I grew up in a Christian, Republican household in the 1960s and 1970s in the city of Columbia in South Carolina. Growing up were I did, and when I did, I was actually taught about the Constitution, and was taught certain political values. Now, you might be an Atheist, or of some other religion than I, and thus you may disagree with the reasons or motivations I give for certain of these; but I doubt you entirely disagree with their importance on secular grounds. For instance, though we may disagree on the origin of 'inalienable rights', it's more likely than not that you agree they exist, even though you may struggle to articulate why.
- I was taught that the dignity and worth of humans are not granted to them by other humans as a favor or reward, but by God as gift of inestimable value. The primary hallmark of this gift of Life is free will. Free will is what defines our lives as ours. What is given by God cannot be stolen by anyone. This is the meaning of 'inalienable'.
- I was taught that people have individual responsibilities to themselves. It's your body... take care of it. It's your soul... nurture it. My parents knew that it was their responsibility to teach me to do that, and that as my ability increased, their responsibility decreased proportionately. They having completed their job, I am required to stand as a self-sufficient adult. To the maximum extent possible, power and control over an individual's life rests with the individual himself, and the exercise of his own free will. This is the meaning of 'liberty'.
- All of the rights we have... speech, assembly, religion, self-defense, due process, etc... and all of the abuses we're protected from ... self-incrimination, martial oppression, etc... are merely re-statements of our inalienable right to Liberty. They are -- all of them -- guards against tyranny and oppression. It is certain that the tyrant who would oppress you is the first person who will tell you that it is silly to guard against tyranny. For that reason we can never assign the task of maintaining vigilance to the very government it is our responsibility to oversee. We can never give up our Vote or the 2nd Amendment. This is the meaning of 'civic duty'.
- I was taught that "a man's home is his castle" is a truism. The family is the smallest unit of collective government above the individual's responsibilities. Within the boundaries of our property line, and in all matters for which no State or Federal legislation existed, our parents' word WAS law. I actually knew that this principle was stated right there in the Constitution, in the 10th Amendment. This is the meaning of 'autonomy'.
- I was taught that freedom comes with responsibility. That among our first responsibilities is to respect the rights of others. As such, I was taught that regarding a great many things, what someone else does is none of my business. They may be immoral, impecunious, sacrilegious, self-destructive, or just plain crude; and it is their right. As we value our rights, so must we value theirs. This is the meaning of 'respect'.
- I was taught that sometimes, other peoples' actions are my business, and I have the responsibility to work out when that's appropriate. It's appropriate when another person - particularly one who is helpless - is being oppressed. It's appropriate when I'm asked for assistance that I'm able and willing to provide. It's appropriate when a person is incapable of exercising his own free will. This is the meaning of 'social consciousness'.
- I was taught that contrary to common usage, your freedom does NOT end where another man's begins. My freedom is inalienable: so is yours. That means you cannot use yours as a wedge or lever against me. Instead we must be willing to co-exist. This is the meaning of 'tolerance'.
- I was taught that prosperity is a blessing. and as such should be shared. We are blessed with more than money. We have talents, abilities, strength, knowledge, space, time, and things we no longer need. Any of these can be shared with someone who has a greater need for them than we do. Because our gifts are blessings, sharing them should be done freely, out of Love. Caritas is the Latin word for 'Love'. This is the meaning of 'charity'.
- Charity is not the giving of alms... it is the reason for the giving. And I was taught that I neither need nor should demand an 'incentive' to perform charitable acts. If you give with expectation of receiving something, it is not charity; it's a purchase. However... we are tasked with only one great commandment: we are enjoined to treat others as we would wish to be treated. Charity is given to those in need with the understanding that were it not for the grace of God we ourselves might be in that same predicament. We treat others as we would wish to be treated, and assist them in bettering their condition. This is the meaning of 'compassion'.
- I was taught that it is not shameful to receive charity. How could it be...? Charity is an act of Love. To receive love is never shameful. However, to demand love is. A great many things have been re-labeled 'entitlements' rather than 'charity' so that they may be demanded by the people receiving them. 'Compassion' literally means 'with feeling'... there is nothing of compassion in an entitlement... an entitlement maintains a condition, it does not better it. There is nothing of love in a demand.... it is not generosity to be a victim of robbery. Therefore, though they may be necessary in extreme circumstances, the receiving of 'entitlements' is a shameful state; and should we find ourselves there, we should do everything in our power to get out of that state as quickly as we can before necessity gives way to expectation and demand. This is the meaning of 'self-esteem'.
- I was taught that we have the right to join with others of like mind to act in concert. So we form churches, and charities, and societies, clubs, and fraternities. We can form PACs to make our concerns known, and can appoint lobbyists to present our arguments to legislators. This is the exercise of 'democracy'. The government has no more business regulating these than they have regulating our individual freedoms. But should you want me to subsidize your club, at the very least it should be my informed choice, not covert diversion of funds though bureaucrats I've never heard of. You say you're doing good and need money...? Ask me for it. Because of this, such an organization cannot expect autonomy should they invite the government to join. So it seems axiomatic that seeking tax exempt status is, in most cases, a very bad idea.
