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Friday, April 15, 2011

So what then is a Republican?

So what then is a Republican?

This question has come up since I have been weeded out by the core, extreme Republicans, as they have found my ideology wanting. I expressed the need for this country to finally solve the problem of caring for its sick, and doing away with the ugly for-profit health care "system" that exists currently, replacing it with a single-payer system and thus saving our country billions of dollars, and millions of lives.

How do we define Republicanism? By the core? Should we allow it to be encircled by the focused interiority of those most fervent--and most fanatical? Should those who do not adhere to every single jot and tittle of the party platform hang our heads and retreat to the desert region of our foes? (And would they admit us, or also vanquish us as not being suitable for their use either?)

Does fanaticism define the party unit, or something more reasonable, something more rationally defined?

Let me consider for a bit the following position: Republicanism--nor any political system, including the religious sphere--can be defined by a fanatical adherence to a set of core principles. Why? Because a political system by its very nature must be a repository of ideas, a vessel, if you will, which holds a collection of values. A vessel holds, it does not mainly restrain. A vessel brings in, it does not mainly withhold. Yet, it must be argued, a vessel containing a multitude of cracks cannot hold much. Another way of stating this, is to say that you might throw any such stuff within and call it whatever you will. Too little, too small a set of ideas, and you would not even need a bowl to hold them. Too many ideas and they spill over the side or through the many cracks. You may call whatever remains what you want but someone else will gladly call them something else: a would-be mess.

So it is clear that a party of ideas is a vessel, a bowl, that contains more than a small set of core values, but not so many that it becomes too-much-to-name. There is then an essence, a set of ingredients that most (but NOT all, for that again would distill to too small a number) might then agree to.

Another way of stating this is by using an alternate metaphor: A political party is like water. Too contained it becomes fetid; too unleashed and wild it becomes a muddied, raging river. Just right would be a very clear mountain stream, clean and clear enough to drink safely, but moving fast enough to change in time and carry away the dross.

By stating that I am not a Republican because I have one idea wrong, those fanatics have revealed themselves as being bathed in fetid waters. The ideas do not get exposed to the air of conversation and dialogue. They sink, and inevitably they stink of rottenness.

Ideas must be alive, they must be tossed about from mind to mind otherwise they rot like corpses. We keep them alive through dialogue, especially dialogue with others who do not share the ideas within our own vessel. This sharing is important, vital to not only our nation but ourselves. Sharing is part of being human, but sharing only within our own set vessel of opinions is not truly sharing, but an inbreeding resulting in defective ideas and defective selves.

In a post on The Dish (Sept. 12, 2011), Andrew Sullivan writes:
If your view of conservatism is one rooted in an instinctual, but agile, defense of tradition, in a belief in practical wisdom that alters constantly with circumstance, in moderation and the defense of the middle class as the stabilizing ballast of democracy, in limited but strong government ... then the GOP is no longer your party or mine).

Religion has replaced all of this, reordered it, and imbued the entire political-economic-religious package with zeal. And the zealous never compromise. They don't even listen.

So thinking through this problem I am a bit heartened at feeling that it is I that am the true Republican, and they that would weed me out are the truly--what to call them? The defectives. They grow rank and fetid in their little bowls, mildewy and corrosive.

You will know them by their smell. They reek of all that is ugly and extreme and fanatical. By their fruits you will know them: their branches are bare.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The preening exaltedness of the Right

If there is one thing that the liberal left despises most about the conservative right, it is the attitude of preening exaltedness. Now, as a conservative myself, I usually find myself in the company of many on the right. However, I usually am quickly discovered as a closet liberal--judged so by my adherence to a single-payer system. Recently I have been captured, and interrogated by those on the extreme right on a very popular social site. (Why do I characterize them so, as extreme? Because those are there own words, how they describe themselves: extremism in the defense of liberty, yaddayadda.) Finding that I am not a Republican (though I am one), that my conservative credentials are expired--though they are not, they have tried and sentenced me. I, it seems, am really a liberal Democrat, much like Obama. Though I happen to disagree with him on many topics. Still, they say I am liberal.

Now I also believe, quite forcefully at times, I admit, to being pro-life. I believe in conservative environmental principles. I also think we need to be fiscally conservative (though apparently not conservative enough).

But tried and sentenced by the extremists, what am I to do but turn in my Republican badge?

Well that I'm not going to do. Goldwater lost in '64, but the real loser then were the Rockerfeller Republicans, their heads being held underwater until only the extremists were left.

Does that mean there is no remnant left? No progressive Republicans? (By progressive, I guess I mean those of us willing to listen to others--even Democrats.) There is a small remnant left, but big enough to form a core that one day may be able to rise up in defense of liberty, a liberty that the founding fathers saw as less a preening exaltedness of those self-proclaiming extremists, but a willingness to enter into dialogue, as Obama said in his inaugural speech.

America was not founded as a theocracy. It was not founded as a dictatorship of preening prigs either. It was founded as a melting pot, not only of people, but of ideas.

There are people out there unwilling to listen to ideas outside their own. Beware of such people. They will judge you, many calling themselves Christians. Step out of their way, be kind, be civil, but be ready to rise up and call them by their true name: Extremists.