Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Partisan Delusion

We're witnessing something interesting that allows us to examine the underpinnings of partisan loyalty and adherence.  With notable exceptions, the same politicians, voters, and media outlets that lament taxation and regulation as "government oppression" are supporting and defending the use of lethal force by law enforcement and torture abroad.  And they are doing so without explanation of the cognitive dissonance between the two.

We need to accept one thing first - actions of government are done on our behalf.  This is not a perfect system, with prejudice and corruption affecting the result as well, but in its most simple terms we are accountable for the actions of our democratically led government.  The basic premise does not change based on the action involved.  The government taxes on our behalf, regulates on our behalf, goes to war on our behalf, builds roads on our behalf, etc., etc.

From that premise, we have a platform for political debate.  If these things are done on our behalf, we should have a say on whether or not certain activity is permitted.  If taxes are too high, we vote in people who will lower them.  If we've entered an unnecessary war, we vote in people who will get us out of it.  We cloak these decisions in political parties, but these constructs are really just machines to unify voting blocks and simplify voter decisions.

Lest we mistake political parties for political philosophy, there are instances such as the one I've pointed out where those who would like the government so small that it may be "drowned in a bathtub" would also like to arm it to the teeth.  As a political watcher (and sometimes participant), I thought the important issues of Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, drones, the war on drugs, and torture would create an unstoppable union between libertarians and conservatives by pointing to government excesses and saying "stop".  Instead, due to the pesky inconvenience of whose party was in power when such methods were used, that union seems weak.

And for that reason, I think we need to pull this nugget out of the regular political conversation and examine it.  Democrats do this too - entering conflicts on humanitarian grounds while disregarding the simple proposition that war propagates poverty more than most other evils in the world.  We are often encouraged to vote against our interest and the most common means for doing so is political party.  It's ok to stop and think every once in a while.

Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!