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Republicans, Democrats and freedom

As a small-l libertarian, I've never harbored the illusion that we could trust either major party to safeguard our individual freedoms. That being said, I've usually preferred Republicans to Democrats when push came to shove. I tolerated Republican positions on social issues in favor of their economic agenda. I thought it more likely that a Democrat would raise my taxes than that a Republican would criminalize abortion. Up until now, that formulation has served me well.

Recently, however, the Republican Party has been doing its damnedest to destroy its reputation as the party of fiscal responsibility. That, coupled with the pernicious influence of the religious right, has led me to do some soul searching of late. Perhaps it's no longer true that the Democrats are the more clear and present danger when it comes to individual liberties.

There's a lot of dire talk about the current administration and its supposed erosion of our rights via the PATRIOT Act, NSA wiretapping, or what have you. But how many of us in our day-to-day lives have actually experienced a direct abrogation of our personal freedoms?

I tried to take an inventory of my own experience during the first 5 years of Bush/Republican control, and I could find precious little difference between my life now and life under his predecessor. The principle difference, I suppose, is that I now keep a larger chunk of my earned income than I did under Clinton. The other difference is that when I go gun shopping (which I sometimes do) I am now free to choose from among a wider selection of cool firearms than I was when Bush was sworn in.

So call it a two-point Republican advantage so far, I guess. It ain't much, but it's something. On the other side of the coin, how am I more constrained by government power than I was five years ago? Honestly, I pretty much came up blank on this one. Am I missing something? Granted, I'll probably never again see Janet Jackson's hideous breast on network television, but then again, we never saw it when Clinton was in office either. Besides, I can always see boobies on cable.

So what's the conclusion? I'll admit the Republicans aren't giving me much to work with here. At the same time, it's far, far from obvious that I should view Democrats as our only hope for saving the Bill of Rights. No matter how disgusted I get with the Republicans (and lately that's been a lot) I can always count on the Democrats to remind me why I don't support them either. My most recent reality check has been our newly-minted governor's proposed two billion dollar tax increase in what is already one of the most highly taxed states in the union, because digging deeper into our wallets is much easier than tackling waste, fraud, corruption and special interests. What's even more telling has been listening to the chorus of New Jersey Democrats defending this atrocity and telling us we should shut up, stop whining, and pony up.

Thanks, guys. I needed a reminder for why I can't support your party.


Repeat after me Barry:

"Divided government is the least of all political evils...

Divided government is the least of all political evils...

Divided government is the least of all political evils..."

And write on the blackboard 100 times:

"I will never pull the party lever in the voting both."

Many Libertarians would lament that, "Democrats seek to kill us with the Welfare State, eroding self-reliance and worker-motivation, while trapping the poor in dependency programs, while the Republicans seek to kill us with the Warfare State, spending tons of money on both international and domestic defense, tightening laws and sentencing guidelines and playing on people's fears to do so."

More than ever, maybe it's time for a new start.

Sad to say, I think we can safely write the Democratic Party off. It doesn't appear that they will seek to jetison their corrosive "Liberal base" any time soon...and those folks deserve to lord over a Party about the size of the "Workers World party."

Sadder still, the Republican Party doesn't seem like it's going to change any time soon either.

The Warfare State tactics have (1) been necessitated in the wake of 9/11 and (2) WORK!

The people buy into the security issue..at least most seem to.

Meanwhile, neither Party seems to want to do anything meaningful about either the border issue (the GOP LOVES cheap labor) and the Democratics can't stand to be called bigots, or tax reform - the two biggest issues of the day.

The problem with a new grasroots movement is that it takes a lot of time and money to mount them and ultimately, should one gain traction, both major Parties can be counted on to adopt at least some of the new movement's platform into it's own, twisting it to either the Liberal (Democratic) or Corporatist (Republican) traditions.

But who knows, maybe enough people will become sick enough of the current morass to be motivated to support something new.

Hope springs eternal.

I tolerated Republican positions on social issues in favor of their economic agenda.

The economic reasons are the only ones for which secular republicans voted for this administration. What you and others choose to forget is that Dobson, Robertson and the rest of the lunatics, are gradually enforcing their agenda on the republican party. They want this country transformed into a theocratic state, but they know they have to do it slowly.

You also choose to ignore the catastrophic consequences of the mistakes of this administration in foreign policy (i.e. the Iraq disaster).

> Divided government is the least of all political evils...

I think that's right, wf, and you'll be glad to know I've never voted a straight party ticket in my life.

Well, we may well get our wish come November. And as long as I'm wishing, I think a Republican president with a Democratic congress is perhaps the preferred combination.

Actually, a divided Congress is paramount Barry.

A divided legisltaure virtually guarantees a logjam in legislative action.

Then it really doesn't matte who the President is, as new initiatives are hard to get passed.

Still, though it may well be the "least of all evils," it's far from the best. We have so many outdated and wrong-headed laws to dismantle.

The question is, "Can we ever get a government with the character to do that?"

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