- I was taught that my money and my property are mine. So are yours. We earned them. They are not "the government's". NOTHING belongs to the government at all... rather, those things the government claims belong to each citizen in equal measure. People often use the term 'fairness' when they mean 'equity'. They're not the same. There is nothing whatsoever fair about stealing that which I earned and handing it over to someone who did not earn it in the name of equity. Out of charity and compassion, I choose where and how to redistribute my own wealth. This opportunity is denied to me when those assets are forcibly removed. Therefore, each person should pay as little to the government as is required to operate only those agencies and functions that are necessary. The tax code should be simple enough for a child to understand. The tax rate should be low enough that exemptions are unnecessary. It should be intelligent enough that the same money doesn't get taxed repeatedly. It should be an unobtrusive means for the People to fund their government. Instead, it is used to coerce, control, and punish the citizenry, who live in direct, abject fear of the agents who are allowed to wield direct and extra-ordinary powers. This is the meaning of 'oppression'. Yet the current tax code, as published by the GPO, fills a 20-volume set of books. (That's the part written by the IRS). Combined with Title 26 (that's the part written by Congress), it comes to 16, 845 pages. It requires an entire government agency and a commercial industry of lawyers, accountants, and specialists to comply with and collect money from this mountain of regulation... all to just to say, "How much did you make? Send part of it here." This is the meaning of 'unacceptable'.
As I said, I grew up in a Christian, Republican household, and with respect to Politics, these were the highly Conservative values that we were taught. We were taught to do what's right because it's Right, not because we're forced to. To force your will upon others was, to put it simply, EVIL.
Nevertheless, politicians have become increasingly evil over time, and most self-described "Conservatives" haven't even noticed it. From a religious perspective, I say this without hesitation: it is EVIL to legislate morality. Free Will is the one great gift we are granted. It is so precious to God that, even when we use it to reject Him, He will not stop us. Who are you to deny someone that gift? Proselytize... fine. Witness... fine. Best of all, be an example. But people will disagree with you, just as they disagree with God. You cannot assign yourself the power to force them to your will. You cannot declare for yourself a responsibility to do what God Himself will not. That is lunacy. Yet the Right has embraced that very lunacy, and in doing so they have reserved for themselves the word "Conservative". I would personally prefer this word to be reserved for those who wish to preserve the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and this is not what they do despite strong rhetoric to the contrary. "Republicans", as the name implies, remember that we are a representative Republic. However, they under-stress the 'representative' part of that description, choosing to force your actions into conformity with their beliefs. Keeping in mind that under the Constitution, anything not prohibited by law is legal, each and every law represents some limitation of your right to self-determination. Every law, no matter how high-minded and noble, is an erosion of your Liberty, and Republicans have demonstrated their time and again their love for laws to control you. They preach Liberty and practice oppression. This is their country; not their church. It is a distinction they fail to make, though it is not difficult.
The Left has their very own form of lunacy. Branding themselves "Democrats", they would centralize as much control as they can through the confiscation of money, and then re-distribute it so as to create a grateful horde of dependent vassals. They would then modify the government to leverage the voting power of their bought-and-paid-for majority. Thus you see constantly increasing Democratic calls for new entitlements (both enslaving the taxpayer and denigrating the recipient), constant alarms should existing entitlements fail to increase apace (they call any slowing of the rate of increase a 'cut') and vociferous calls for the direct popular vote of the President. They purposely avoid the uncomfortable fact that our system is deliberately set up to avoid the oppression of mob rule, calling the system 'antiquated', as if mob rule has been eradicated. In setting up their nanny state of dependency, they would insist that you relinquish your 2nd Amendment right, 'trusting' them to police themselves; and they do so by directly lying to you about the nature of the 2nd Amendment. THEY will take your money, THEY will give it to whom THEY want; YOU will work for THEM. And yet, they have the nerve to say they act in the interest of "the People". Maybe once upon a time the Democrats did, but it's difficult if not impossible to find an era where they didn't either have controlling membership in the KKK or engage in the Power Politics of divisive class and racial envy.
The Left like to imagine themselves as scientific and progressive while the Right is repressive and superstitious. This is an opium dream, and nothing more than marketing. According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, 90% of Americans are spiritual. You can match every Bible-thumper on the Right with some practitioner of New Age woo on the Left. The only reason the Right appears to be more religious is that they tend to pull in the same direction, as opposed to the Brownian motion of Leftist spirituality. There is nothing particularly logical or scientific about the outrageous thoughtless dogma that dominates the outlying wings of both major parties.
Let's look at a graphic:
|Graphic source: the Libertarian Party of Ohio|
Libertarians, on the other hand, actually believe what they claim to believe. Imagine that! People who are honest for a change! Of the political parties of which I have some knowledge, the Libertarian party is the ONE that matches every single one of the political principles I grew up to believe without wrapping it up in a particular pointed agenda (like the Green Party).
So in the 2012 Presidential Election I cast a vote for Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party... one of only about 16 thousand people to do so in South Carolina.
Now, I've been asked why I wasted my vote, since "my guy" couldn't win. Well, to that I respond first that "my guy" could have won if everyone else hadn't wasted their vote. Republicans wasted theirs on someone who didn't win, and so have no great claim to superiority on that count; and Democrats wasted theirs on someone who lied to them, and who has spent his Presidency eroding your Liberty and burying himself in scandal.... allowing American diplomats to die... spying on citizens by seizing records of all of their phone calls through at least one provider... targeting citizen groups for bullying by the IRS... giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels... raising the cost of healthcare across the country. More Democrats wasted their votes more thoroughly than did the members all other parties combined.
But also I respond that it's not a waste to honestly cast a vote in accordance with your sincere beliefs. An election is about representation; it's not about your ability to pick a winner. That mentality is truly ludicrous. For the electorate, politics is dirt simple: if you do not vote for the representation you want, then you will never get it. There is no incrementalism possible. You will never march back toward Liberty by electing a Republican or Democratic candidate whose most strenuous promises will always amount to a mere slowing of the continued march away from it. I refuse to do that again.
So today I'm not a "centrist Republican". I'm not "Libertarian in principle". Though I've failed to admit it, it's been true for a very long time.
And if you're perfectly honest, you probably are, too.
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