Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Party’

For many Americans, the Fourth of July is a day filled with cookouts and family gatherings capped off by a night filled with a colorful fireworks display.  However, given that the date serves as the commemoration for the birth of the nation, it is also steeped in politics.

On Wednesday afternoon, the city of Harrisonburg, Virginia held its annual parade to celebrate the day.  The weather was quite hot and sunny, a marked difference from last year when a virtual monsoon threatened to cancel the affair.

The parade boasted the usual assortment of floats and vehicles: musicians, fire and rescue teams, antique cars, and, of course, political groups.  This year, there were four different sets of folks who entered: the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Tea Party, and Abe Shearer for City Council.

Overall, the candidate who could claim the largest number of visible supporters in the parade had to be Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  There was a veritable sea of matching blue Goodlatte shirts among the Republicans.  Other Republican candidates were promoted as well including: Mitt Romney, George Allen, Mark Obenshain, and the various City Council hopefuls.

The Democratic Party had an impressive showing as well.  They waved signs in favor of Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, Andy Schmookler, and two City Council candidates. I spoke with Deb Fitzgerald, one of the Democratic candidates running, to ask if the Democratic Party only fielded two folks for the three seats up in November.  I discovered that although Kai Degner is running for re-election, he apparently had no signs printed to be used in the parade.

Running as an independent for City Council, Abe Shearer also made his presence known.  Even though some might be tempted to disregard independents, recent elections have shown that they offer beat the two party candidates for this particular office.  The outcome for this race will hinge heavily upon the battle between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at the top of the ticket and the strength of the campaigns of each of the council candidates.

During the trip down Main Street, I walked alongside the Tea Party float handing out copies of the Constitution.  In general, the crowd was very receptive and so I ran out of materials a good distance from the end of the route.

Given that the Fourth is now five days passed, you might find it odd that it has taken me so long to write about it here.  Well, I’m afraid that I didn’t feel much like writing on the evening of the event.  On the drive back to the parking lot, I decided to catch a ride on the Tea Party float.  As we turned onto a side street, the mast holding the tea party sign struck a low-hanging branch and came loose.  Unfortunately, I happened to be in the path of the heavy wooden board as it fell to the ground.  Although it was only a glancing blow, the plank did graze the side of my head and collided with my shoulder.  At the time, I was worried about the severity of the injury, and, as a result of the pain, did very little for the rest of that evening.  However, I’m pleased to say that several days later, only a yellowish bruise and a bit of residual soreness seem to be the only lingering effects.

I suppose that one could see a bit of irony in the idea of a person who opposes the idea of government-run health insurance and also does not presently have health insurance due to the tremendous cost involved, becoming injured himself and possibly in need of assistance.  Nevertheless, if a person does find him or herself in such a state of need, should one demand that the government redress this problem?  Although freely given charity is laudable, the idea of a person compelling his or her neighbors to care for his or her needs through either force or coercion seems to completely reject the basic political tenets of liberty and freedom under which this country was supposedly founded.

Anyway, to sum up, except for the surprise accident at the end, I would say that the parade was a rousing success for all of the parties who choose to participate.  Speaking specifically of the tea party, I hope that I’ll see a few new faces at our meeting later this month.

Read Full Post »

While at the Cato Institute, I picked up an interesting article entitled, “The Libertarian Vote in the Age of Obama”.  Not only does it explain and predict libertarian voter trends, it also shows the number of libertarian voters is much higher than one would expect (small “l”, not necessarily members of the Libertarian Party).  They estimate the percentage of libertarian voters is at least 14%.  Now by libertarian, they mean folks who are economically conservative and socially liberal.  The most interesting part of the piece for me was a segment on Ron Paul voters.  Not surprisingly, libertarians strongly supported Paul.  But, they discovered that only 38% of folks who voted for Representative Paul in the primary voted for John McCain in the general election, with 24% going with Obama and 33% to someone else.  In general, “the more a voter liked Paul, the less likely he was to vote Republican in the general election.”  This trend should not come as some great shock given that McCain and Paul had diametrically opposing viewpoints on many key issues.  With that information in mind, how can the GOP increase its share of the libertarian vote?

Let me start off by saying I have mixed feelings about libertarians.  I confess, in the early days of my political involvement, I held a rather dim view of libertarians.  Then again, like so many things we don’t understand and, as a result, hate, I didn’t know too much about them.  I thought that they were merely politically amoral.  Although we could agree on many fiscal issues, I didn’t like the fact that they many were socially liberal, that they would not promote our Judeo-Christian values in the government.  In addition, some of their theories sounded downright bizarre and when one of them refused to say the pledge of allegiance at a meeting, I was completely miffed.  Are libertarians anti-patriotic, anti-American?  (After reading more, I understand a bit better now).

On the one hand, I appreciate that libertarians continually hold firm to their anti-federal government stance even when some Republican leaders forget things like the Constitution and the 10th Amendment.  On the other, in general, libertarians either don’t seem to be able to instill their ideals into the heart and mind of John Q. Public, or don’t have the interest in doing so.  This deficiency likely springs from a lack of major party representation.

