I'm writing this note for my own reflections sake and to share. Just understand that if it seems long winded and self serving, that's because that's the point.
Lately I've managed to get into a few nitty-gritty conversations about politics with people on facebook, and they often whittle down to a disagreement on a fundamental thought. It takes a whole hell of a lot of back and forth, time, thick skin, and question asking to get there -- but it's been nice to at least find the root disagreements rather than ideology vs ideology.
(A lot of liberal vs. conservative economic talk seems to come down to a disagreement over how responsible individuals are for their place in this world and likewise what to do about it. I know that may sound obvious but when you unpack that and you end up on thoughts about "free will" and "individual freedom being in contrast with world economic competition" it seems to actually be a debate. That's not really what this note will be about - that's just my quick take so I don't just leave that thought open ended)
Since I see a pretty big difference between arguing economic perspectives and social perspectives it seemed only fair for me to delve into why I would never be comfortable aligning myself with conservatives/the republican party (hint: It has to do with the social perspectives).
If everything could be whittled to an arguably debatable root like I recently had with people online I'd be more likely to define myself as a moderate but as I ventured into politics for the first time years ago I found a few stances and perspectives that came from the Republican side of the isle to be reprehensible. Coming to politics through the guise of philosophy (only coming to the topic of philosophy just by asking simple questions about religion and society) it was odd to poke my head in and see what the debate of gay rights was all about.
On one side I saw people fighting for gay rights (i.e. equal treatment in the eyes of the law and a general need for society to change it's prejudice against people of a particular group) and the other was arguing for...well that's what was so concerning. I didn't understand what their argument was (not to mention why it even affects their lives personally). When comparing gay rights to the other rights movements in our country I was simply asking "How is this any different?", "Are these prejudices any more "deserved"?" They were easy enough questions to ask. It was startling to see how the conservative side would answer those questions:
"This nation was built on Christian values", "Marriage is between a man and a women", "it's just not natural", "I don't want my children being around those people", "It's a sin to act on those urges", "If you let them get married then what's next? People getting married to dogs"
These arguments, if they were based on anything at all, can be whittled down to two things: Religion and "gross" factor. Sadly I need to state this now, but I hope it's obvious that any argument based on either of those concepts has no place in a debate over civil rights in a nation based on freedom of religion. Have your religion but keep it to yourself. You can feel that it's "gross" but if you can't see the subjectivity of that argument then you're someone that shouldn't be arguing in a public setting in the first place.
And the even more insulting thing about the religious argument is that it can't simply end at "they shouldn't marry" but that it comes from the religious judgments of "they are living in sin" and "There won't be any gays in my heaven" (NB Quote). So now you're not only holding back their freedoms because of your personal religion but you're labeling them as terrible and damned people in order to argue a point.
It's not controversial for me to say these arguments (being completely subjective, completely bias and many obviously rooted in personal religion) were all coming from the conservative/republican side of the isle.
Nestle these up with Bush's religious based hold on stem cell research and the conservatives basically packaging these biased arguments under the guises "family values"/"patriotism"/"real America" and I don't know how I was suppose to take the party seriously, let alone not be offended.
But apparently it doesn't matter if I don't take them seriously (or if I'm offended), they still have enough populous behind this thought that it's (apparently) not their job to worry about the rights of everyone in the nation. They can get elected by touting those shallow, irresponsible arguments. In many regions, this topic not only does them no harm, but actually garners votes when they package it up nice as "family values".
So great. Now I not only heartily, ferociously disagree with their unreasonable stance on gay rights but now I have to worry that they are only playing off the prejudice of the populous to get elected all while fueling the ignorant reasons people believe those arguments in the first place.
How was I suppose to keep listening to the people that shovel out this rhetoric? Whether they mean it sincerely or not, whether it's based off religion or completely subjective bias, it's all terrible. I will never align myself with anyone who argues from a point of complete ignorance (seemingly pridefully to make it worse). We're talking about peoples lives and their lack of "trying" made me sick. The continued lack of effort continues to make me sick. I'm up for debate on lots of topics but the fact that one of (basically) two parties I have to choose from even stands for this is scary. It's because of this that I am prone to skepticism with everything and everyone that defines themselves as conservative because it proves to me they don't feel they need to argue from a point of objectivity to defend something in a public setting. And without that, we'd all still be burning witches at the stake and drinking from different drinking fountains.
So yeah, that has to be the earliest and strongest reason I felt the Republican Party lacked integrity. And if in 20 years we're lucky enough to have a nation where gay rights is just as much a part of the past as black and women's rights, It's likely the skepticism I have today will still prod at me.
is a thirty-something guy who hasn't been able to look away from politics since 2008. Around the time he got tired of staring at religion.