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Archive for the ‘Political Polarization’ Category

I was browsing about on the web, looking how to officially leave the Republican Party, and I found this statement on the Libertarian Party’s national website.  It sort of confirms what I said about the “Tea Party” in some of my previous posts.

Looking toward the 9/12 Tea Party events in Washington, DC, Libertarian Party executive director Wes Benedict issued the following warning to Tea Partiers: “Republicans are trying to fool you again.””There are two kinds of Tea Partiers,” said Benedict. “One kind is so blinded by its hatred of Obama and Democrats that it cannot see fault with Republicans. It’s the other kind the Libertarian Party is reaching out to.”

Libertarian Party staff and volunteers will participate in the Washington, DC Tea Party events on September 12. They will distribute flyers pointing out how the Top 10 Disasters of the 2009-2010 Obama administration mirror the Top 10 Disasters of the 2001-2008 Bush administration.

Benedict continued, “Libertarians have much in common with Tea Party goals of reducing government spending and taxes. While many Tea Party supporters will admit that George W. Bush’s administration grew government, Libertarians want to remind Tea Partiers about previous Republican administrations that loved big government.

“Republican Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America promised to eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy. Yet once Republicans took control of Congress, they failed even to reduce the spending on those departments.

“Republican President George Bush, Sr. remains famous for coining the phrase ‘Read my lips, no new taxes,’ and then raising taxes.

“Republican President Ronald Reagan grew federal government spending to the highest level it had reached since World War II. He also ‘saved Social Security’ by raising payroll taxes.

“Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole was a huge supporter of taxpayer subsidies for corn and ethanol.

“In 1971, Republican President Richard Nixon instituted wage and price controls. That made a group of free-market supporters so angry that they decided to form the Libertarian Party.

“Republicans seem to think we’re idiots. For decades they have paid lip-service to shrinking government, while consistently doing the opposite in office.

“Our fear is that Tea Partiers might say ‘This time it will be different.’ No it won’t. If you vote for Republicans this time, it will just reinforce the message that they can lie to you and grow government with impunity.

“Current Republicans are just as bad as past Republicans.

“This year, Libertarian Party co-founder David Nolan is running for U.S. Senate against Republican John McCain, who famously suspended his 2008 presidential campaign so he could rush back to Washington to bail out the banks.

“Republican leader John Boehner might end up as the next House Speaker, and he voted for George W. Bush’s huge 2003 Medicare expansion.

“John Cornyn, Republican senator from Texas, and current chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, voted for the TARP bailouts.

“Ron Paul is probably the only Republican congressman willing to point out the huge cost of America’s foreign wars and empire building. Other Republicans pretend that spending trillions on the military just doesn’t count as big government.

“With Social Security, Medicare, and military spending making up the vast majority of federal spending, you can’t cut significantly without cutting those. But Republicans refuse to touch them.

“Libertarians welcome the Tea Party movement’s focus on the problem of government growth. However, we are concerned that Tea Partiers might fall for the Republicans’ trickery.

“Republican leaders have brought up distractions like New York City mosques and gay marriage to distract voters from Republicans’ big-government track record. We hope that Tea Partiers will see through the smoke and mirrors.

“While our nation is declining dangerously right now, a turnaround could be straightforward and simple with Libertarian steps like these: 1. Bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan; 2. Stop rewarding failed companies with bailouts; 3. Cut taxes and spending and let the free market work.

“The Libertarian Party is fielding 168 candidates for U.S. House, and 20 candidates for U.S. Senate this year. Win or lose, a vote for a Libertarian sends a clear message for smaller government and more freedom. What message does a vote for John McCain send?”

For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.

The LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets and civil liberties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website.

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It seems to me that there are two vehicles driving toward the goal of limited government.

One is the Libertarian movement, and the other is the Tea Party movement.

The Libertarians advocate true liberty in the most consistent sense: maximized civil and economic liberty.  They advocate laissez faire economics and Classical Liberalism.  They have fewer ties to the political Left and Right, but rather they are their own entity.

The Tea Party Movement also advocates liberty.  However, it is often difficult to see which kinds they advocate.  They undoubtedly advocate the fiscal conservatism that the Libertarians advocate.  However, to me it seems that their stance on civil liberties is murky.  Unlike the Libertarian movement, the Tea Party appears to be a wing of the political Right, rather than being its own entity.  Therefore, the Tea Party might be a movement within the Right Wing to economically liberalize.  I am undoubtedly for that economic liberalization, though I may not agree with their stance on civil liberties.

I think it would help the Tea Party to become more organized rather than being a political guerrilla group.  Though the Tea Party seems to prefer the disorganization, I think it makes them look less than legitimate.  Like the Libertarians, they should advocate various ideologies that suit them rather than dressing as Founding Fathers.  Also, I think they should attempt to distance themselves from the far political Right and more toward the more moderate Libertarians, or else they will probably never be elected to political office.

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Most often, I don’t know what to think of the Tea Party Movement.

I do believe in small, limited Federal government.

However, I reject Nativism in that I am generally pro-immigration.  I think that people that pledge allegiance to the United States of America and work a job to that end should be given citizenship.  I think that the Tea Party Movement rejects immigrants for the basic fact that they are immigrants.  I reject such hypocrisy because I am the great-grandson and the great-great-great grandson of immigrants from Slovakia (Austria-Hungary) and Ireland (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) respectively.  I believe that if a person seeks to work and pay his way in America, then he should be allowed to work in America.

