Thursday, April 27, 2006

What Color Are You?

A relative of mine recently discussed on her blog the characteristics of living in a red state as opposed to living in a blue state. The message I believe was that all of us, no matter what political affiliation we claimed we had, had characteristics of both conservatives and democrats. For those who are unaware, a “red” state voted Republican in the last U.S. election, and a “blue” state voted Democrat. Republicans are often referred to as “conservative,” while Democrats are often called “liberal.”

Before I go further into my personal characteristics (following up on the “things that make fatbody tick” theme), I would like to gripe about the characterizations of conservative and liberal.

The Oxford English dictionary, online edition ( defines “conservative” as:
• adjective 1 averse to change and holding traditional values. 2 (in a political context) favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas. 3 (Conservative) relating to a Conservative Party. 4 (of an estimate) purposely low for the sake of caution.
• noun 1 a conservative person. 2 (Conservative) a supporter or member of a Conservative Party.

The same dictionary defines “liberal” as:

• adjective 1 willing to respect and accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own. 2 (of a society, law, etc.) favourable to individual rights and freedoms. 3 (in a political context) favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate reform. 4 (Liberal) (in the UK) relating to the Liberal Democrat party. 5 (especially of an interpretation of a law) not strictly literal. 6 given, used, or giving in generous amounts. 7 (of education) concerned with broadening general knowledge and experience.
• noun 1 a person of liberal views. 2 (Liberal) (in the UK) a Liberal Democrat.
— ORIGIN originally meaning “suitable for a free man”: from Latin liberalis, from liber ‘free man’.

My gripe is that I see the United States of America as the flagship country of the world in the cause of freedom. Isn’t that what we hear every day on the news from our President? “Freedom” will not be defeated. You can’t deny “freedom.” When the people of X country experience the “freedom” to make their own decisions, there will be peace.

The introductions to two pesky documents come to mind:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Now if you know the documents these quotes come from, congratulations, you are smarter than 75% + of the US population who could not identify these quotations.

From my point of view, if you follow what is said in these quotations, you must understand there is a message of tolerance and respect therein. The word “liberty” is mentioned twice, and before anyone tries to split hairs or put spin on this:

The Oxford English Dictionary online edition defines liberty as:

• noun (pl. liberties) 1 the state of being free from oppression or imprisonment. 2 a right or privilege. 3 the power or scope to act as one pleases. 4 informal a presumptuous remark or action.
— PHRASES take liberties 1 behave in an unduly familiar manner towards a person. 2 treat something freely, without strict faithfulness to the facts or to an original. take the liberty do something without first asking permission.
— ORIGIN Latin libertas, from liber ‘free’.

So it seems to me that the entire U.S political way of free thought is based on liberalism, the act of believing in liberty, and taking the liberty to do things (like to be conservative and buy SUVs and declare liberals traitors). I would think that if you opposed the liberal way of thinking by clinging to some “conservative tradition” that isn’t well defined in argument that you, at the heart of the matter, don’t believe in a “free political state.”

That is, of course, contrasted with Tyranny, which the Oxford English Dictionary, Online Edition defines as:

• noun (pl. tyrannies) 1 cruel and oppressive government or rule. 2 a state under such rule. 3 cruel and arbitrary exercise of power or control.
— DERIVATIVES tyrannous adjective.

But a tyrannous nation would be a nation that forces its philosophical will upon everyone, like telling them they can or can’t do trivial things; telling them they have to believe the things the majority believe or be held treasonous; telling them they must support troops and a president without dissent or be declared NOT a patriot; denying them rights given to all “normal” Americans (e.g. the right to marry, the right to assemble in protest, and most importantly, the right to disagree).

What I just hinted at is that conservatives can argue against liberals until they are “blue in the face” but really, if you think about it, they are all liberals. How many times can you turn on Faux News and see frat boys claiming that they should be allowed to drive oil guzzling machines if they so choose; that they can hoard money and not subsidize the poor; that they have the right to choose where their children go to school; that they should be able to accept corporate campaign contributions; that they should be able to do what they want when they want if they can afford to do so. These, like it or not, are liberties, and a belief that one has these choices, like it or not, is liberalism.

That is of course unless archaeologists have found the troupe of Hummers the founding fathers drove around as they mapped their new country.

Ok well back to the point. Now that I’ve griped that conservative and liberal don’t really fit as extremes of the same political spectrum, I will go ahead and give you my characteristics that make me agreeable to a “red state,” as well as my characteristics that make me agreeable to a “blue state.”

- I believe in a strong central governement.
- I believe in a national ID that all citizens should carry at all times.
- I believe in having prayer or spiritual “meditation” time in public schools.
- I believe in anti-desecration legislation against symbols of our society.
- I believe in the right to own firearms.
- I believe abortion should be illegal.
- I believe that people should not be taxed according to income.

- I believe in the socialization of medicine and health insurance.
- I do not believe in the privatization of social security and welfare programs.
- I believe the death penalty should be abolished.
- I believe in the institution of gun-owners insurance.
- I believe we should respect our environment; that we should curb our contribution to global warming, conserve oil and other resources, and protect endangered species.
- I believe in nuclear non-proliferation.
- I believe in the separation of chuch and state.
- I believe the words "under God" should be removed from The Pledge of Allegiance
- I believe the act of "swearing on the Bible" when testifying to a court or when taking public office should be abolished
- I believe in the freedom of religion.

Now, you get extra points if you realized that having the choices to have these rights and the beliefs stated above, whether in blue states or red states, is liberalism, then you get a pat on the back and a “hooray” from me.


Anonymous said...

- I believe in a strong central governement.
- I believe in a national ID that all citizens should carry at all times.

I think you're wrong on the above two points. People who live in Red states are generally more conservative and want less regulation and limited government.
(Unless your name is George W. Bush!)

Captain Fatbody said...

I would have to say that traditionally you are correct in this argument. However, past history indicates that these beliefs are not the case. I applaud you for commenting that, unless you are George W. Bush, your statement is true. Unfortunately it goes beyond him. Most of our republican senators, congressmen, and other lower elected officials all suport him and his ideals over the people. These officials are elected by the people. Now, the theory of incumbents always being re-elected asided, if the people did not support what their lawmakers were doing, they would not vote to have these lawmakers in office. Perhaps I am naive, but I feel the traditional belief of small government, which was part of George W. Bush's original platform, has drowned in the neoconservative movement. It has pushed traditional conservatives to a more moderate position, in my opinion.