Likes: Money, oil, the Defense Department, my NRA membership card, the word “Obamacare,” shutting down the federal government, and bringing up social issues at happy hour.
Dislikes: Trees, science, taxes, the Education Department, public school teachers, the elderly, and affordable health insurance.
The above preference list is my rudimentary attempt to draw for you what I’ve begun calling the “Republican Box.” If you are in any way offended by my political generalization, please understand that I am, too.
If you spent any time on my blog before you found your way to this post in particular, you know that oversimplification is my principal pet peeve, that generalizations that distort public policy by discounting its inherent complexity push me over the edge. (See: Pluralism and the “American people.”) Now seemed as good a time as any to dissect the talking-point rhetoric endemic in party politics. My musings about political heterogeneity led me here, but they were instigated by more than a handful of adverse visceral reactions to what many assume I must stand for after I drop the R-word.
And so, a quick note regarding my motives: My words here will be part rant, an expression of my frustration at having been put in a box full of people with whom I don’t actually agree, whether to score political points, undermine conversation, or neatly close the door on views not often held by my fellow Millennials.
I identify myself as a Republican, and I consider myself a member of the Republican Party because I believe it to be the most sensible channel through which policies that foster free markets and free people can make their way to congressional agendas, presidential signatures, and Southern and Eastern and Midwestern communities.
The party is not without its problems, driven mostly by a splinter group of “purity” conservatives who misunderstand politics as much as they misrepresent the party. It’s not fair to either of us that media often use one group to identify the other, that some commentators confuse the Tea Party with the establishment while others concede the GOP to the contingency seeking to subvert it. There is a historical Republican Party, one that will make a comeback if for no other reason than its very existence depends upon it. That’s the place I call home, not because I agree with the entirely of its platform and the whole of its residents, but because I see its potential and recognize that a coalition, unavoidably diverse, is a precursor to political success.
My worldview is complicated, and it has value. Again, it shouldn’t be discredited because you heard or read that another curiously well-funded, far-right political action committee is attempting to replace a deal-making “moderate” with an anti-intellectual via our broken primary system. And in an effort to preclude any more disapproving, often alarmed facial expressions in response to my political party affiliation, I thought I would set the record straight, throw out the Republican Box and describe the one inhabited solely by me, just one member of the immense, heterogeneous Republican Party.
I am not a reactionary, nor a bigot, nor an anti-intellectual. I am not perpetuating a war on women, the impoverished, gay Americans, immigrants, or the environment. Voting Republican does not preclude me from voting morally, from being compassionate. And it is certainly not tantamount to voting with my wallet.
In the context of the federal government and selecting my representation in this city I love so much, I value above all else economic freedom, personal liberty, and individual responsibility. I value the 4.5 million employers who employ more than half of Americans. I am endlessly perplexed by this system that takes more from small businesses than Members of Congress, many of them Democrats, who boast sizable inheritances and investors in multinational corporations who have found favor with the current administration, none of whom would be in any way affected by the many of the tax increases they long for so ardently. And nothing stirs up more indignation in me than listening to the White House accuse the former of crying class warfare in an apparent attempt to avoid paying their fair share.
Between the two parties that currently dominate the U.S. political system, the GOP is closer to economic freedom and individual responsibility, and it is demographically edging toward a wider interpretation of personal liberty. I’m on the side of the risk takers, the builders of ideas, the innovators, the job creators, and the drivers of our economy. I advocate for a future in which the consolidation of power and money within a cumbersome federal government is not indicative of social progress, the employer is treated with as much respect and given as much protection as the employee, and economic and social choices are made by individuals within a free market, not by a state with the authority to pick winners and losers on the back of the taxpayer it admonishes.
I want our government to work. I want it to invest in programs and people that clearly have the potential to be nationally, and perhaps globally, beneficial. I want our roads to be paved and our air to be clean. I want kids to have access to an affordable education, and I want Americans to have access to affordable health care. However, in a political context, my faith is in the individual, where responsibility and creativity and innovation begin. I don’t despise or disregard the populations and initiatives valued highly by those on the left. I often want what they want – I simply envision a different path forward.