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We Are Not the Tea Party; We Are the Free Party     

November 7, 2012  Post-election reaction by a young professional who grew up in the Southeast, was educated in the Northeast and now lives in the Southwest

Based on what I saw on the social media platforms, the political blogs and the “news” channels over the last year, this was the most hopeless, personal and divisive presidential race I have witnessed in my lifetime. It wasn’t just the far right and far left enthusiasts or the ignorant extremists trying to intellectually (and emotionally) destroy each other, it was my peers, the new wave of 20-40something year old young professionals who were not thrilled with either candidate, who were posting very personal, bitter content that was often more about hating one candidate than loving the other. We have a problem. This election wasn’t about personal or political beliefs coming to a head, it was about the fact that our generation, the new wave, the up and coming core of this country, who are just now realizing that the results of a presidential election affect our real lives, have been left staggering around blindly because we have no good options. To generalize, we are social liberals and economic conservatives without a party.

The Democrats look great on the social issues when compared to the Republicans whose idiots run around talking about legitimate rape, anti-marriage amendments, racial profiling immigration policies, employer limited contraceptives and women in binders. The Republicans look great on everything else when compared to the Democrats’ policies that have us at an alarmingly increasing 107% debt to GDP ratio and a budget that may never be balanced, where 47% of Americans pay no taxes, where 49% of Americans receive some sort of government assistance, where national bankruptcy and widespread poverty are knocking at our door, and where a centralized federal government increasingly regulates and takes power from the states, threatening the very liberties that the Democrats’ social policies favor right now. There is no good option.

As always, the talking heads on the major news media programs spent the election year gleefully splashing around in this giant kiddie pool of hot button issues, rousing both viewers’ emotions and national ratings while guiding a significant population of this country’s votes. A lot of us were so taken aback by the hideous things the talking heads told us were said on the Republican side of the fence that we considered voting Democrat just to oppose a party that is portrayed as a bunch of bigoted, sexist racists; we toyed with the question of whether a slick looking Harvard JD/MBA with a proven budget balancing talent from a party of bigots might be better than four more years of a Harvard JD who is a big government socialist at worst and an academician idealist (like many of us) with a mediocre plan for fixing the economy at best. If we went by the facebook posts from our friends and the email forwards from our grandparents, we had a choice between a homophobic, sexist elitist and the antichrist. We had no good option.

None of my friends who were thrilled with Obama the first time seemed to be so this time, but a lot of them chose to vote for him again either because of an inherent distrust of Romney or disgust with Romney’s stated personal beliefs about gay marriage or abortion/contraceptives. Most of my friends who voted for Romney were less vocal about it, seemingly almost embarrassed of their choice because of his and the Republican Party’s stance on the hot button issues, the same hot button issues that the talking heads splashed around in for a year, effectively polarizing the country (while achieving high ratings) and inciting voting patterns based on issues that should be mostly irrelevant at a federal level. Romney himself even repeatedly noted that although his beliefs on abortion, gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, immigration, etc, were very conservative, they were issues that should generally be left to the states, not the federal government.  Obama more graciously noted his less conservatives stance on many of these issues, but he stood by the notion of a federal government which is big and powerful enough to start making those decisions for the states, as it has in the world of healthcare.

{I won’t even go down the healthcare reform path into the maze of my conflicting political and professional convictions; suffice it to say that I prefer that healthcare be left to the states, but we already have existing federal healthcare policies that needed massive reform, Obama was the first president to be able to pull that off, and while the vague and far reaching language in much of the Act scare me, I know that its passage was a tremendous achievement for the Obama administration and hopefully our country; despite my discomfort with big government, I hope that we are able to amend and further shape this Act into something that will actually benefit our country and save us from the previously inevitable decline into a scenario where the poor are denied even basic care and the rich can barely afford it. I just hope it accomplishes this (and more) without destroying our medical profession and bankrupting the system. Again, I get hives just entertaining the conflicting voices of the internal libertarian, lawyer and public health professional within me on this issue.}

So here we are, nursing our post-election hangover and idly scrolling through our facebook home feed, muttering expletives at the people who are still talking about the election, particularly the self righteous, whether gloaters or complainers. We are slightly jealous of our hard core friends who backed one candidate or the other to the point of religious zealotry; we wonder how they arrived at that point and whether they just ignored the facts, never knew the facts or allowed emotion to trump the facts. We wonder if this is just how American politics go, if this is how it has been for previous generations and if our helplessness induced apathy is just part of the deal. We wonder if it really even matters who gets elected, whether a different candidate would really make any different choices when presented with the top-secret facts about which we’ll never know and which we fantasize look something like Seasons 1 and 2 of 24.

This is a call to my peers. There is absolutely no reason for us to blindly stumble down this crusty, stale old path that has nothing to do with us. There is no other country in the world where personal liberties and freedoms are as protected as they are here. THIS IS OUR COUNTRY. We are the ones who are going to be left with this mess in 20 years if we don’t defend our interests now. If we try to vote independent or libertarian, our votes are wasted in this two party system. We need to reform one of the parties (or both) into something of which we are not ashamed.

I vote that we reform the Republican Party because I value decentralized government and individual freedom above all else. The problem with the Republican Party is the longstanding bigoted, racist, sexist old ideas that are used to motivate the older generation of conservative, religious right wing voters. I reject those ideas in the name of freedom and in the name of America. We are a country founded on the idea that all people are created equal, that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that government is created to secure those rights and derives its power from the consent of those whose rights it was created to protect. This is what America is about, and this is the purpose of the government.

Founded by anti-slavery activists, the Republican Party’s strength is sound economic theory, high value of the free market and individual achievement, strict construction of the Constitution, and the idea that a smaller federal government that gives more power to the states is one which best protects our freedom and allows us to flourish as a nation. The ultra socially conservative path that the Republican right has taken in recent years has alienated so many of our generation, evolving to the point that it has smothered this country’s and its own founding principles holding individual freedom and liberty above all else. I propose that we, the new wave of “moderates,” loosely defined as the socially liberal and economic conservatives, take back the Republican Party in the name of freedom.

The Tea Party was able to reform a portion of the Republican Party to fit its beliefs; they demanded what they wanted, and they got it. While our ideals are very different from theirs, we stand in the name of freedom, the founding principle of this country and of this party, and that is something that no American in their right mind can argue with. We believe in a decentralized government, one which allows us to determine by state the extent to which we will allow the state governments to regulate our bodies, our businesses, our right to bear arms, our right to marry who we want without government interference, our access to contraceptives, our taxes, and our public programs. Giving power to a federal government to impose regulations across our massively colorful and diverse population is insane. Even the EU knows better than that. We are the United States, and the principle upon which we came together was freedom from an overbearing government that interferers with our personal liberties. We are not the Tea Party; We are the Free Party.

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  5. Since social liberalism today amounts to activist government, it seems silly to think that can co-exist with economic conservatism.

  6. Let us be perfectly clear: there is a Progressive Ruling Class Party, with Democrat and Republican divisions.

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