It occurred to me this morning, that I have more beliefs in common with Republicans than I would have ever thought.
I’ve always been a supporter of individual rights, especially the right to work hard and reap the benefits of that hard work. I’ve suffered a setback or two in life but it’s been nothing that I’ve blamed others for, or asked a free pass on to the next level. My upbringing certainly leaned towards individualism and self-reliance: we never asked for or accepted government subsidies while my parents were alive and working. Working poor. Proverbs 17:1 means so much more to me now than it did as a child; we weren’t the happy-go-lucky laborers ala Phil Robertson, but the tensions in my family home didn’t arise solely from outside influences. I was able to have a largely uneventful childhood. It’s ironic that much of my aversion to government subsidies is due to the fact that kids whose parents received food stamps and a ‘gubmint check’ dressed and ate better than I did. And rubbed our faces in it. As an adult, I’m aware of the evils of striving for more than I need, which has led to more than one set-back for me; but, I believe the evil of receiving something that you didn’t work is even greater.
I used to dislike Ayn Rand on principle, had never read anything she wrote, just looked at her most ardent supporters (white, Republican, sometimes racist) and thought she was a rabid separatist who thought whites were a superior race. Out of a sense of needing to know personally why I disliked her, I picked up one of her books. It was an eye-opening experience, and taught me again that ideals and beliefs can be twisted to fit the needs of anyone’s agenda. She was against racism, and she believed affirmative action was a form of racism. I didn’t agree with that initially, but I see her point now. I mention Ms. Rand because her philosophy of self-reliance, objectivism and not living a sacrificial life was particularly freeing for me. It cuts out so much clutter in dealing with people when you place the onus on them to live their own lives. One of her characters in the book I read says, “I do not live for others”. It’s a useful go-to mantra when my day is threatened to be overwhelmed by OPP – Other People’s Problems.
We could spend our wheels going around and around about which came first: the evils of being subsidized or the necessity for the subsidy, but it has to end eventually. I’ll never lift a finger to hurt someone, but I’m now starting to understand that their success or failure is not my fault. I’m not going to sacrifice my life to ensure their success or comfort. So, I get where so many Republicans are coming from when they complain about taxes going to support those who won’t lift a finger to help themselves. I want to believe in a society where one’s success and failures in life are largely due to their own “selfies” (self-efforts). It exists? Yes it does, and we’re working towards it as a country. Now as the pendulum swings back towards conservatism, I can only pray that if we are indeed “post-racial”, the country can judge each person solely on their merits, reward each according to their efforts, and get used the the success of each person with out comparing them to an ideal that simply doesn’t exist in reality.
I won’t stay in the “closet” long. I’m announcing to my community through my actions, that I will not support others’ poor choices. This may hurt the people depending on these poor choice-makers – that’s always been the case. I recall that as a child, my siblings and I suffered much due to our parent’s poor decisions, but no one butted in and said, “Here, let me make it better”. I’m learning to differentiate between true community support, and blind altruism. If parents won’t take responsibility for their childrens’ upbringing, I am going to fight to keep my tax dollars away from bridging that lapse in personal responsiblity. But I will fight to ensure that should that child make it to the classroom, they’ll have a world-class education. I don’t support separatism, but I won’t stand in the way of those who wish to disengage from a damaged society. I’ll call you a hypocrite if your success has been built on serving the undeserving; yet you wish to keep them out of your neighborhoods. I don’t believe in “job creators”; there’s nothing benevolent about a business owner who expands and has more jobs to offer – it’s only to keep the profits coming in. And those profits depend on cutting production costs, don’t they? So, the worker must advocate for himself at some point in the game. If my taxes go to support something everyone can enjoy – let’s do it. I don’t mind that parks are improved, even though I rarely use them. But I do mind my taxes be spent to put someone in housing that I myself can not afford. I can’t stroll throught their front door and enjoy their well-built, stylish homes or apartments. And when I walk into my crummy apartment (all that I can afford), it takes a minute to locate my gratefulness for the roof over my head.
I won’t touch healthcare in this blog – that’s a blog unto itself. But we are rapidly crossing the line between acting humanely towards our fellow man and acting as his keeper. Once we do that, we’re one step closer to revivng slavery – as that was the basic premise of capturing humans and forcing them to adapt to /serve another culture – to civilize them.
Republicans have a lot of good ideas. Some of these ideas have been diluted by the shadow of classism (which is really the only “ism” left) which leads to the failure of a lot of their platforms. Some of their ideas are based on the belief that there are intrinsic differences between racial groups that determine which group should be on top, and which should follow. A careful perusal of Ayn Rand’s philosophy would put that hogwash to rest, and remove a lot of the cries of injustice that one hears when exposed “isms” that were carefully hidden and suddenly brought to light when a proponent of “bootstrap beginnings” is caught dishing out favors to followers whose only qualification was a superficial trait.
I’ll know more about what my true “orientation” is tomorrow – after I read the morning news.