My Political Journey – So Far
A Facebook friend of mine posted this meme recently:
This led to a “discussion” (and I use the term loosely) among my friend (“R”), another gentleman (“A”), and me, about the Second Amendment. After two or three exchanges between A and R, A made this statement: “So far I have heard no facts to prove that ANY liberal understands the purpose of the 2nd Amendment.”
To which R replied, “So far, you’ve only expressed disdain for about half of the population of the United States, including constitutional scholars, several presidents, and members of the Supreme Court, among others of a wide spectrum of brilliant scholars. Thus does not bode well for any arguments that follow.”
A’s retort: “OK! I get it. Liberals DON’T know as I suspected.”
At this point, I entered the fray with, “A, what kinds of facts would you be looking for, if you were looking for facts?”
To which he replied, “Do I have to repeat myself?”
I answered, “I haven’t been following you, so… yes. Here’s what you have said on this thread so far:
“1. Obviously, you don’t understand why the 2nd Amendment was created.
“2. Just to clarify, what do you say the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is and why registration would not endanger it? Or can you?
“3. So far I have heard no facts to prove that ANY liberal understands the purpose of the 2nd Amendment.
“4. OK! I get it. Liberals DON’T know as I suspected.
“None of these gives me any indication of what you’re looking for.”
His answer: “But you seem pretty intelligent, and you stated my question very well, but apparently all you can do is prove my point. How sad. Must be more of a mental block than a lack of intelligence. I give up.”
There were a couple of intervening comments, after which I added, “A, I ‘stated your question’ by repeating what you said. So far, you haven’t given me any examples of what you’re looking for in the way of facts. Instead, you’ve resorted to an ad hominem attack, apparently trying to sidetrack the discussion. I have neither proven nor disproven your ‘point’, because I’ve not presented any evidence. I’m merely asking for clarification. I would honestly and truly like an example from you so that I might know where to begin. I have no agenda; if all I come up with is evidence in your favor I’ll certainly tell you that. I want to broaden my knowledge, but I need a starting point.”
His response: “I win and you don’t even know why. (2 wins!) I guess there arn’t [sic] as many liberal English majors as I assumed. OK, i GIVE UP.”
I kept asking for what he was looking for because, unlike so many on the Right (and Left, to be honest), I truly want to hear differing viewpoints and the reasoning behind them. When I can’t get a straight answer (as I didn’t from A), I get frustrated. A touched a nerve when he started attacking / dismissing me personally.
All of which is a long-winded introduction to the following (abbreviated and somewhat simplified) explanation of my current political views and how I got there. [And the reason I’m posting it near midnight is because I couldn’t sleep. I really wish I could talk with some conservative types who would have an honest discussion with me.]
I grew up during the Vietnam War. I remember the inflated body counts and the governmental lies and the demonstrations here at home. I graduated from high school in 1969 and went through AFROTC in college, after which I served 4 years in the Air Force. I voted for Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush 41 (both times). I voted for Bob Dole in ’96 against Clinton. I voted for Bush 43 in ’00 and ’04. I voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12. Here’s why.
I became a Republican because my parents were Republicans. That attitude was furthered by the disaster that was Vietnam, and by the fact that it was paid for by borrowed money. The country wasn’t asked to put any skin in the game through increased taxes. I remember LBJ used the slogan “guns and butter” (or something similar) to indicate that we could wage a war and and still have a peacetime economy. I think that was a major factor that led to the stagflation of the ’70s. It was no surprise when he declined to run in ’68. Nixon came in and had his own debacles (invading Cambodia, Watergate) and left Ford to clean up the mess. I don’t remember much about the Ford or Carter years, except for the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the failed rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages.
I supported Reagan, although I wondered how he thought lower taxes, coupled with more spending, was going to reduce the deficit. Well, it didn’t.
I remember being impressed by the fact that Bush 41 declined to go into Iraq in the Gulf War, but was satisfied with getting Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Bush could have chased Hussein all the way back to Baghdad, and probably could have ousted him, but chose not to. I don’t remember his reasoning at the time, but looking back at it, I think it was because he felt that being an aggressor (i.e., striking first) isn’t what the US is about. Defend Kuwait, sure – Saddam invaded them and we pushed him out. But invade Iraq? No.
When Clinton was President, I thought he was a sleazeball (and to some extent I still do – and I don’t really want Hillary as the Democratic nominee next year, either), for lots of reasons. But he impressed me, and began changing my opinion about the Democratic Party, by creating a budget surplus for the first time in who-knows-how-many years.
Bush 43 didn’t get the chance to have a “normal” Presidency. I fully supported (and still do support) his decision to go into Afghanistan after 9/11. We were attacked, and IMO we had every right to retaliate however we wanted to. But like Vietnam, the war was never paid for by increased taxes – only this time it was the Republicans who put the bill on the credit card. It meant we Americans didn’t have to make *any* sacrifices to support the war effort.
Where we began to part ways was Bush’s decision to go into Iraq. Regardless of whether the justifications were true or not, I felt uneasy about the US initiating a war. To me, that set a very dangerous and depressing modern precedent, basically saying, “Hey, world, you better do what we say or else we might just come in and beat you up.” IMO we became a bully. [I have since found out that “wars of aggression” – starting a war – are against accepted international law.] And again, the war was paid for by borrowing – meaning that the general population didn’t have to sacrifice anything (at least, not right away).
The next thing to push me away from the Republican fold was the financial crisis of 2007 – 2008, which led to the Great Recession. The lax oversight of the financial industry during the Bush years was a major contributing factor.
[You’ll no doubt notice that the budget deficit graphic I chose goes out to 2022 and doesn’t look very pretty. This is one of the issues I have with the current Administration, but I believe that the roots of much, if not most, of that red ink still trace back to the financial crisis and Great Recession, among other actions and policies begun under Bush 43. The graphic comes from here.]
There were other influences, too, including my family, but these were the major points that changed my direction. As I said, I voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12.
Oh, by the way – I’m not a “liberal English major” as A assumed. I have a BS in Industrial Engineering and an MS in Computer Science, so you can see that I prefer logic and facts over fuzzy-headed feel-good platitudes. And I *really* don’t like empty hate.
I recognize that there are many legitimate reasons to disagree with President Obama’s policies and initiatives. He’s not perfect; nobody is. But I am appalled at the level of vitriol that has been heaped on him (as a person, no less!) during his Presidency. [It seems that people aren’t so much against his policies as they are against him personally.] I am aghast at the absolute lack of willingness by the Right (political or religious) to even talk, let alone work out manageable compromises in order to get things done. Civil discourse is almost nonexistent (see A’s dismissive remarks, above) these days.
I was angry with the Dixie Chicks when they said they were ashamed of President Bush – IMO they were making a personal attack on the man. In retrospect, their comments were oh-so-tame compared with the invective coming from the Right against Obama. It no longer angers me; now it depresses me. And pushes me farther left.