Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'm Debating with Myself about Conservatism and All This Political Boondoggle

J1 (me) and J2 (also me) are talking about what the title of this post says they're talking about. Why hello, they're in the middle of their conversation right now:

J2: So were you ever a conservative?

J1: I don't know. It doesn't seem like a useful label. I mean, I don't know what I'm trying to conserve . . .

J2: Well, traditional marriage, for one. 

J1: No, I'm not interested in that, per se. I've written about traditional marriage and gay marriage, but it was mostly because I didn't think that Americans debate the issue in a meaningful way. Republicans cite biblical passages (none of which have to do with gay marriage), and Democrats toss snark bombs about how Republicans supposedly claim God will blow hurricanes across the land if we let gays marry. I tried to open up another view using secular sources, which is more along the lines of what the French have done in the marriage debate. Anyway, I'm more libertarian than anything when it comes to marriage. Not conservative.

J2: Okay, then. But you care about conserving water. 

J1: Right. I am always trying to conserve water. Very important.

J2: But, seriously, you are the most conservative, the reddest, of all your friends. Certainly the reddest of all the friends you hung around with in the English department at college.

J1: Who knows? How does one measure blue and red?

J2: Well, do you disagree with the Republican party on anything?

J1: Of course.

J2: Name something.

J1: Global warming, gun control, immigration, war, drug laws, deregulating big business, and so on. 

J2: . . . 

J1: Yeah.

J2: So you're a Democrat?

J1: No. I won't ever be Democrat because I reject concentrated power, and the Democratic party is unabashed in their attempts to grow the power of the federal government. 

J2: Libertarian then?

J1: No, because I believe that regulation—the rule of law—is a necessity, especially when it comes to corporations. And I strongly reject Ayn Rand's argument that taxation is theft.

J2: Green party?

J1: I don't even know what they believe. Pro-plants?

J2: Yeah, maybe.

J1: Well, I definitely like plants. So . . .

J2: But are you more left or more right?

J1: It's impossible to say. I could sit down with someone who identifies as a Republican and agree with them on a range of issues. Same with a Democrat. Left vs. right seems to be an increasingly meaningless spectrum, a spectrum that exists only because TV news needs it to exist.

J2: But what's a better spectrum?

J1: I wish I knew. I like what Jon Stewart said in an interview with Rachel Maddow. He said that the spectrum should be corrupt vs. non-corrupt. I like that. I also like Steve Jobs's argument that the spectrum should be constructive vs. destructive.

J2: Would you say then that you belong to the constructive party?

J1: Haha. That'd be a great party. Impeccable! Actually, I don't know what to call my ideology. I think a lot of Americans feel what I'm feeling. We look at the current political pony show and we know that we're not that.

J2: I know I feel that way.

J1: Yeah you do. The problem is that I don't know what group I fit with. Mainly, I like community and democracy. I admire the first democracy—ancient Athens—above any ancient society and most modern ones. Athenian playwrights, politicians, philosophers. They all were able to produce what they did because of the best idea humans have ever invented: Democracy. 

J2: But the word democrat is already taken.

J1: Exactly. So I don't know what to call myself. I only know I identify with the statement "I seek not for power, but to pull it down." That's my political ideology. It's strange because it's an ideology that's more or less just against something—against the status quo, and against cronyism in politics and corporations. I wish I could find an organization that shared my ideology—not an official political party, but just some group of people I could belong with. I wish I could find a group that recognized that the opposite of left isn't right despite what the TV says.

J2: Those notions seem noble but somewhat vague . . .

J1: That's true. I probably need to define my own beliefs more clearly before I can find a group to join. But that's the making of another discussion, right?

J2: Right.

J1: You know, it's hokey, but I created snapshots of three quotes that resonated with me as I read in preparation for this post.

J2: Oooo, snapshots?

J1: Yes. Words slapped together in Illustrator.

J2: Our creativity never ceases to amaze me.