The Political Question – Why Am I Who I Am Politically? Part 1

Share Button

A couple of people on my Facebook page have wondered why my politics are what they are – libertarian with a dash of conservative. I started to write what I thought was going to be a short answer, but realized there is no short answer, and it was going to be longish, so I moved it over here.

————————————————-

I’ve always been a non-conformist…. A non-conforming non-conformist actually! 🙂 I’ve never felt connected to things the way others have… Have always found myself standing outside of things even if I’m right there in the room… Oh… that probably sounds like crazy talk… maybe it is!!!! 🙂 Perhaps because of that, I’ve never felt at home in either party. I hope that short statement will make more sense after I’m done writing this post.

Chapter One – The 70’s:

Where to start? Nixon?

I was a kid at the time, and politics was a meaningless concept. The first President I can remember is Nixon. I had no real idea what he had done to tick people off so badly. There was the tail end of Viet Nam, and I knew that was not a pleasant thing – it ended badly. I do remember the day he resigned, got on the plane, and flashed the peace sign, because the family had been on vacation in South Padre Island on the Texas coast, and we were just getting ready to leave the place we were staying at, and that was about the last thing on the TV before we turned it of to go. What his policies were, I had no idea. I just knew he had done something bad and had to go away. And again, I did know it ended badly.

Then there was Ford, who just kind of came and went. About the only thing I remember of his Presidency was that some woman had tried to assassinate him, and he was the punch-line for Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live.

1976 – The Bicentennial. I remember that it didn’t mean that much to me, but I was young. The family went to a late picnic and watched a really big fireworks show. Another thing I remember was the push for the Equal Rights Amendment. This might be the first aspect of political policy that I can remember. Of course, I didn’t really understand the political underpinnings of the feminist movement, but I remember thinking this ERA thing was kind of dumb, because I could see all around that women were able to do the same things as men, get jobs, be in congress, and vote. Was this my first disillusionment with politics?

Jimmy Carter… Jimmy Carter… Disillusionment. Politically, this is where things amp up a little, when I first start getting acquainted with the fact that what goes on with the national government affects my life. Jimmy Carter was going to be the person to heal the country and bring us all together. Well… That ended badly. I was about eleven, and I wanted a job! (what was I thinking) I couldn’t get a job because the Federal Government wouldn’t let me! Said I was too young! OK. I knew that wasn’t Carter’s fault. But, there was something called inflation. I wasn’t sure what it was or how it worked, but I knew it caused the price of chocolate and candy bars to jump from 10 cents, the only price I’d ever known, to 25, then 35, then 40 cents in a very short time. That REALLY pissed me off!!! And Carter seemed powerless to stop the inflation thing. Then there was the seemingly never ending recession (= job loss), stagflation (had no idea, but it sounded bad) gas lines (that waas easy enough), and, to top it off, the Iranian hostage crisis. Carter just seemed so powerless to do anything. The boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics was the last straw for me. As a kid, I loved the Olympics, and Carter took them away from us. What a stupid, petty action to take! It punished our own guys to spite the Russians! Later I would recognize that the NCAA operated in the same lame fashion, handing out punishments against school that don’t have any effect on the ones who actually broke the rules, and punishes those who are innocent.

About the only good thing that came from the Carter years was the brilliance of Saturday Night Live, and Dan Aykroyd’s Carter impersonations, and a skit where he visits an LA gang, and gang member John Belushi insists to him that “We’re not a gang… We’re a club!”.

Note – I continue to hold Carter’s Presidency in low regard, but have long since come to the realization that many of the things that happened during his Presidency were way beyond his control. He was, in essence, a victim of bad timing. And he often gets overlooked for positive things he accomplished – the Camp David Accords, deregulation of government run industries such as the railroads and the airlines. He deregulated more than Reagan yet doesn’t get the credit due. He does here.

As I became a teenager, I became more aware of things that were going on around me, which leads me to…

Chapter Two: The 80’s

High School – It was the time of the Republican resurgence… Reagan, Thatcher, and all that. And I wasn’t connected to it at all. Some people loved Reagan, some people hated him… I just thought “Meh, whatever”. Perhaps I was already jaded by the Carter years. Perhaps I was simply trying to survive my teenage years. Maybe, as an aspiring actor, in my eyes I saw that he was just playing a part. I wasn’t fond of some of his politics either. He seemed like an old guy with old guy values – the war against porn, the “Just Say NO” war against drugs…

***Sidebar – I’m not a drug user. Have never done coke or X or most of anything, even when those around me were stuffing their noses and doing all sorts of stuff.***

… Here is the deal with Reagan. He was an old guy. He seemed nice enough. But he seemed to sometimes get too much credit for thing HE didn’t do. The fall of the Berlin Wall. Yes, he made that bold speech at the Brandenburg Gate, but the wall would not have fallen if not for the very person he names in the famous line “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Without the loosening of the Communist shackles started by Gorby, that never would have happened. In later years, it would be shown that Reagan’s military push did have an effect on the Soviets, but, ultimately it was Gorby who bucked the establishment and instituted Perestroyka and Glasnost, not Reagan. And before someone says “Wat? Reagan cause the Soviet Union to go bankrupt”, well, that’s rubbish! The Soviet Union was bankrupt long before Reagan was sworn into office. Gorby was the one who admitted it.

