Quick question, and answer with your gut, which political party in this country is the party of liberty? The Republicans, or the Democrats? Which is the party of freedom? The party of equality? Which is the party of compassion, or common sense?
Now hold those answers in head, and let me ask a few more and see if by the time you read all of this, you still feel the same: What have been the main political talking points in this country over the last few years? What polarizes the mass electorate? What issues cause severe bi-partisan feud and disunity? In short, what divides are country in half? I'm curious what you're list looks like. I took a minute to really think about this one, and here's what I came up with: Same sex marriage, immigration, abortion rights, climate change, marijuana legalization, gun control, minimum wage, women's rights, voter's rights, teacher's unions, and last but no where near least - war.
To backtrack, here's a quick back story on myself. I was a libertarian a few years ago, and pretty loud and proud about it. I believed in personal sovereignty and the inherent right to as much freedom and liberty as humanly possible for each and every one of us, without exception. I thought that a larger government was the exact wrong answer as well. Just 'get out of the way' and let the people of the free market run the show. That was more or less my ideology. And then I started to pay attention to both sides of our current political landscape, and I started to slowly, but surely, change my opinion. I am now of no ideology, but lean toward the Democratic Party on a majority of issues. Here's why.
For starters, take the word liberty. One definition of the word reads as follows: 'the power to do as one likes'. While I believe that in a perfect society, were money no longer corrupts, and food falls from the sky, liberty is an amazing #1 priority, and you should be loud and proud to defend it at every turn. The problem with running a society though with 300+ million people, with 300+ million varying opinions, feelings and personal agendas, is that liberty in this light means that there will always be those that will take advantage, act in self interest over all else, and leave a large majority on the outside looking in.
Take same sex marriage. The current party that 'gets the religion vote' (or at least gets almost 100% of the evangelical vote and a healthy majority of the Christian vote, especially in the Southern states) is the Republican Party. And yet they do not believe in liberty or personal freedom on this issue. Not really. They do not believe in equality and personal choice, only their version. They are acting as bullies; they are acting 'as they like'. They are the party of the bible, and therefore have beholden themselves to an ideology that restricts their openmindedness on this basic human and civil rights issue. At best, some GOPers are just now starting to placate the issue, or throw their hands up and say 'Well, I don't agree with it myself, but if the people vote for it, I guess I have to at least respect that'.
So there's a division and this weird double speak that you get from the Republicans. While they claim to be the party of freedom and small government, when it comes to gay marriage, they want to impose their religious ideology, which is the exact opposite of personal freedom. That's the way I see it. Same goes for abortion rights, and to a lesser but still very real extent women's rights and the aversion to making marijuana legal. Not to mention war with opposing religious ideologies, they are for that as well, much more fervently than the Democratic Party.
It becomes even stranger with issues like immigration, minimum wage, voter rights and unions. Historically, societies, once formed, always create a caste system, of one kind or another. There are always, always, always those that are rich, middle class and poor. Or at least there are always those that are better off than others. True equality across the board has never existed. This is one of the reasons why a government with an effective law and ethics system is so important, to safe guard against criminal activity and grave injustice. Which makes me wonder, why be for a party that by in large doesn't support those less fortunate? Liberty shouldn't mean drastic economic inequality. And yet, thanks to many on the right, that's exactly the world that's been created, and it's only getting worse.
Leaves two talking points: gun control and climate change. Perhaps the two that are most obviously attached to being a Republican, in today's United States of America. For if you are Republican, you are for guns and against the claim that climate change or global warming even exists. And while that's not 100% true across the board about climate change, sadly a great majority of Republican elected officials deny what's been exhaustively scientifically confirmed as reality.
I will say that I realize I am speaking in generalities here. And sometimes that can be dangerous, and unhelpful. For its true that many of these talking points find Republicans and Democrats on sides of the fence that you normally wouldn't expect, and nothing is ever truly black and white. That's important to remember. However, on the whole, this is the reality of the Republican Party. And the reality of the Democratic Party is that while they are equally imperfect on a great number of key issues, when it comes to the social issues that so severely divide our country in half, they always seem to fall on the side of the argument that appeals to common sense and errs on the side of being compassionate to humanity.
So when it comes to asking the question of which party is the party of liberty, freedom, common sense and compassion, if I have to chose between the Dems and the GOP, its the Democratic Party for me. For liberty really doesn't just mean 'do whatever you want, whenever you want'. It also means 'the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely', or more simply 'the power of choice'.
I want women to have the choice to do with their bodies as they see fit. I want men and women to be able to marry any other person, as they see fit. I want science and common sense to trump superstition and greed. I want marijuana legalized. I want people to have the ability to make enough in this country on a full-time minimum wage job so that they don't have to rely on social safety nets. And I ultimately want the most destitute in this country to be risen up to a level of self-reliance, or at least I want us as a country to collectively aspire to such a goal. The moment that Republicans start edging towards this way of thinking, I will rethink my stance. For now though, they are the party of exclusion, big business, religious dogma, and non-progressive ways of looking at an ever-evolving and growing culture.