmaceuticals, Big Oil, Corporations, and Big Religion.
I’ll stick to the left.
Remember, it’s not Democrat vs Republican. Its progressive liberal vs. conservative regressive. There are lots of progressive Republicans that have become Never Trumpers. There are still regressive Democrats who are tied too closely (in my view) to their religion, which is not the problem. Its that they want to tie that religion to politics and government policy. That can’t happen. That’s Sharia Law.
I realize this won’t sway conservatives to the left. I only want to demonstrate that not all Liberal Progressives believe in OPEN BORDERS, GUN CONFISCATION/REPEAL OF THE 2ND AMENDMENT, ABORTION ON DEMAND AT NINE MONTHS, the starving of the Military budget, or COMMUNISM. Some do. No doubt about it. But they’re still on the fringe. There are fringe dwellers and extremists on both sides.
The biggest difference between the fringes on the Left and on the Right? The Left manages their fringe pretty well. They exist, but pretty much only on Fox News Breaking News Reports.
The Right elects theirs to office.