Republican party politics didn’t really mesh with my views, especially on social issues. I was Libertarian before I realized there was a word for it. Drugs? I thought people should be able to do what they want, as long as they don’t endanger other people by getting behind the wheel of a car. I was pro-euthanasia. If a person is so sick and they are suffering with no hope for a cure… If they want to end it, fine. It’s their life!

Abortion?

Of all my political positions I had in high school, this is the only one that has changed… some. I was I would say strongly pro-abortion when I was in high school. I am still pro abortion, but I’m also more pro-life. That may sound like a contradiction, but I’ll explain. From a scientific view, a human fetus becomes viable when it can sustain itself, with assistance, outside the womb. No controversy there. At the same time, I recognize how precious life is, the gift that it is to be alive and breathe and do things that make up a life. So, in the end, I’m not blindly in favor of abortion as i once was. But, ultimately, within limits, the first couple of months, even though I don’t approve, it should be a mothers choice.

At this point, you might be saying “Mike, you realize you are more liberal than conservative”. Yeah, maybe… But maybe not.

In 1984, though I was “in the closet” (I really hate that term, but everyone knows it, so I’ll use it here) I was (if memory serves) a registered  Democrat. Knowing that I was gay, that was what I was supposed to do. But Mondale, Pres candidate at the time, and Democrat politics in general, also made absolutely no sense to me, didn’t connect with me at all. Examples:

Racial politics.

Didn’t have an effect on me or the world around me. I know some might be offended by that. But I’m simply relating what I saw at the time. Like the ERA a decade before, I saw black and white and brown people all doing the same things, having the same opportunities as everyone else.

Union politics.

During this time period, I began to pay attention to economics. I hadn’t studied the details, and it would be a number of years still before I would have any idea who Adam Smith was, what the difference between Keynesian and Supply Side economics were, the up-sides and downsides of each, or the pro’s and con’s of being off the gold standard. What I knew was that the Reagan team had changed the pieces of the game, and all of a sudden, we had economic growth, the likes of which we hadn’t seen as long as I had been alive and could remember.

The Japanese were absolutely kicking our buts in just about every category, especially automobile manufacturing and sales. They had much better quality, and could build and manufacture cars at a cheaper price… And they could build them HERE! So, what was the difference? Unions. they didn’t have them. We did. It became obvious that union structure added HUGE cost overlays to the manufacturing sector, and it was clear that they would be the death of the American Auto sector, as well as steel manufacturing and other sectors vital to our economy. Just about every industry in the US was dying, while non-union businesses were thriving. Unions had gone from being a positive force in the business world, to something that would only lead to economic disaster, because it wouldn’t bend to the changing reality of the business world. Unions were huge organizations that seemed to take money from the workers checks, and then create conditions that caused people to lose their jobs (I now know it’s more complex than that, but this is how I saw the world) Their control over Democrat politics was completely overbearing, and I couldn’t identify with a party that was going to lead employment into a ditch. Democrats were supposed to be for the little guy, but the unions did not look like the little guy. They looked like one giant fighting against another giant.

***Sidebar – It must be noted that in the 80’s there was no conservative talk radio, there was no Rush Limbaugh or any other undue influence. This was me getting a grasp on the world.***

Dems had in the past talked a good game in private about “gay rights”, and would ride in gay pride parades, but the actual voting record of so many were opposite of what they would promise and campaign on. They just PANDERED SO HARD AND OBVIOUS, with no real intent to follow through. I saw this over and over again in the 80’s. Though I wasn’t as in tuned to politics as I am today – hell, I was too busy trying to figure out my place in the world to really care – I could see even then Mondale was a horrible candidate… what I would later refer to as a retread. I didn’t change my registration, because Republican politics didn’t really speak to me either. I ended up voting for Reagan in 84 and Bush 1 in 88, because economically, they were looking forward, while Democrats were looking back to policies that led to the economic conditions of the 70’s.

