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Political Party Stances are Completely Arbitrary

Mikkel

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Now we all know the basic principles of each political party. Liberals are for big government with lots of spending, but want no governmental intervention when it comes to social issues in the name of preserving freedom. Conservatives are for small government and less spending, but generally try to restrict social liberties in the name of preserving values.

But how the Republicans and Democrats got where they are today is a very strange and confusing story. I argue that aside from the larger ideological definitions of each party, many sides taken on issues dealt with today were actually arbitrarily chosen by one person or another in the past.

For instance, before the Civil Rights act in 1964 there was sympathy for the Civil Rights movement in both parties, as well as strong desegregationist members of each party. The Democrats had the Solid South, with many members who were extremely socially conservative. Oddly enough, neither party took an official stance on the issue until Republican Barry Goldwater, who had voted against the 1964 Civil Rights act, ran for president. After that, the Republican party was the party of desegregationists, and the Democratic party took the opposite stance. The result was a large demographic switch that didn't really finish until Bill Clinton left office.

Another example is the issue of Abortion. Before 1973, abortion was not such a strongly debated issue. It was a state matter and pro life groups hadn't yet mobilized. At the time, the Republican party was made up primarily of middle to upper class citizens, really the only people who would have the money to pay for an abortion, and were therefore more likely to exercise their reproductive rights. So at before this point, Republicans were actually more pro-choice. The Republican leaders at this time, however, were not pro-choice. Richard Nixon and his Supreme Court appointee, Harry Blackman, who authored Roe led the party in a different direction. By the time Reagan was elected in 1980 as a pro-life candidate (despite having a pro-choice VP) the parties had already aligned themselves behind the leaders of the time, and Republicans became pro-life and Democrats pro-choice.

These are just two examples of a myriad of issues dating back to slavery. The point I'm trying to make is that party stances on new issues aren't alwasy immediately clear, and where each party falls is often quite random. A more contemporary example is the rise of Neo-Conservatism. The Republican party is beginning to abandon the traditional conservative ideology by upping government spending on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while cutting taxes. No balanced budget at all.

Considering party stances on issues that frame the course of politics today are chosen at random, I find it impossible for someone to say that their party is right about everything, don't you? Things could have easily gone the other way with abortion or civil rights or gay rights, and would have that been wrong? I don't think so, it would just be different.

So when debating on this forum, try to remember that ideology is made up of hundreds of separate issues, many of which are independent of one another. To make such accusations such as 'liberals are mentally challenged' or 'conservatives are evil' is a gross misunderstanding of our political history and culture. Yet I see such threads every day and am baffled at the arrogance and thick headedness that it represents. Why debate if you aren't open to new ideas? If we're ever going to grow as a society we need to remain pragmatic, and open to new and different ideas.

Please let me know what all of you think. After all, why else post this, right?

Source:
Stimson, James A. Tides of Consent. Cambridge Books: 2004
 

Technocratic_Utilitarian

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Mikkel said:
Now we all know the basic principles of each political party. Liberals are for big government with lots of spending, but want no governmental intervention when it comes to social issues in the name of preserving freedom. Conservatives are for small government and less spending, but generally try to restrict social liberties in the name of preserving values.

But how the Republicans and Democrats got where they are today is a very strange and confusing story. I argue that aside from the larger ideological definitions of each party, many sides taken on issues dealt with today were actually arbitrarily chosen by one person or another in the past.

For instance, before the Civil Rights act in 1964 there was sympathy for the Civil Rights movement in both parties, as well as strong desegregationist members of each party. The Democrats had the Solid South, with many members who were extremely socially conservative. Oddly enough, neither party took an official stance on the issue until Republican Barry Goldwater, who had voted against the 1964 Civil Rights act, ran for president. After that, the Republican party was the party of desegregationists, and the Democratic party took the opposite stance. The result was a large demographic switch that didn't really finish until Bill Clinton left office.

Another example is the issue of Abortion. Before 1973, abortion was not such a strongly debated issue. It was a state matter and pro life groups hadn't yet mobilized. At the time, the Republican party was made up primarily of middle to upper class citizens, really the only people who would have the money to pay for an abortion, and were therefore more likely to exercise their reproductive rights. So at before this point, Republicans were actually more pro-choice. The Republican leaders at this time, however, were not pro-choice. Richard Nixon and his Supreme Court appointee, Harry Blackman, who authored Roe led the party in a different direction. By the time Reagan was elected in 1980 as a pro-life candidate (despite having a pro-choice VP) the parties had already aligned themselves behind the leaders of the time, and Republicans became pro-life and Democrats pro-choice.

These are just two examples of a myriad of issues dating back to slavery. The point I'm trying to make is that party stances on new issues aren't alwasy immediately clear, and where each party falls is often quite random. A more contemporary example is the rise of Neo-Conservatism. The Republican party is beginning to abandon the traditional conservative ideology by upping government spending on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while cutting taxes. No balanced budget at all.

Considering party stances on issues that frame the course of politics today are chosen at random, I find it impossible for someone to say that their party is right about everything, don't you? Things could have easily gone the other way with abortion or civil rights or gay rights, and would have that been wrong? I don't think so, it would just be different.

So when debating on this forum, try to remember that ideology is made up of hundreds of separate issues, many of which are independent of one another. To make such accusations such as 'liberals are mentally challenged' or 'conservatives are evil' is a gross misunderstanding of our political history and culture. Yet I see such threads every day and am baffled at the arrogance and thick headedness that it represents. Why debate if you aren't open to new ideas? If we're ever going to grow as a society we need to remain pragmatic, and open to new and different ideas.

Please let me know what all of you think. After all, why else post this, right?

Source:
Stimson, James A. Tides of Consent. Cambridge Books: 2004

IF you reallyw ant to know where the core of modern Liberalism gets its philosophical basis, look into Utilitarianism and John Rawls' Theory of Justice as Fairness.
 

Simon W. Moon

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Mikkel said:
Now we all know the basic principles of each political party. Liberals are for big government with lots of spending, but want no governmental intervention when it comes to social issues in the name of preserving freedom. Conservatives are for small government and less spending, but generally try to restrict social liberties in the name of preserving values.
And the Bush Admin are for big government with lots of spending and generally try to restrict social liberties in the name of preserving values (as well as Trotskyite inspired foreign policy).


And take note of my current sig:

Beliefs about politics and religion often have systematic bias, high certainty, and little informational basis. Irrationality is a good like any other; the lower the private cost, the more agents buy. For most political and religious beliefs, the private cost of irrationality is zero.
 

Mikkel

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Simon W. Moon said:
And the Bush Admin are for big government with lots of spending and generally try to restrict social liberties in the name of preserving values (as well as Trotskyite inspired foreign policy).


And take note of my current sig:

Beliefs about politics and religion often have systematic bias, high certainty, and little informational basis. Irrationality is a good like any other; the lower the private cost, the more agents buy. For most political and religious beliefs, the private cost of irrationality is zero.
That's a great signature!
 
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