Sunday, July 17, 2005

# 41 POLITICS 101

I’ve never been a guru when it comes to understanding the politics of government and the thinking behind it. In school I just couldn’t get a grip on it. But as an adult, I thought I finally had a passable understanding that could at least give me the intellect needed to vote.

Now what I thought was the case was that conservatives are anti-abortion, pro-life, non-war-mongering fundamentalist-based persons who prefer to cling to a peaceful means of government. And that liberals were persons ruled more by intellect than ethics, and willing to react with drastic measures whenever new knowledge and new research dictate a need for change.

But in the States, I find that the Republicans (conservatives) are bullying and war-mongering but at the same time pro-life (a brash contradiction, in my opinion). And the Democrats (liberals) have a somewhat conscientious view ruled more, it would often seem, by ethics, rather than intellect. So you see why I’m so confused. And I’m not the only one. At least twice a week, someone asks me the same question about current events in the U.S.

"Is that a Republican ideology? Sounds more like a liberal ideology to me?"

The lines of delineation between conservatism and liberalism are becoming so blurred. We are all so confused. Hub is confused, I am confused, neighbours are confused, even relatives that live in the States are confused. What I think is causing the confusion is the fact that government is getting too involved in religious ethics. Maybe not religion, per se, but religious ethics. Gay marriage, abortion, right to die, war, anything pertaining to God such as prayer in schools, ten commandments display or demolition, etc. All political events and situations that become insidiously entangled in the fringes of religious ideologies until the tangle begins to even encompass other political situations quite removed from these problems.

You see politics and religion are a bad mix. And inviting Gerry Falwell and his contemporaries on political talk shows is not helping the matter. When politics and religion start to intertwine it seems like the result is a disheartening and disappointing political antagonism in the U.S. that is negatively affecting unity and patriotism at its very core.

But, all that aside and going back to the original problem, my confusion only increases with the passage of time. So I decided to scrap all previous thinking about liberals and conservatives and look at the primitive motivations of man (before government ideologies were crafted) in the hope that I could form a new, and better understanding, of what motivates the philosophies of Democrats vs Republicans.

Now in my research, I found that some of the Great Philosophical Thinkers concluded that Man is driven by an unconscious hard-drive rather than intellectual software. And such persons are NOT able to transcend animal nature. Primitive instincts override any intellectual thought. And it is these basic instincts (rather than God as G.B. would have us believe) that position them to concentrate solely on aggressively protecting their territory and enhancing their power. I can’t help but think that this best describes the one staunch Republican that I am most frequently exposed to in the media – G.B.

And other of the Great Thinkers concluded that Man can transcend animal nature, that he is a creature ruled by intellect – albeit a fallible intellect. Intellect that sometimes leads to very foolish attempts to make life more pleasant (the Monica affair), and sometimes leads to very wise attempts to make life more organized (economy and trade). I think that best describes the staunch Democrat that I was most frequently exposed to before G.B. came into power.

So my question to those who have that better understanding of party platforms and politics is this. "Am I making any progress?"

There is room for comments and any help would be appreciated.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is wonderful! You are definitely finding deep and true parallels and I want to hear more....

best, Molly
blogs.law.harvard.edu/arugslife

10:03 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Thank you, Molly, for the comment/incouragement. I tend to build my thinking around really basic stuff whenever possible. It helps me clarify what I'm thinking without to much 'thinking debris'. Something that I suspect others may not understand, but obviously you did.

6:49 PM  
Blogger wanda said...

There was a time when one could easily define the democratic-vs-republican philosophy. Consevatives tended to lean toward doing things the old fashioned way. Liberals were more likely to be willing to accept new ideas and ideologies. Republicans were pro-life, Democrats pro-choice. You could pretty much count on those basics. Right up until this new gang of republicans came to town.
The new repuplicans want the government to be all powerful, civil rights take a back seat to the rights of the government. They want to do away with any kind of 'entitlement' programs (Social Security, welfare, ect). They oppose higher wages, and taxes. They firmly believe war is not necessarily a bad thing. It's that whole 'don't mess with Texas attitude'.
Democrats want the government to help those who need help but to stay our of people's private lives. They don't 'support' abortion, they believe in a womans right to choose (there's that 'civil rights' thing). They too deplore higher taxes but realize if your going to pay off your debts you have to have taxes. They believe in higher wages for employees. And strongly support the idea of a national health insurance. Democrats are strong believers in equal and civil rights. For all.
Over all (at least in my opinion) democrats have stayed pretty much true to form. Whereas republicans have made a strong shift to the far right.
This of course is my opinion, but I think if you look at the current politica atmosphere in the US you'll agree with me.

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Aurora said...

In my opinion, the easiest line to draw between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats tend to think of others whereas Republicans tend to only think of themselves or those in their circle. Democrats are more, "What's the greater good?" whereas Republicans are more, "What's in it for me?"

1:46 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...

You have some very interesting ideas. I'm trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of ideology and why people are conservative or liberal on my blog, too - if you have a minute, stop by and see if there are any parallels. I think we may be somewhere on the same path.

Thanks for putting this out there!

8:06 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

wanda, thanks for that bit of edification. Your discussion does clear up quite a bit of my confusion.

and aurora, guess what? In Canada it's the Liberals who worry most about personal all-about-me benefits -- not the conservatives.

and alicia, I'm so glad you stopped by. I have responded to your comment on your own blog.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Bravo! Judging politicians (and people in general) by their deeds and not their words is the best way to go. Too bad more people don't have the courage you have to re-examine their beliefs and opinions in the light of the real world.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Aurora said...

Roberta,

Wow, that's scary. No wonder it's a bit confusing! You know, as I understand it (I haven't done the research yet, too busy with some classes), the way American Democrats are today is the way American Republicans used to be in bygone days. I am good friends with someone who claims to be Republican (or conservative) and she rips on the Dems all the time, given the chance. She thinks Bill O'Reilly actually has his head on straight, too. *eyeroll* Anyway, during a certain conversation with someone, she was asked what her stance on a number of issues was. The answers she gave were right in line with "Liberal" or "Democrat" views... yet she clamied she was a Republican.

All this labelling, though, makes me nuts.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi mike. It's been a while. Guess I haven't written much lately to turn your crank but thanks for stopping by and giving me a handshake on this one. Like you so aptly said, even with all this thinking "outside the box" that society is claiming they are doing, there are still far too many that don't take their opinions out into the light and turn them over and have a good look at them.

And obviously aurora, you have witnessed the very same political confusion of which I speak. It is, I agree, truly mind-boggling.

12:04 AM  

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