By : Jim Pinto,
By : Jim Pinto,
What are the real differences are between Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives? The whole political system seems to be based on polarized, aggressive antagonism. I cannot help feeling that is a subversion of democracy.
San Diego Mensan, December 2003
I've been asking friends and acquaintances to tell me what the real differences are between Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives. I've got to tell you - no one, and I mean no one, gave me a cogent definition. I got "opinions" all over the map! Indeed, some explanations were totally reversed from others.
Some people belong to one political party or other because their family, peer group, region, social status are associated with that party; nothing else but tradition and habit. No ideology at all.
When confronted, some people come up with wisecrack definitions: Democrats come up with good things to do, Republicans figure out how to actually pay for those things. Democrats spend money on the poor, Republicans cut taxes for the rich. Republicans are strong on law and order, Democrats preach utopian socialism.
Overall, there seem to be more hawkish Republicans, more likely to accept war as a quick fix for complex international situations; Democrats tend to prefer war as a last resort. Some think that Republicans mostly have money. Democrats are generally poor. Are there poor Republicans and rich Democrats? Oh yes - there are the Kennedys and some movie stars. But, who are the poor Republicans?
When it comes to conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left, the story became even more peculiar. There are those who insist that conservatism is against government control of personal lives, whereas liberalism strives to achieve greater good through removing personal freedom. Are there any liberal Republicans? Or conservative Democrats? Is a left-wing Republican more to the left than a right-wing Democrat?
Many agree that political labels are divisive and restrictive. Most thinking people I know are a mix of views, defying any label. And I worry about the ones who are not such a mix; this usually means that they haven't thought much about the issues, and are simply falling back on "the party line".
I'm starting to think that perhaps the two major political parties are the problem. The political "hierarchy" somewhere develops the "party platform" and then the rank and file must toe the party line. No matter what awful problems arise, the party in power comes up with excuses for failure, and criticism is immediately dismissed as purely partisan politics. The whole political system seems to be based on polarized, aggressive antagonism. I cannot help feeling that is a subversion of democracy.
Someone said, sadly, that 9/11 did indeed have one positive effect. For once, all Americans stood together, united against the evil that had been perpetrated against our country.
How then, and when, can we unite again?
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