Friday, August 1, 2008

Ideology

It's kind of getting me down that lately my politics basically involves disagreeing with everyone. Taking this extended break in Oregon has left me with a fair amount of time to read and consider. As per usual, that's had the effect of putting me at even greater distance from any solid moorings of politics or ideology. It's not just in abstract, either. For example, I've been a fairly regular volunteer at the Obama campaign, and attended their big Division Street office potluck a few weeks ago. On the whole it was a fun event. However, one of the speakers, a former Governor, during her (pretty skillful) rallying speech, said something to the effect of (paraphrasing):
"We need to elect Democrats to every office, not just the Presidency. Oregon is going to get another Congressional representative after the next census, and we need to make sure the Secretary of State is a Democrat when they're drawing those Congressional districts."
And it was like, "Whoah!" I'm actually, as a rule, pretty much against gerrymandering, and such an outright appeal to partisan loyalty was a reminder that I'm in with the Obama campaign for my own reasons. Sure, I'm more comfortable with Democrats in charge, but mostly because I think they have less of a track record of outright hostility to science and the objective appraisal of the problems facing our country. Beyond supporting better policymakers, I don't have a hell of a lot of interest in the greater glory of the Democratic Party. I can understand the counterargument, that enabling the Democrats means lessening the death grip the Republicans currently hold on the emergency brake of this country's legislative system. But that's the thing, I actually don't think that conservatism as a governing philosophy is inherently flawed. Or rather, I think all governing philosophies are a mixed bag and conservatism is no exception.

I really think we should be arguing about policy, not about party. I've seen great policy ideas come from Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Libertarians. However, I've also seen all of these groups display ideological blind spots that leave me aghast at the thought of putting them in charge without checks and balances. Fundamentally I consider myself an optimist because I think innovations in science and technology have put us on the cusp of a great future, but only if we get our shit together.

To my horror, I've become the mythical Independent Voter. 

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