What is a “leftist?” Am I one?
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.