Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Year of Living Republicanly

I was thinking of doing a blog called The Year of Living Republicanly, as everybody seems to be doing a "Year of Living" series ... And, OK, I was pretty serious, as I felt and feel out-of-touch in a grassroots way with my Republican brothers and sisters. If I listen only to one group, I begin to become the thing I dislike. For example., I remember how stunned I was when one of my Republican friends told me in 1996 that the only reason I voted for Clinton was that I was brainwashed by people with hidden agendas. Whattttt? I sputtered---NO, that's YOU... you voted for Bob Dole because you've been brainwashed by people with hidden agendas! Oh--I get it. BOTH sides say that. "My" side is a mirror of "their" side.

OK. Point taken.

I thought a good way to avoid groupthink (an oxymoron if there ever was one) and liberal fundamentalist partisanship would be to commit to reading and interacting in a serious way with conservatives. I started researching and then thought: I can't do this. And it wasn't the Republicans. Instead, it's the overall political and economic situation in this country right now that's, let's say, a "downer" ... and while disengagement isn't the answer, merely worrying isn't the answer either.

When I think about the U.S. situation today, I look at history, and wonder: How can having a few very, very wealthy people and many people becoming poorer and angrier by the day, not end badly? I think Weimar Republic, French aristocracy circa 1787, Russian aristocracy circa 1903, English aristocracy circa 1635 .... not good. The short-term positives I hang onto are a: I'm no doubt being an alarmist, b. even if crisis hit, countries with a democratic --or at least stable--tradition tend to come out right on the other side. c. California so far seems to be an example of people trying to use the political process to drive reform.

But--before I drop this topic of politics-- in the spirt of non-partisanship, I quote from Michael Lind in Salon. Lind has a point of view--that Americans have a right as citizens to "freedom from want" or "economic citizenship." This organizing point of view transcends allegiance to any one party. (His full piece is at

Here's what he writes:

"While George W. Bush pushed for partial privatization of Social Security, he failed because of massive public opposition. But Bush and the Republican majority in Congress succeeded in enacting the Social Security drug benefit, a flawed but genuine expansion of economic citizenship. Clinton is the only president to have successfully supported the destruction of a New Deal entitlement, while Bush presided over the greatest expansion of the Rooseveltian entitlement system since Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare."

Do you have an organizing principle or point of view that transcends party politics? Where does faith work into this for you?

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