*** Sidebar – Of all the politicians of the 80’s, I liked Thatcher better. She seemed to have a class, a toughness, a willingness to go against the grain that you just don’t seem to see today. And she was damned smart! She came up the old fashioned way… She earned it!***

Chapter Three: The 90’s

By the 90’s I was learning more about both politics, economics, and government structure and spending. I had heard there was a political philosophy called libertarianism. Though I didn’t agree with the hard-core wing, my politics were closer to them than either of the two major parties, I fit better with them, so I became a card carrying Libertarian… And yes, they even sent a card to put in my wallet! …

By this time, I recognized that politics is as much a game as anything else; a game of making promises, of distorting facts, of lying when the need arises, and of smearing the other side in order to get elected. When the 92 elections came around, I was pretty pissed at GHW Bush… not because he raised taxes, not because we invaded Iraq, but because he lied about the ultimate reason we went into Iraq – Oil! Not that we were going in to “steal” their oil (though in hindsight… maybe we should have! Just kidding). It was a flat out lie. And I had already seen so many Democratic politicians talk the game about gay rights, and equality when they came to safe districts, but had watched them vote the opposite once in office. I realized that they probably DID support gay rights, but had to vote against the actual legislation, because they wanted to be able to get re-elected and didn’t want that vote on their record. I got it… It’s the game! Unfortunately, it was clear that a politician will vote against what he or she believes if it will help their next election. Again, politics is a game…. and part of the goal of the game is survival, which means you need to be able to compromise on some things in order to accomplish others. It’s survival.

Along comes Clinton. He seems much more honest and I voted for him. And the first thing he does is to try and fulfill a promise made to the gay community to end the witch-hunts to oust gays from the military. How refreshing… and how Stupid! Though it was something I very much supported – I lived in San Diego at the time, and knew a boatload of gay sailors, marines, etc (people really have no idea just how many gays there are in the military) – I recognized right away that this was going to end badly because Clinton hadn’t taken the time to first make the alliances necessary to achieve that goal. And we ended up with DADT. I know more than a few military folk who would say things got worse under DADT than under the previous policy. I applaud Clinton for trying, but that should not have been the first thing out of the gate. It was unwise politically, and it set the tone for his entire Presidency. Then he tried to tackle health care, and the worst mistake he could have made… he made. Instead of putting a professional in charge of that, you know, a doctor or surgeon or the like, someone with intimate inside knowledge of the way the system worked, he put his wife in charge. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Hillary, but she was simply not the best qualified person for the job. Is there any wonder why the Dems lost the house in 94?

Impeachment.

When it was revealed that Clinton did lie to the Grand Jury, I didn’t have a problem with impeachment.  I wasn’t rabid about the prospect; I  wasn’t one of the cheerleaders who was demanding this is what must happen now. If that was how Congress decided to treat this, then so-be-it.  You can’t have a President lying to a Grand Jury, just for the sake of protecting his rear on personal matters.  In retrospect though, I do think that action has hurt the country in the long term. Republicans gained a cockiness because of it, and the Democrats became much more bitter about ever dealing with their political rivals.  There are certainly a lot of causes to go around, but the current situation of constant gridlock that has manifested itself in our Federal government, is worse because of this action. In retrospect, I believe something like a Censure would have been the better way to go.

There are holiday things that demand my attention, so I’ll have to stop here. I will continue with the 2000 elections to the present in a few days.

2 Comments to “The Political Question – Why Am I Who I Am Politically? Part 1”

  1. By Jim Hlavac, March 26, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

    hey there, found you through gay patriot — great article you write here — I’m in league with you somewhat — and my FB friends (many Tea Party folks,) are puzzled, but, well, interested in what I say on the gay thing too … but different than you in that I’ve never been a Democrat. My father and uncles were Goldwater Republicans, apple did not fall far from tree. (Look up his gay quote, 1994 — rather eye opening … )

    I was politically aware though, since I began reading National Review at 15 (we seem to be roughly the same age, happy b’day,) — but I also wrote a paper for Mr. Ford’s history class in 9th Grade which was rah rah gay folks — he mumbled a lot afterwards “Well, I never …” And I do have a degree in politics and economics from NYU (my home town university)

    I was not in the closet, ever, I don’t think (though with each new hetero I meet I have to “come out” all over again, yeesh.) and certainly all my gay friends in the ’70, ’80s & ’90s’ where “Is your family really this gay friendly?” And I was “yep.” Never a negative word.

    Meanwhile, I had cousins in Communist Czechoslovakia who I smuggled Led Zeppelin too and can speak to them in Czech about the “hroznovi socialismus” the horrors of socialism.

    So, in short, I understand where you’re coming from — and I definitely agree, as with gay patriot — there’s no gay position on any matter before the public — except well, gayness — we’re OK, they’re perplexed, is the way I put it.

    So, keep up the good work — and as I joke on many a gay blog: “One of these days no one is going to give a damn about gayness, and you shall have to choose a politician on pocketbook issues, and not smooching.” They hardly know what to say, for I think most gays don’t think economically, and are one issue voters — whoever says a nice word, they vote for. Sad, but true.

    Cheers,
    Jim

  2. By Sonicfrog, March 26, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    I really don’t remember if I was ever registered as a Dem or not. I think I was at one point. But it was more because I had to register as something, and i didn’t identify with the Republican side at all.

    Do note that I’m not exactly loved at GP. If I disagree with something or someone over there, I’ll not hold back. Some don’t like dissent. But what can you do.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply