Reason: A Summary of My Political Stances
I frequently get mistaken by some of the more conservative folk out there as a bleeding heart liberal. Let me assure you that I am not. While some of my political beliefs may be on the more liberal side, some are most undoubtedly on what would be considered the more conservative side. I am what I would like to call a rationalist – when I choose a political stance, I first try to look at all the facts involved, and I carefully examine the issue. I try to remove my emotions from my analysis, and I try to logically arrive at a stance that takes into account the most common good while protecting basic human rights. So, in an attempt to bring some clarity to things, I’m going to try to produce a summary of my political beliefs here.
As I said, I try to remove my emotions from my reasoning when I make my political decisions. The reason for this, is that once you allow your emotions to cloud your reasoning, it will follow that your choices will be muddled, and not the best possible choices for both yourself and others. In effect, they will serve as blinders and prevent you from seeing the larger picture. It prevents you from actually listening to opposing views and carefully considering their validity, and perhaps even accepting views that are more in line with your beliefs and interests than your own currently are.
Now, some would argue that cold logic when applied to politics will lead to some dystopian world wherein a giant machine rules all and each human is treated merely as a cog in the machine. But that is far from the case if you START with the human as the beginning of your chain of logic. Let us do this.
First, we will assume that self-interest is the logical start of the chain. In that self-interest, one will quickly see that the needs of the society are actually the needs of the individual. A strong society will better be able to allow the individual to meet his/her needs and live a comfortable life. A strong society provides protection and comfort, and goods and services an individual simply cannot achieve on their own. What individual has ever produced, from scratch, every component necessary to build a computer, the power to run it, and the software to use on it, and the network of information necessary to make us of it?
So this leads me to one basis of my politics – that a strong society is desirable, and in fact should be a goal of government. To produce a strong society means infrastructure, medicine, education, and military. It means that safety nets must be in place for those citizens who become unable to care for themselves, and programs to help them get back to a place where they can take care of themselves.
So, yes, I am a socialist. I believe that a strong government should exist to provide a means for building the infrastructure of nation – the roads, the bridges, the lines of power and communication. Health care should be provided for ALL as healthy citizens will lead to a stronger society and a stronger economy. Education should be provided for ALL as an educated populace is a strong populace, and again will lead to a strong economy. And a strong military is necessary not only to defend the nation against any outside threats, but to aid the nation in times of crisis – times of flooding, fires, earthquakes, and other disasters. Safety nets should be in place to provide for the elderly and infirm, and those who have fallen on hard times. But likewise, programs should be in place to aid those who are capable of working, but circumstance has found them in a position unable to provide for themselves, in finding and building the means to take care of themselves, and thereby become productive members of society once again.
Note, however, that self-interest is the basis of the logical chain. This means that, while a socialist, I do not believe that the rights of the State supersede the rights of the individual. Individual rights MUST be guaranteed and protected by the very same government that helps to build the strong society. Freedom of speech, assembly, mobility, the press, of and from religion, must all be protected. The right to bear arms must be intrinsic to any healthy society, especially one with a strong government, to protect that society against the government becoming *too* strong, and infringing upon the other rights. The right to choose and govern what happens to one’s own body must be protected. The right to vote in decisions of government must be universally protected. Information must be free.
As further protection against mismanagement of government, and to further protect the freedoms of mobility and assembly, all must have the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, and be guaranteed the right of due process. This means that no person within the nation should be subjected to unwarranted search, or confiscation of their property unless caught in the act of a violation of the law. Location is no reason for suspicion – in other words, just because one is travelling through an area where someone might commit a crime, is no justification for violation of this right. And yes, this means even travelling through an airport, or into a government building. Having done nothing wrong, no person should be forced to submit to a search of their persons or property.
There is nothing wrong with a big government, and, in fact, I would argue that a big government is necessary to a fully functioning and healthy society. So long as that government is properly managed, administered, and monitored, it can serve as the proper tool to provide the framework for a comfortable life for all. It is when that government is allowed by the people it serves to become mismanaged that things go awry. And *that* is why the above rights are so crucial. The people MUST have the right of free press, and of information, in order to make informed decisions about what their government is doing, the right of free speech and assembly to talk about it, and the right to vote to change it. And, in the direst of situations, the rights of assembly and arms in order to forcibly change it should the government fail to hear their votes and make the called-for changes.
Governments cannot have rights. Governments have power and authority. Rights are inherent to an individual, a human being, a tangible entity. Governments are non-corporeal entities, and in effect, partially fictitious – they are the creations of human effort. And as such, they cannot have rights inherent to themselves, only power and authority granted them by the very same humans who created them. Note that this line of reasoning extends to corporations. As fictitious entities created by human effort, they cannot have rights inherent in themselves.
Which leads to one other entity which must absolutely be kept separate from government at all costs – the Church. While religion was originally created as a means of control, and has historically been integrated in governments in the majority of nations, it is imperative that religion be kept separate from politics and from the government in its entirety. And this is simply because you cannot guarantee the free practice of religion (and the freedom FROM religion for those who choose not to practice one) if you begin integrating any part of religion into government. And this means that no law should have any kind of religious basis. If any proposed law has as part of the argumentation a religious basis, it should immediately be discarded. No programs with religious elements should receive State funding, and religions should not be considered charities (as this provides tax exemptions and thereby tacit approval of the state and unfair taxation procedures). Creationism should not be taught in public schools (as this is not science, but religion – not all religions believe in creation, nor do all that do have the same views of creation). I am not, however, opposed to prayer in schools, so long as it is presented more as a time-out period wherein students may choose to pray, or meditate, or draw, or just take a nap. The Ten Commandments should not be posted on any government property, as this is tacit government sponsorship of a single religion. Likewise, no religious emblem should be displayed on any State property.
The government can and should have the power to tax. It cannot function without funding, and that funding is best provided by a fair, universal tax shared by all members of the society. The government should also have the power to enact the laws necessary to protect the rights of its citizens and to build the infrastructure with which it has been entrusted.
And, on one final note before I close, I do believe in personal responsibility. This does follow from the chain of self-interest, for one must conclude that the only one who can truly guarantee protection of oneself, and provision for oneself, is the self. While the societal government should be there to build that framework, and to help build the works the individual cannot accomplish upon one’s own, it cannot do everything, nor can it be omnipresent. So one must take responsibility for one’s own actions, and ultimate responsibility for one’s own welfare. Now, note that this does not mean that one is not beholden to the society. I do see that personal responsibility ultimate means also societal responsibility. For just as the notion of responsibility can be achieved through a look at what interests the self, so does societal responsibility. One must contribute to the society, and be cooperative with, and actually on the lookout for, one’s fellow man. For, the more one takes care of others, the more those others will also take care of the one. It is a reciprocation of interest that ultimate will feed into that self-interest with which it all begins. The Social Contract and what-have-you. Adams and Locke saw this, as did Plato. And they did so by removing religion and emotion from their argumentation, and looking at the core of the matter with reason.
So, there you have it. My political beliefs in a nutshell. I admit that it may seem incomplete and a rough summary, but it is a LOT of ground to cover in a very brief editorial. I’ve hit on some of the others in other editorials, and will continue to do so from time to time. And I welcome my readers to write and comment if they see a point I may have missed, or may need to further clarify.