Politics Thursday: Practicing charity towards political foes

I have no idea how many of the sites in my Bloglines account ended up there (probably one reason I'm constantly deleting sites). I've imported a few OPML lists from various places, and added sites on my own that I can't remember why. Andrew Tobias found his way onto my list at some point, and he's proven to be an interesting read lately. I like one thing he wrote a few weeks ago:

" 'Excited' might not always be the word, but for me 'resolutely committed' certainly fits - because to me the difference between rushing to attack Iraq and not, degrading FEMA and not, favoring the ultra-rich and not, allowing the coal mining industry to regulate itself and not, impeding stem cell research and not, teaching intelligent design in Science and not, nominating judges in the mold of Scalia and not, addressing global climate change and not - these (and more!) are just too important not to stay in the game."

I figure that's a fairly good explanation of why I'm currently more turned off by Republicans (and especially neocons) and less by Democrats. I see too many of the "and mores" and "and nots" in the Republican agenda, and frequently they're doing things that appear to me to be bad decisions. I'm not a single issue voter, there's a long list of things I don't like about the Republican policies these days. Single issue voters is just one of those things, they seem to be attracted to the Republican part more often than not. More frequently than not I just don't think they make good decisions. Time and time again I see them as wrong on things like Iraq, taxes, science, secrecy, foreign policy in general, appointments, religion, spending, "and more" and making decisions where the "and not" was the right choice. That's not to say I buy into the philosophy Republicans are destroying our country and we're all going to be living in a theocracy any time soon. I do believe there are plenty of people pushing for that, I just don't think it'll happen.

My personal life influences my political outlook as much, or more than, those folks in Washington do. My social circles (Friends, family, friends of friends, friends of family, coworkers, and so on) are full of people from all walks of life. At work I'm surrounded by mostly neocons. You'll never see my whining about how I'm outnumbered and surrounded at work. I think it's good to be in this situation because I learn how other people look at the world in a very different way. At home several of my friends and family members are conservatives as well. A few are proudly liberal, and the remainder fall somewhere in the middle. And let's not rule out the LISNewsterz, what I read here tells me a lot about what kind of people are on either side. Everyone I come in contact with stands a chance of teaching me something about themselves, and their politics.

This being an election year I'm in the rather unique position of being in a congressional district where we have a chance at replacing an "up and coming" Republican with a Democrat. I say "unique" because of the way districts are drawn incumbents (in both parties) have a huge advantage over their challengers. Our district is one that just last year registered more Ds than Rs.

I'm not sure why, but I've, until recently, almost always been politically neutral. When I say I'm neutral I don't mean I'm apolitical, but rather I'm not someone who identifies strongly with either party. I just happen to identify less with Republicans than Democrats lately. I see both parties as being similar in many ways, and most politicians as being in it for themselves. I'll go so far as to say I currently tend to agree with more Democratic ideals that Republican, but much of the time politicians from both parties leave me wondering just how exactly they got into office. When a big issue comes up I try to see what both sides are saying and then make up mind based on what I think. I try to question both sides and see who has the best answer. I don't go looking for echo chamber idiots to reinforce ideas I already have. I agree whole-heartedly with Daniel's philosophy of "getting past the politics of personal attack." I always hope to learn more about political positions, whether I agree or not, so I can be sure I understand how something might impact the future.

So, here's my four compliments about President George W. Bush:

  1. Increased IMLS spending
  2. Focused on security
  3. Increased research on alternative energy
  4. Represents his constituency very well
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