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What is a “leftist?” Am I one?

by Brandon on September 27th, 2008

I support Barak Obama for president.  Does that make me a “leftist?”  It seems that these days this is the only qualification necessary to earn that label.  It’s a label that gets tossed around as a derogatory and all-encompassing term but I can’t for the life of me figure out why.  Is anyone who supports John McCain a “rightist?”  Do all of those people believe exactly the same things?

Here’s an idea.  I’ll give you a few bullet points about me, and you can decide whether or not this label applies.

  • I believe in minimizing the size of government.
  • I think politics should be dealt with as locally as possible.
  • I dislike the notion of “redistribution of wealth” and pretty much despise welfare and the culture that tends to develop around it.
  • I think balancing the budget is important and that our debt and its continued growth are out of control.
  • My political ideal is that people are free to make bad choices and that they should be held responsible for the consequences. 

Those are a few aspects of my political philosophy that I consider to be “conservative” in nature.

But then there are these:

  • I do not believe in God or heaven.
  • I think science should be taught in science class.  In school I learned about the Greek and Roman gods like Zeus and Venus.  If you want to teach about creation myth in that context that is fine with me.
  • I do not think the entire world should be like America.  I’m in Italy as I write this up and it seems perfectly great just the way it is.

Confused yet?  That’s just the beginning.

I do not “support abortion.”  I can imagine no circumstances in which one would be a part of my life, and if someone asked me whether they should have one there are very few circumstances where I would even pause to consider an answer other than “no.”

But I support abortion rights, or at least oppose any ban on them at the federal level.  I do not believe that anyone can conclusively determine “when life begins” and that giving an unborn fetus rights is a slippery slope that ends with banning contraceptives.  I consider this to be a “small government” position, and would prefer that such determinations be handled at the state level if necessary.

I support gay marriage.  Not just in that I support the right of gay people to be married, but much more – I think that a gay couple who are in love and planning to spend their lives together should get married.  I don’t think the law should say anything about it either way, but my core beliefs place a great deal of value on a societal commitment being he absolute goal of a romantic relationship.

Basically, I value monogamy and embrace our societies’ decision to formalize it.  Furthermore, I believe that gay relationships are as real, natural, and valuable as heterosexual ones.  Combine those two values and the result is that I support gay marriage.

Given the above, I never know how to answer if someone asks me for my political affiliation.  Right now I support the democrats, believing that they represent leadership more in tune with my values, including the conservative ones.

From → Politics

  1. Brandon permalink

    I think you will find many people on both sides (McCain and Obama supporters) cross lines on key issues. I feel as if both parties do not fit me.

    I believe in science, and science research, in controversial areas like stem cells. As for school teachings, I really do not care for the debate on creation vs evolution, it is too political. There are so many unknown theories about how things came about. I learned that we are made from space dust, in which a large asteroid collided with the earth (which was like the moon) and gave earth the raw materials that we are made up of. I also learned of greek gods…etc. It is just history, thoughts, patterns, why does it matter? I say this as a person who believes in God.

    I also believe in gay rights, small governments, balanced budgets, social conservatism.

    I can’t call myself a democrat, or a republican. Perhaps a new party will come along, but I doubt it. There are so many combinations.

    As for voting this election, I am torn who to vote for. It will be my first time voting in a presidential election. I feel if I vote for one my tax money will be spent on an endless war, if I vote for the other my tax money will be spent on social programs.

    Both candidates at least are open to clean energy. The important difference between them there is one supports nuclear power, the other does not.

    Figuring out who to compromise on is a challenge.

  2. PhilS permalink

    Well written. I agree with most of your points and, as a longtime Republican, will probably vote for Obama. However, I don’t think either party currently agrees with you regarding the size of government and redistribution of wealth. They both give lip service to balancing the budget.

  3. Josh permalink

    I probably shouldn’t go into the whole creation v evolution debate, but I can’t help myself in saying that the whole thing seems to be pretty misunderstood.

    There are the two aspects of the theory or evolution, natural selection and macro-evolution. Creationists and evolutions both agree on natural selection which is beyond dispute and is indisputable science.

    Macro-evolution involves beneficial genetic mutation, which so far has NO proof or evidence. Equally so Creationists have no scientific proof that God created the world… so neither can provide anything more than a theory or belief in this area.

    I don’t think the debate should be over science v God… it should be about teaching natural selection in schools, and perhaps mentioning both theories and beliefs on the origin of life, because that’s nothing more than what they are.

  4. Josh – you misunderstand evolutionary theory. There is no distinction between “micro” or “macro” evolution.

    Evolution is absolutely, positively, the process by which humanity came to be on the earth. Natural selection is an explanation of why evolution progressed in the manner that it did.

    You cannot have natural selection without evolution. Natural selection doesn’t explain the biological process that allows mutations to occur, it simply assumes the existence of those mutations and explains that certain mutations are beneficial to survival and will be “selected” for by nature.

    Evolution is simply the observation that mutations occur, which is an effect of DNA creating imperfect copies of itself.

    If what you call “macro evolution” is really speciation (the creation of an entirely new species via evolutionary processes), we have observed this countless times both in nature and in the lab. There is evidence and indeed proof for this. There is undeniable proof for common ancestry as well.

    If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend you check out this very informative YouTube series:

    The first couple videos aren’t about evolution (they’re about the creation of hte universe), but you can skip ahead if you aren’t interested in the entire series. I highly recommend watching them all, though.

  5. Mike de la Pena permalink

    So six years later what is your gut feeling, was it the right vote, as most of the above I agree with some of what you believe. As an Evangelical Christian we will differ on some points, but in no way feel you do not deserve you your positions as I will assume I deserve mine.

    I like you ability to bring very complicated issues to a leve field

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