Given that the Democratic Party is largely liberal both economically and socially, while the Republican Party is largely conservative in the same areas, how will the economically conservative but socially liberal libertarians vote?  Obviously some will vote for the Libertarian Party, the fifth largest party by registered voters, but, given that Libertarian candidates are not always available, coupled with our first past-the-post system of elections, a large percentage will vote either Republican or Democrat.  So how can the GOP successfully court the libertarian vote? A better question is, why should libertarians vote for Republicans?  After all, in recent times Republicans haven’t even promoted their shared economic conservatism.  They exploded the national debt and eroded civil liberties through both the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security.  We (that is the GOP) must reclaim its principles, and it must do so now!  Don’t both libertarians and supposedly conservatives want a smaller, more efficient, more constitutionally limited government?  The national party should take a cue from the Republican Party of Virginia whose creed states: “That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations.”

Although I have been called a libertarian on many occasions, I assure you that I am about as socially conservative as they come.  I just believe that we must act within the confines of the Constitution.  Now, I know that as a social conservative, we sometimes toy with the appeal to promote our agenda in the nation’s capital regardless of the issue of constitutional restraint, but we mustn’t surrender to this temptation.  To do so would trample not only our own principles, but also the principles under which this country was founded.  It is the mark of the fascist, not the constitutional conservative.  After all, wasn’t it Ronald Reagan who said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help”?  D.C. has become an open grave for countless conservative ideals and politicians.

The Republican Party should never abandon their social conservative stance in order to woo the libertarians into their camp, but conversely, if we faithfully observed Constitutional limitations, I would expect libertarians would find many aspects of Republican politics to be far more appealing than Democratic ones.  With a sizable percentage of that 14% libertarian vote in our corner, Republicans both at the state and national level will find greater electoral success.  For far too long, the Republicans and the Democrats in D.C. have fought tooth and nail to see which can expand more entitlements, inflate bureaucracies, and increase meddlesome overregulation.  I don’t want to belabor the point, but the answer is simple:  Like Paul, we must advocate and implement policies that actually shrink the size and scope of the government.  Then we, that is the GOP, will be able to successfully court the libertarian vote.

Read Full Post »

The politics of color identification continue to grow in this country.  Now by color identification, I’m not referring to anything racial, but rather the “red state blue state” mentality that is becoming more widespread.  For example, in the world of political blogging and activism, we have folks like RedState and RedStormPAC on the right and Blue Virginia and Blue Commonwealth on the left.  Although not really conservative, as they hail from the “red state” of Tennessee, there is also the satirical Red State Update.

The notion of identifying the color red with the Republican Party/conservatives and the color blue with the Democratic Party/liberals is a relatively new concept arising out of the 2000 Presidential Election where states won by George W. Bush were labeled in red and states won by Al Gore were labeled in blue.  Prior to that time, there was no uniform color scheme to identify the parties.  Some years the Republicans were blue, some years they were red.  It should be noted that, so far, neither party has officially adopted their assigned color.

Personally I dislike the system and believe it would make far more sense if the colors were reversed.  Like Thomas Nast’s elephant and donkey, the colors, in my mind, serve as a criticism for both.  The Republicans should be blue as their critics claim that their tax cutting plans and trickle down economics benefit the rich, the well connected, the elites, the blue bloods.  The Democrats on the other hand promote nationalization and expanded government power like you would see in a communist or “red” country.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Painting the right-wing party blue and the left-wing party red is a fairly universal concept outside our borders.  For example, if we examine the rest of North America, in Canada the Conservative Party’s color is blue and the Liberal Party is red.  So too is it for Mexico where the PAN is blue and the PRI is red (and also green).  Moving across the pond (as the British like to say) we find Europe in much the same color plan.  In the United Kingdom, the Conservatives are blue and Labour is red.  Need more proof?  In Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Norway, and Austria, the CSU, Union for a Popular Movement, PP, Civic Platform, Høyre, and FPÖ parties are all right-wing and use the color blue while the left-wing SPD, Socialist, PSOE, SLD, Labour, and SPÖ parties have all chosen or been assigned the color red.  One can even see similar trends in Asia where in Japan the LPD’s colors are blue and orange and the DPJ is red and black.  In South Korea the GNP is blue and the DP is green (OK, it isn’t a perfect system).  Although not every party lines up with blue for right-wing and red for left-wing, especially in multiparty countries, it is a fairly accepted norm.

Thinking back to our own colors and perceived negatives about the parties, I guess you could say that the Republican Party is now red due to the zeal for war and the resulting bloodshed, but what really ties the Democrats to blue?  I think the blue Republican and red Democrat make far more sense.  After all, if the Democrats are blue, isn’t calling conservative Democrats “blue dog” redundant? Although I am certain it won’t happen, given that Republicans “hate the poor”, I say that we should salvage our elitist blue and leave red for those “commie” Democrats.

