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Who the hell is this guy and why does he want to talk Politics?


In the age of identity politics, I guess I should start out by saying I am a 60 year old cis gendered, politically conservative white male. With those 12 words, most of the people on the left will presume to tell you all about my beliefs and for good measure throw every "ism”, “ist" or "phobe" they can think of my way. What a world we all must navigate these days.

...and I thought 2016 was bad.

As I write this, there are 388 days and 10 hours to go until the US Presidential Election. It's going to be a long campaign season. I have been a political junkie for the last 45 years. Winston S. Churchill supposedly once observed that anyone who was not a liberal at 20 years of age had no heart, while anyone who was still a liberal at 40 had no head.
I guess my own political journey follows that statement well. Before I get to my commentary on the current state of politics & culture, I think it relevant that the reader knows what my biases might be and a bit about where I am coming from. When I first started to follow politics, I was liberal. You know when you had a Jimmy Carter poster as a kid, something must be wrong. In college I was President of the Young Democrats and I even volunteered on the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign in 1987-1988.

My Main Positions in my 20's:

  • Pro-choice – Not that I thought about it that deeply as a kid, but I just felt it was a woman’s body and not my business
  • Equality for all – To paraphrase Dr. King, I believed in a nation where people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
  • I believed that the power of the state could be used to end homelessness, hunger and poverty.

About the time I was turning 30 - I started to see things a bit differently. I had waited until I was 25 to start college and I had just graduated. It was 1990 and right in the middle of George H. W. Bush's Presidency. As a computer science major and then a working software engineer, I had spent years learning how to break down problems logically. I think this started to have an impact on my political thought.

I started to see that good intentions and policies that make us feel good about ourselves does not always equal effective government policy. Politics was becoming more personal. It was not just the party's and the people had different paths to reach a set of similar goals, but different goals. If you read any history US politics has always been a mudslinging affair, but something seems to be changing. I started to appreciate more the idea that the larger the government, the smaller the individual liberty of the people. It really started to sink in that a sizable group of my fellow Americans really believed that there was such a thing as a free lunch.
The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
― Adrian Rogers​

Somewhere along the way, it seems that we have lost the ability to see ourselves and our neighbors as fellow Americans. We lost the ability to laugh at ourselves, to have a bit of humility and to have a little grace for one another. We were well down the road to the politics of the personal. Arthur Brooks give a great TED talk on this subject. In it he discusses political motive asymmetry. It had got to the point that our political adversaries were not just wrong, but they were evil. Boy, intersectionality and identity politics have turned that up to 11. (If you don't get the Spinal Tap reference - get thee to a streaming service asap!) Long gone it seems are the days when we can share a common laugh at our prejudices, biases and differences. I can't imagine something like this 2004 JibJab being made today. Just google what happened to Ellen for having the audacity to even sit next to George W. Bush at a football game.

America has always been an idea. Not always perfect and we have, many times in our past, failed to live up to the ideals in our founding documents. However, they are great ideals and principals. Our founding Fathers knew it was folly to have faith in perfect human beings. They knew that we all were flawed. That is why they designed a government, limited in scope and designed to work very inefficiently. Checks and balances put in place to allow the hot passions of the day cool for more rational reflection.

So why do I want to talk politics? To be honest, I am afraid. Not for myself or even other members of the baby boom generation. I am afraid for all our children and grandchildren. Those young people with their lives ahead of them and the generations yet unborn.

It seems like (and not just in America, but the west in general) we take health, prosperity, opportunity and the incredible blessing it is to be alive at this moment in time. Life has not always been so easy. Never have so many been blessed to not have to live in starvation, fear, oppression and lawlessness. Yes, there are still areas of the world that face those challenges today - but thank God that number is getting smaller by the day. The number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide declined by 80 percent from 1970 to 2006. Yes, more work is to be done, but we would be remiss not to reflect on the miracle that one statistic represents.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
― Ronald Reagan​

We cannot sit on the sidelines and not engage in the arena of ideas. It is incumbent upon all of us to do our civic duty. President Lincoln said it best in his Gettysburg Address:
“...that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

My Main Positions in my 60's:

  • Very reluctantly pro-choice – after raising a child and having a grandchild - I just think that we should do all we can to stop killing so many babies. I admit it is a moral cop out, but it is such a complex and emotional issue - I just think a better approach is to work make abortion as out of fashion as smoking is today.
  • Equality for all – To paraphrase Dr. King, I believed in a nation where people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I believe this even more today. I think intersectionality and identity politics has the potential to set us back 50 years in this area. It seems to me to be a toxic divisive brew that pits us one against another.
  • I am more than ever a free speech absolutist. "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." - Andrew Shepard The American President. (movie)
  • Pro Legal Immigration. We need immigration reform in the worst way. We need to get a system in place that is merit based and based around the idea of cultural assimilation. America was the "melting pot" of the world. People from all over the world came here to find the American Dream. Being American is not about blood and soil - it is about loving the idea of the American dream. Believing in the idea of individual freedom, live and let live. If we continue down this horrific path to tribalism, it is not going to end well.
  • Promote civics and citizenship - if our Country is to survive, we have got to find a way to get to some shared values. Love of country, respect for the Constitution and individual rights must be the cornerstone of education of our young folks. Not a blind love of country, but a recognition of the inherent goodness of the American experiment.
  • Shrink the size and scope of the Federal Government. A government big enough to give you everything you want by definition has to be big enough to take away everything from you.

If you stayed with me all the way to the end, thank you so much for reading. I look forward to your feedback and much discussion.
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