I do agree with many of the tenets and symbols that the Tea Party Movement embraces, such as the Gadsden Flag.  However, I do believe that the Tea Party Movement still advocates big governmental action in many personal issues areas with which I would not agree.

For instance, mainstream Libertarians would advocate gay marriage on grounds that is not the government’s role to regulate marriage.  Tea Partier’s might say that gay marriage is not ideal, and that is an aspect of live that the government should regulate.

Also, as people either fail or refuse to recognize, the Grand Ol Party professes to advocate small government but, in fact, does the opposite.  Republicans support the Bush White House’s actions, which increased the national debt by approximately $4 trillion.  This $4 trillion was used to strengthen strong central government.  For this reason, I believe the Tea Party should advocate a 3rd Party.  However, I don’t think it has been trying to advocate a 3rd party.

We have a two party system in America, and I think the Tea Party would naturally advocate the Republican party because of its ideological alignment.  However, I think they should not ally with the Republicans because of this $4 trillion hike in government debt.  I thought Conservatives were supposed to “conserve” and not spend on nation-building and programs that strengthen the Federal government and weaken state and local governments.

For these reasons, I think that the Tea Party movement is a misguided political force that needs to find direction.  I also think that the Tea Party should find an ideology and stick to it.  Saying that one is for Constitutional liberty, and then pushing to deny Muslims to build a community center is just hypocritical.  One is either an advocate of the Constitution, or not.

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From some of my previous posts, you can probably tell that I think that the two party system divides our nation.  I think that people that identify themselves as either a “typical Republican” or a “typical Democrat” have no real idea of what that means.

What does that even mean?  What does it mean to be a to be either a “typical Republican” or a “typical Democrat?”  There certainly are stigmas associated with both parties.  When someone thinks of Republicans, one probably thinks anti-immigration, anti-gun control, pro-war, pro-deregulation, etc.  People also sometimes associate Republicans with the South, with Rednecks, with being resistant to change and holding provincial viewpoints.  And when thinking of Democrats, one likely thinks pro-gun control, anti-war, pro-regulation, etc.  Similarly, people often associate Democrats with Hippies, with academia, and with the entertainment industries.

How can this typecasting be positive?  People often apply these stereotypes to anyone that identify with either party without even hearing anything about what they actually believe.  The mainstream Republican party is wrongly identified as advocating small government.  The Bush White House vastly expanded the Federal Government with No Child Left Behind, and the economic stimulus package of our current recession.  In the same way, the Democratic party is wrongly identified as “liberal” when they discourage freer markets and advocate laws intended to curb people’s behavior.

In my opinion, our country should allow the entry of more political factions.  People may think that this would further divide our country, but I do not think it would.  What it would do is stop people from pegging people with a rigid package of ideologies when they identify with a certain party.  That is what I think would help stop the polarization of our society.  Many more that two political ideologies and philosophies exist; I think we owe it to ourselves to establish more than two parties with which to identify.

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I have many pet peeves, but this one relates to the political polarization of Americans.  People that I hear discussing politics often label themselves as either liberal or conservative.  In my opinion, they know little of what these two terms mean, and are unaware that the political spectrum is more than two dimensional.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, liberal means:

1 a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <liberal education> b archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth
2 a : marked by generosity : openhanded <a liberal giver> b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal> c : ample, full
3 obsolete : lacking moral restraint : licentious
4 : not literal or strict : loose <a liberal translation>
5 : broad-minded; especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
6 a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives

Nowhere in these definitions is a connection to the “political left wing.”

The same goes for conservative.  According to Merriam-Webster.com:

1 : preservative
2 a : of or relating to a philosophy of conservatism b capitalized : of or constituting a political party professing the principles of conservatism: as (1) : of or constituting a party of the United Kingdom advocating support of established institutions (2) : progressive conservative
3 a : tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions : traditional b : marked by moderation or caution <a conservative estimate> c : marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners
4 : of, relating to, or practicing Conservative Judaism

Again, nowhere in these dictionary entries is a mention of the “political right wing.”

So, what does this mean?

The terms “liberal” and “conservative” are misnomers when describing political ideologies and positions.  The use of these terms to describe political positions also suggests that the political spectrum is two-dimensional.

Political scientist David Nolan developed the Nolan Chart; the chart divides all decisions based on personal/social and economic freedom.  Those advocating no freedom in any respect are considered statists or totalitarians (i.e. Stalin).  Those advocating freedoms in all respects are considered libertarians (i.e. Ron Paul).  Remember, there are always varying degrees of all of these ideologies.

The political right (not necessarily conservative) advocates more economic freedom but less personal freedom.  The political left (not necessarily liberal) advocates the opposite: more personal freedom but less economic freedom.

This method of classifying political ideologies makes sense in my opinion.  For example, “conservatives” are not always conservative because they often advocate free trade policies (liberalism).  “Liberals,” in the same way, are not always liberal because they advocate laws that are intended to control people’s behavior (conservatism).

To see where you stand, take “The World’s Smallest Political Quiz” (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz or http://www.politicalcompass.org/) (based on the Nolan Chart).  You might surprise yourself.  If this interests you further, take a look at these Nolan Charts showing the ideological standings of our current House of Representatives (http://www.freedomdemocrats.org/node/812) and historical and some current politicians (http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2).

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