Friday, January 09, 2009

Why a Non-Liberal Votes Democrat

It's funny that I almost always end up voting a liberal ticket, because I don't have a liberal bone in my body. I'm neither secular nor humanist. I want a small government. I don't want to improve people. I don't want to educate them so they're more like me: I don't even like government-run schools. I don't want government health-care (although I'd prefer a single-payer system to what we have now.) All this ought to put me in with the loony far right. So why did I again vote for a bunch of Democrats?

Well, because there's four non-negotiable issues, for me, and the Democrats fairly consistently take my side on all four.

One is a foreign policy that recognizes that as a general rule war is a spectacular waste of money, a crude and clumsy instrument of diplomacy, environmentally disastrous even on a small scale, and likely, on a large scale, to end humankind.

Two is an understanding of the gravity of the environmental crises (plural intended). The market is not going to solve this: it requires massive regulation and intervention. This is one of my few big-government positions.

Three is a commitment to civil rights. I take my first amendment seriously.

Four is a commitment to helping the poor. Your run of the mill Americans give maybe one percent of their income to any sort of charity. That's not enough to make even a dent. So, willy nilly, even though I find the Democrats' approach distasteful, paternalistic, expensive, and overbearing -- I vote for them. Because they propose to make sure everyone gets housed and fed.

Now, there are a couple of alternatives open to me, that still take in my four non-negotiables. One is the Green Party, and the other is the various incarnations of American socialist parties. (Nader wanders somewhere in these fields, angry and impotent.) I would vote for them before I voted for any party that stood against any of my four issues, let alone, as the Republican Party ordinarily does, against all of them. But -- leaving aside the realities of who has a shot at winning elections -- in both of them I find everything I dislike about the Democrats, only more so. Distasteful, paternalistic, expensive, and overbearing applies to them in spades. Their conviction of moral superiority reeks to heaven. You can't picture them deciding that something is too expensive to burden taxpayers with, or considering that opposition to them could proceed from anything but greed and malice. They do have a keen understanding of how deeply the Republicans and Democrats are beholden to big money, but I somehow think that if they gained a foothold and actually got some of that big money themselves, their scruples would mysteriously vanish. I don't know how to reduce big money's lamentable influence on our politics, but I don't think voting Green or Socialist will do it.

The libertarians are sometimes (though not always) with me on civil rights: I like Ron Paul, but -- they're an environmental disaster. They really just don't get it.

So that's why, although I'm not a liberal, I vote liberal, election after election. Notice to competing parties: I'm ripe for the picking. Give me something else to vote for, and I'm your man. Until then, I'm going to grimace, and sigh, and color in the little (Dem) ovals on the ballot.

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