My Political Ideology
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the evolution of my political philosophy, although I hesitate to call it a philosophy; perhaps political beliefs or leanings might be more accurate.
Some, particularly progressives think I’m so conservative I must be a fascist. Others, on the extreme conservative side of the political spectrum think I’m dangerously libertarian at best or Liberal at worst – perhaps even a confused, closet socialist.
The fact is that I am neither although I am just contrary enough to take some pleasure in the discomfort the confusion about my politics causes to some.
I don’t particularly like labels because I think they tend to stereotype individuals by assigning them to groups as if that is the only way a person can be defined. Inevitably, the stereotype that gets attached to the group, whether it is accurate or not (and usually it isn’t accurate) becomes attached to the individual regardless of whether or not the profile of the group accurately fits the individual.
That’s how we end up with ridiculous assertions like blacks have more rhythm than whites, Asians are better at math and only whites are racist (although this is currently being refined by some of my less tolerant friends to mean only white conservatives are racist.)
It’s also how we end up with contradictory political ideologies and I do mean contradictory. I don’t simply mean one ideology disagreeing with another, I mean the contradictions found within most contemporary ideologies. Typically, we often find people defending or ignoring the sins of those within their own ideology that they vociferously condemn in others. It’s getting so difficult to know who is progressive and who is conservative lately that we may have to start tattooing each other.
When I compare the Chretien Liberal era with the current Harper Conservative era, I find it odd that progressives who supported the Liberals condemn the current Conservative government for actually doing what they expected the Liberal government was going to do. By the same token, I find it just as odd that my conservative friends vilify the former Liberal government for doing what it expected from this current one.
It was the Liberal government that slashed health care spending to balance the books, an action one normally associates with conservative ideology. It was the current Conservative government that restored that spending and which guaranteed annual funding increases which one would think was pretty progressive. The really stupid thing for me was how quickly the provincial premiers praised the Liberals of the past while condemning the conservatives for restoring their funding increases which only goes to prove that common sense and politics aren’t very compatible.
It was the Liberal government that signed the Kyoto Accord but which never implemented it. The Conservative government did scrap the Accord but it also implemented a tough new Environmental Protection Act in 2007. Which is more progressive — which is more conservative?
Both parties have had members who engaged in dishonest and unethical behaviour. Both parties intervened in the economy with incentives to stimulate growth and both screwed up military procurement which may indicate that inefficient military procurement is something we should all be blaming on the bureaucracy.
It all gets quite confusing and all the more so because everybody is so busy yelling at each other, nobody is taking the time to do any real research or engaging in reasoned discussion. I don’t believe that simply raising the volume makes something true when it isn’t. I also believe that listening to each other has become a dying art.
My own particular political ideology is quite simple. I believe in the right of individuals to pursue their lives with a minimum of interference from government or others who would try to dictate how we should live. In other words, I believe that most people, regardless of race, religion, gender, gender orientation (or any of the other things we used to divide ourselves) are quite capable of living our lives without guidance from government, the politically correct or any other group suffering from Righteous Mind.
I am conservative by nature which means I won’t be tying a rubber band to my ankles and taking a dive off a bridge any time soon. Life experience has a way of toning down that uninhibited sense of adventure. It also has a way of educating most of us about what does or doesn’t work in society.
It isn’t that age is a guarantee of intelligence but by a certain age most of us have made so many mistakes in our lives that we have started to learn a few things.
But, if I am conservative by nature, I am not necessarily conservative by political ideology. In fact, I think political ideologies are outdated and that blind adherence to one or another has become one of the most destructive forces in our societies today. There is a built-in assumption that “if we are right, you must be wrong”.
People self-identify with ideological labels these days. They are progressive, liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, monarchist, republican and the list drags on. Typically, most people haven’t really got a clue beyond the most superficial understanding of what these ideologies really mean – primarily because most people can’t be bothered to take the time it requires to learn about and to really understand them.
People jump on bandwagons with little thought. They pontificate, rail and rant about something with little real knowledge of it. The current aboriginal issues in Canada are a great example. Almost all of those who criticize the Indian Act have never read it and most who agree with Idle No More’s contention that treaty rights have been violated have never read the treaties.
The truth is that most of us are little bits and pieces of most of those ideologies regardless of how we might self-identify or which political party we might support.
I have voted for both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party and never saw a contradiction in my choice. Typically, I was voting for the election platform that I saw as being the closest to a continuation of what I believe in. Sometimes that was some iteration of the Tories, sometimes the Liberals. It changes and therein lies one of the great dichotomies of modern politics. Nothing is consistent; nothing remains the same.
For all of their differences, former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien had a great deal in common with the Canada’s current Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
Both used omnibus bills to pass legislation, both prorogued Parliament, both exerted a very strong control over their caucus and both were extremely pragmatic when it came to governing. They may not have agreed on every issue but they both chose the practical solution over the ideological one virtually every time.
It has been suggested recently that Stephen Harper campaigns like a Conservative but governs like a Liberal. The same could be said of Jean Chretien who campaigned as a Liberal but governed like a Conservative.
There is no real contradiction, however, because the traditional labels simply fail for both leaders; both simply governed from a pragmatic centre of the political spectrum and that is probably where I am most comfortable. I have, in fact, voted for both men.
Former Prime Minister Joe Clark had more in common with former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin than he did with former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney despite having been a member of Mr. Mulroney’s cabinet.
It all gets quite confusing at times if you’re not paying attention and many aren’t these days. The amount of misinformation being circulated across social media is staggering. Some of it is just plain stupidity.