Read Full Post »

I’m sure you have all seen and participated in those blind taste tests. I know that I have. But last night, I thought a bit more about the subject. About a year ago, I tried one of the ketchup tests that compared Heinz to Hunts. Unlike soft drinks which I think are easily distinguishable, (Coke and Pepsi don’t taste a thing alike); I haven’t been in the business of comparing ketchup and cannot readily identify them by taste. As a result of the test, I found that I preferred Hunts’ Ketchup to Heinz. When I looked into the fridge to see which ketchup I purchased last, I found out it was Heinz, not Hunts. How could this be? As stated, I discovered that I liked the taste of Hunts better and yet I did not buy it when I had the chance. Why? The answer is brand loyalty. When I think of ketchup, I picture in my mind’s eye the familiar Heinz bottle and then, if I don’t take time to think about it, I instinctively picked up the most familiar bottle. When I think of tissues, I think of Kleenex, paper towels Bounty, toothpaste Aquafresh, the list goes on. They may not be the best products, but if I buy these products without thinking, I assure you I will buy these brands each and every time. That’s nice, you might be thinking, but what does shopping has anything to do with politics, the primary topic of this blog? Believe it or not, I think the concept of brand loyalty unconsciously goes through your mind when it comes to both politics and religion.

First let’s tackle the issue of religion. Although I’m aware a significant portion of folks don’t go to church while on vacation, or when simply out of town, but chances are that if you do, you’ll be attending a church that’s a member of your regular denomination. I’ve noticed this trend most often with Catholic friends, but I think it holds true across the spectrum. For example, when I attended college I went to a PCUSA church. For those familiar with the Presbyterian denomination, you may ask incredulously, “the PCUSA? Aren’t they the liberal ones?” And yes, you would be correct, they are the liberals. So why would a conservative be a member of such a church? The answer again deals with brand loyalty. Sometime before my 11th birthday, my family became members of the local branch. Believe it or not, the hometown church was quite conservative and, as I knew little of the denomination, I assumed that all PCUSA churches were like the one in which I grew up. Like ketchup, you figure one bottle (or church) bearing the label is more or less the same as any other. After several conversations with the local clergy and members in Williamsburg, I found that indeed the assumptions I held about the PCUSA were in error and the denomination was far too liberal for my theological beliefs. And yet I still attended the church, although admittedly very sporadically, until the tail end of my senior year when I found a much more conservative church. It is interesting to note that as my hometown church colored my opinion of the brand, so too did this college church. It’s like what happens when you consume a heavily expired product. That unexpected and distasteful flavor dissuades you from trying the product in the future. To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of my hometown church, I haven’t ever gone to another PSUSA church since then. Unfortunately, the extreme liberalism of the denomination has tainted that brand.

Let’s move on to the topic of politics. Brand loyalty is extremely important here and I believe that both the Republicans and Democrats cultivate the notion in order to maintain their voter base. In fairly recent times (since FDR) Republicans have been viewed as small government conservatives and Democrats are big government liberals. Do these assumptions apply to all Republicans and Democrats? Certainly they do not, but it is far easier to stereotype the brand. Why do I have to research the candidates for any office? Who best represents my values? These questions nag us in the back of the mind. What answer comes to the rescue? Brand loyalty! It’s easy, it’s always the Republican, and they are the conservatives. Now I admit it, more than once I have voted for a candidate who branded an R beside his or her name even though I knew nothing of the particular person. The great danger with such brand labeling in politics is that you can get an uninformed electorate who are more devoted to party labels than principles. In such a case, a person may vote for a candidate who stands in stark contrast to the voter, or even the perceived image of the party itself. For example, there are regional differences. In general, a Republican from Virginia is far more conservative than a Republican from Vermont. In addition, parties do change over time. Consider the words of Barry Goldwater. “I don’t necessarily vote a straight ticket in my own state because there are sometimes Democrats out there who are better than Republicans. It is hard to believe but it is true.” (Jan. 8, 1964) Despite what you may think, the Republicans and the Democrats of the 1880s are not quite the same as the parties of today. Although some politicians like to draw a point of continuity between their principles and their supposed founders, one should not be drawn in by such simplistic rhetoric. The “party of Lincoln” and the “party of Jefferson” have routinely held viewpoints that are radically different than their namesakes. Did not Thomas Jefferson himself say, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all” (Mar. 13, 1789)?

I suppose the take-home message from this article is that one should be a conscientious consumer whether making purchases in the store, choosing one’s church, and deciding for whom to vote. Don’t misunderstand me, I still plan to vote Republican in most elections, and if the PCUSA is your cup of tea, then by all means don’t let me stop you. But we must remain vigilant or else our brands can radically change under our noses. Regardless of your personal feelings toward President Bush, hasn’t the Republican Party significantly strayed from its conservative moorings lately? How many new government agencies have come into existence? How much has federal spending and the deficit grown? How many of our liberties have been sacrificed in the name of security? How has the Constitution been eroded? Is it no wonder that even a moderate like Representative Tom Davis recently stated, “The Republican brand is in the trash can. I’ve often observed that if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf”? And could it be that the politics, policies, and theology of your denomination differ wildly from your own? Just wanted to give some food for thought. Trust your brands, but I encourage you to verify their contents. Sooner or later you might realize what you are eating and I certainly don’t want the next bite you take to leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers

%d bloggers like this: