I have had an ongoing conversation with a friend who describes himself as a Democrat. After talking about politics with him, we started to wonder exactly where his views and my views diverged regarding public policy and the role of government. Our conversations tend to go all over the place so I decided to type it up and email him the below message.
Although he has not responded to the email yet, our dialogues discussing our differences are helpful to me in my personal growth. If we have the ability and right to argue and debate with civility, we also have a responsibility to do so as so many others throughout history have not had it. Attempted persuasion is always preferable to yelling, intimidation, and name calling.
“Teach a man to fish” OR “We are all a team”?
You said something like that to me the other day and said that republicans tend toward the former and democrats the latter. This is a false dichotomy as you pointed out. We don’t need to choose either ONE or the OTHER. We both believe the same thing to a certain extent but are at different points in the political spectrum. I believe that hand-outs and the welfare/nanny state is detrimental in its long-term effects on the character and success of the country and in that respect it brings down the “team”. You tend to lean more toward the “we win and lose as a team” and focus less on the former. However, the main concerns are not only economic differences.
If men are free to succeed, that implies to a certain extent that they must be allowed to fail. As much as we try and as much as private organizations will always help the destitute, we cannot force success. I believe that all individuals have the ability to succeed and live a life in the pursuit of happiness. However, when they are told that they cannot (by the left) and they are kept in hard situations to get out of (generational welfare- no incentive to get out of it) then they have been less likely to get out of it. The welfare state is a form of slavery. They continue to vote for those who give them more and more and it goes against their inner fiber as a human to want to work hard for what they have earned and take care of their family by the talents that God gave them. This is not to say that a “net” for those in hard times should not exist. This is to say that DEPENDENCY is unhealthy and should not be encouraged at all. The net should be there and on the other end of the spectrum we should not punish those who are successful by taking all of their money. We should not tax someone who is dead and not let him bless his posterity. This is called stealing.
We are all a team but the team needs to FREELY choose to succeed. Not be coerced into social programs and redistribution of wealth. This state-ism and socialism has been tried and does NOT work when it has been carried out to its basic end. Any party system that promotes more state involvement and tampering with individual’s lives, more levels of hierarchy, more stealing and redistribution, less individual expression of beliefs, less focus on objective truth and inalienable rights, and more intrusion, I am in principle going to resist. The policies in place from left wing ideas may not see immediate intrusion of freedom but over time it will lead to less of the individual freedoms we enjoy. To an extent, progressive ideas have been allowed to proliferate in this country and have been implemented at the expense of freedom. As a rule, centralized and powerful government should be resisted. The founders wanted a limited, constitutional republic with the rule of law over individuals. Inalienable rights were accepted as coming from a creator that could not be usurped by men.
If people want to be ruled over, that is fine. I do not. More and more the comforts and safety of an over-arching nanny state is usurping the way the country was originally chartered. Freedom requires and indeed is not actualized until the partakers of it are responsible for their own actions. Left wing ideas (the Democratic Party is more closely aligned with the left) tend to downplay or simply refute the idea of freedom and liberty in order to praise the idea of equality in every aspect of life. The intentions might be true but the results are terrible. The best way for any nation to succeed collectively is for that nation to be made up of responsible and virtuous individuals who care about their freedom enough to defend it and to take responsibility of the government. Rule by the people and for the people. We have become a famous and wealthy nation and attracted men of all nations because we started off this way.
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
-Abraham Lincoln (1838)
“Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”
-John Adams (1777)
In an addendum at the end of his book called Still the best hope: why the world needs American values to triumph, Dennis Prager writes the following (below) and provides a chart: (I have a problem with his “morality of abortion” section and the “place of religion in America” section needs some more explanation. However, other than that, Prager’s list is on point).
This chart is a list of Leftist beliefs and positions contrasted with American and conservative beliefs and positions. It is presented with the understanding that not every individual who considers himself Leftist or liberal holds every one of these positions. This is a listing of Leftist positions, not of Leftists. To cite but one example, there are many individuals on the Left who are in favor of capital punishment, but opposition to capital punishment is a Leftist position.
In keeping with the subject of this book, nearly all of the conservative positions may also be called “American” positions since they emenate, as explained in the chapters on American values, from the American Trinity of Liberty, In God We Trust, E Plurbus Unum.
|American/conservative values||Liberal/Left values|
|Primary concern||Liberty||Material Equality|
|One’s primary identity||National||World citizen|
|How to make a good society||Develop each citizen’s character||Abolish inequality|
|Source of moral standards||American and Judeo-Christian Values||Individual conscience, the heart, science|
|Attitude toward wealth||Create More||Redistribute|
|Morality||Universal||Relative (to individual and/or society)|
|Primary sources of evil||The individual and the state||Socioeconomic forces|
|Humanity’s primary division||Good/evil||Rich/poor; Strong/weak|
|Trinities||1. Liberty, God, E Pluribus Unum
2. Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness
|1. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
2. Race, Gender, Class
|Family Ideal||Family headed by married father and mother||There is no ideal, only love|
|Corporal punishment of children||Properly administered, it can be an important tool in raising a good person.||Always wrong. Abusive. Should be illegal.|
|Morality of abortion||Determined by society. Wrong unless life of mother is threatened.||Determined only by mother. Society has no say.|
|Death penalty for murder||Sometimes morally necessary.||Always morally wrong|
|Individual’s income||Belongs to the individual except for what is absolutely necessary for maintaining limited government||The state determines what it wants and leaves remainder to individual|
|School vouchers||For: public schools’ monopoly has a negative impact on education||Against: vouchers will weaken public schools|
|Place of religion in america||Religious society with secular government||Secular society with secular government|
|American interventions abroad||With few exceptions, they have been noble efforts to spread liberty.||With few exceptions, they have been engaged in for economic and/or imperialist reasons.|
|View of American exceptionalism||Positive: an affirmation of america’s historic role to be a bright shining light on a hill||Negative: an essentially chauvinistic doctrine|
|Nuclear weapons||The greater america’s superiority, the more secure America and the world will be.||Ideally, neither America nor any country will own any|
|Greatest threat to the world||Evil: at this time Islamist violence||Environmental catastrophe: at this time, global warming|
|Teenage sex||Family and society have great influence on teenage behavior. Therefore teen sex is to be discouraged by family and society||Society has little influence. Teens will engage in sex no matter what. Therefore society must emphasize – and teach- safe sex.|
|Multiculturalism and diversity||1. America has always been multiethnic, NOT multicultural.
2. Some cultures are superior to others.
3. E Pluribus Unum: Promote American identity among all americans.
|1. America’s strength comes from its cultural and other forms of diversity.
2. Neither American nor European nor any other culture is superior to any other.
3. Promoting “American identity” is jingoistic.
|Racism||America is the least racist society||Racism remains endemic to America and its institutions.|
|Black Americans||Should be treated no differently from any other americans. Lowering standards to accommodate blacks demeans blacks and their achievements and undermines American values.||As victims of white America both historically and today, blacks deserve and justice demands race-based affirmative action.|
|Litigation||Frivolous lawsuits are undermining quality of American life.||Few lawsuits are truly frivolous and those that are are the price of preventing the stronger and richer from abusing the poorer and weaker|
|Violent crime in America||In most cases, caused by individuals with defective consciences and value systems||In most cases, caused by poverty and/or racism|
|The best hope for mankind||The united states of America||The united nations|
|War||Often the only answer to great evil. Death camps were liberated by soldiers, not peace activits||“war is not the answer.”|