Thursday, August 17, 2006

On Radicalization

I am a liberal. Some might even say radically liberal.

But not really.

When I get into political discussions with my wife, my friends, etc., it typically seems like I am the most liberal in the group. I am pro-choice and oppose all legal restrictions, including mandatory waiting times, notification laws, etc. I believe in progressive taxation. I oppose the repeal of the estate tax. I support an increase in minimum wage. I hope that the tax cuts passed since Bush took office will be repealed so that we can have a balanced budget that includes proper funding for our troops, our schools, science and the arts. I opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning, knowing that it would ultimately make the U.S. and the world less safe, destabilize the Middle East, radicalize thousands, and distract us from more pressing concerns. I support embryonic stem cell research. I believe the importance of the First Amendment. I believe in the free exercise right of individuals, but just as strongly as I believe in the establishment clause and the separation of church and state. I have the radical idea that science standards should be established by scientists, not local school boards filled with evangelical Christians. Any legislator arguing to introduce Intelligent Design into the classroom should be removed from office. I would like to see funding equality for schools at least at the state level. Local funding leads to savage inequalities. I think that No Child Left Behind is a hideous piece of legislation, in the same realm as the atrocious Digital Millenium Copyright Act. I trust the scientists who argue that global warming is real. I support increasing fuel efficiency requirements. I would like to see a tax on fuel-inefficient vehicles and on gasoline that would be directly applied to scientific research in alternative fuels. I support ending the War on Drugs. I believe in Due Process, even if it applies to alleged terrorists like Jose Padilla. I believe that marriage is a wonderful institution, built on love, and that gays and lesbians should have full marriage rights. I believe in the right to privacy. I am inclined to favor single-payer insurance, though I'd like to see more data on it. In the meantime, I would support legislation that would force big box retailers to provide a living wage and benefits, like that recently passed in Chicago.

Those are just the ones off the top of my head. I don't see any of them as being particularly fringe. If you asked, I could probably put together some decent, calm, cogent posts on each and every one of those. However, given that I support candidates like Howard Dean and Ned Lamont, I know that many would label me as part of the "angry left-wing." I have a much better understanding of how I got to this point after reading what Ezra said. After years of fame and/or power for people like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Joe Scarborough, Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tom Delay, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rick Santorum, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and blogs like Little Green Footballs, Powerline, Instapundit, The Free Republic, etc., I can't help but scream. (No links to any of those because I just can't stomach it...)

When I started this post, I had intended simply to link to the two posts by Ezra Klein. As usual, though, my passions got the better of me and I had to go on and on. In summary, I would simply say that I was not always like this. I viewed myself as a moderate, and felt that I typically had a temperate disposition. However, since November 2000, it seems like fate and the Republicans have done all they could to make me cynical and disillusioned. I hope that 2008 brings hope of a new direction of leadership. Until then, I guess I just have to continue yelling.


At 2:13 PM, Blogger Atraeyu said...

I remember our conversations at the Vermont Pub and Brewery, way back when. I think those were 2002-2003.

I had just barely started trying to learn about politics, world events, etc - and I had immediately taken a very left wing stance. I remember that very distinctly because I thought of you as moderate to slightly right-wing. Perhaps that was an off-base association I made based on your religious preference - no offence!

In any case, I too have come to consider myself a moderate; my old views have become slightly less aggressive and I choose the path of (what I consider) common sense.

It is not necessary to regulate the choices of individuals when they are of sound mind and it will not harm others: Pro-choice, Pro-speech, Pro-Marriage Rights for everyone.

It is necessary to preserve our First Amendment Rights. I believe that Intelligent Design has no place in the classroom for very specific reasons
. I also detest the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and believe very firmly that it was introduced by greedy filchers and passed due to sheer ignorance.

But hey, I think that stuff is all very moderate. I really do.

What I see occurring more and more is the time-honored technique of forcing your opponent into a corner: You’re either with us or against us. Define your position as moderate and make the opposition look extreme. For example: You can’t support the troops and at the same time oppose the war. Those are at odds with each-other. You either hate those that are defending our freedoms or you support the war. These sort of arguments are great at making moderates look like Baby-Eating Satan-Worshipers.

I didn’t mean to take up this much space on your blog, but I’m at work and bored. In any case, I agree with everything you said – good to see a new post from you. :)

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Huh? You mean my religious preference? That's kind of funny that you thought of me as right wing. :-)

What you talk about at the end is a concept called "framing." It's been under much discussion in the past couple of years. (See George Lakoff for more). Here's a comic about it...


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