Recently, for example, Ellen Gabriel of the Indigenous Women of Turtle Island has stated that there is a significant amount of racism directed towards aboriginal people and she blames it on the government for not agreeing to meet with Chief Theresa Spence. She has decided that the anger caused by blockades and illegal protests is racist rather than justifiable frustration at having our laws violated once again.
I have no doubt that Ms Gabriel has some knowledge of what constitutes racism. She is a member of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation which, in 2010, evicted the non-aboriginal partners and spouses of band members from the reserve. Their only crime was that they were not aboriginal and that, apparently, was enough to warrant breaking up families. One can only imagine the outcry if local Canadian municipalities enacted the same legislation and evicted aboriginal Canadians from their towns and cities.
I am opposed to hypocrisy and it seldom gets more hypocritical than racists accusing others of being racist. In fact, I have found that the old adage, “the thing we fear in others is the thing we most fear in ourselves” is usually pretty accurate these days; especially with those who accuse the loudest. In the end, I believe that when you refuse to criticize those whose ideologies you support when they break faith with what you believe, you lose the moral authority to criticize those whom you do not support.
I believe in human rights but not the selective and self-serving application and definitions used by activists and the political correct these days. Either everyone has exactly the same rights or none of us do. Anything less is institutionalized discrimination.
I don’t believe in affirmative action for minorities. That is merely reverse racism. It is predicated on the idea that minorities are incapable of competing as equals and so, therefore, must be given special priviledge. I accept that some minorities start from a disadvantaged position but I would prefer to dedicate resources to helping them rise up to meet a standard than to lower standards to accommodate them.
I believe that less government is better government. There is very little that government does well and even when it does accomplish something, it is usually at the expense of something else. It may stimulate job creation or job growth in one sector but usually undermines it simultaneously in another.
I acknowledge the need for a criminal code to protect us from those who would do us harm and for some regulation to try and balance one set of rights with another. I do not believe we require government to protect us from ourselves. If someone is too stupid to wear a helmet when they ride a motorcycle, that isn’t my concern nor should it be the concern of government.
Currently, in Canada, there are regulations governing everything from skateboarding to where you can or cannot tie your horse when you ride into town. I believe we are over-regulated and to the point where enforcing those regulations and even the law is becoming increasingly discretionary. When that happens, as we are seeing with the current Idle No More protests, the law breaks down and eventually there is no law.
I don’t believe that advances a society.
I believe in the right of protest not the right to break laws or vandalize in order to make a point. I believe in civil disagreement and that disagreeing on an issue doesn’t automatically mean the other person is an idiot (although some are) or an enemy of the people. I believe most of us want the same basic things for our society but we just haven’t figured out how to agree on achieving them. I believe too many self-serving, misinformed and outright stupid people have control of too many agendas.
I believe in democracy and reject outright the tyranny of the minority.
I believe that everyone is responsible for their own lives and that the state does not owe people a living. I accept and support the need for the state to provide assistance to those most in need within our society but that does not include, in my mind, tax credits for families enrolling their kids in sports, free post-secondary tuition or tax deductions for business people to have lunch with other business people or to buy themselves a cup of coffee.
I believe we are over-taxed and that too much of our tax money is squandered on political pandering to buy votes and carelessly used by a bureaucracy that has little to no respect for our money. In some cases, the careless misspending by government makes that of the band council at Attawapiskat, appear almost frugal.
I do not believe in ‘tax the rich’ schemes primarily because I don’t believe in penalizing success or rewarding mediocrity. I have yet to have one person answer the question, “how much is their fair share?” when discussing forcing the rich to pay their fair share. Instead I get bafflegab and more ideological posturing. What I do believe in is that everyone above the poverty line should pay their fair share which means that everyone should pay the same percentage of their income, without tax credits or deductions, to the state.
The rich will clearly pay far more in real cash than low income earners and we will all pay our fair share accordingly. I find it outrageous that unions in Canada, who demand the rich pay their fair share actually pay no tax whatever on the income they take in from membership dues or the interest they earn from investing those dues. I find it equally as bizarre that 47% of Americans pay no taxes at all while demanding the rich pay their fair share.
The stupidity of progressive taxing is demonstrated once again by what is now happening in the United States. The government, led by President Obama’s simplistic demand that the rich pay their fair share, has resulted in those making more than $200,000/year seeing their taxes increase by 2.3% while those making less are seeing their taxes increased by 2.7%/year.
I believe progressive taxation is an illusion worthy of the Wizard of Oz and that it only works for government, accountants and tax lawyers.
Ultimately, I believe in the right of individuals to live their lives to the best of their ability unimpeded by government, special interest and the politically correct. I believe we all are equal in terms of our value as people and our rights although not necessarily in terms of our individual ability.
I believe in the shared collective responsibility of the community to provide assistance and appropriate support to those who genuinely need its help to help them become productive members of society. I do not believe in supporting people indefinitely, especially those who show no sign of trying to raise themselves up.
I believe in celebrating success and do not believe that any of us have a right to share in the rewards that success has brought others. We benefit from the spin offs that success creates within society.
I don’t suffer fools gladly, have no respect for hypocrites and have little patience for stupidity.
Finally, I believe in civility, good manners and respect. These, for whatever reasons, no longer seem to be a part of any particular ideology these days. Instead, yelling, protesting, disrupting, vandalism, posturing, accusing, defending, demanding, mocking and vilifying seem to be how many think we can resolve the complex issues we are all facing together. I believe they are wrong.
I believe that it will only be when we start remembering that we are all first and foremost, human beings, and start to treat that idea (and each other) with the respect and understanding it deserves, will we have a hope of overcoming things like discrimination, racism, intolerance and – be still my beating heart – individual and collective stupidity.
As political ideologies go, mine doesn’t rank up there with any of the great ideologies of history but it’s mine and it’ll have to do.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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