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Battle Lines Can Blur the Truth August 6, 2010

Posted by rjpeel in Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Republican, Truth.
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I like to listen to conservative talk radio–because they keep a very vigilant eye on what is being done to erode our freedoms and to increase the waste of tax payer money (something that I believe to be beyond shameful).

I find that although I am frequently in agreement with the positions of these conservative talk show hosts, I am often at odds with their lack of decorum, the intensity of their feelings, but most importantly, I find that I am often frustrated by their unwillingness to yield or soften their position when this is the right thing to do. I understand that there are elements in our society that are actively trying to take freedom (and the product of our labor) from us, and that we should be passionate in the fight against this, but this only excuses the excesses to a certain point.

The excess that disappoints me the most is, I believe, caused by the battle lines that have been drawn by each side. One such battle line is the line between openness and tolerance of the Muslim religion and it’s followers and the fight against terrorism. For varied and complicated reasons, Liberals have taken the position that we should be more open and friendly toward muslims (and even those with ties to terrorists) because our hostile attitudes are only creating more hatred and more terrorists. Conservatives, who have been comfortable in their anger toward Muslim extremists, have responded to this by pushing their position even more heavily toward fighting the terrorists.

As a result, both sides have moved away from the truth–away from those values and positions that will help us most effectively fight terrorism. Both sides embrace a portion of the truth, and advocate some actions that are important and even necessary, but then they take things too far, in advocating positions and actions that are detrimental and deliberately avoiding good positions and actions because they are part of the enemy’s platform.

Liberals are arguing in favor of allowing a mosque to be built near ground zero in New York, because we need to show the Muslims that we are their friends, not their enemies. We need to stop creating more hatred toward us. The conservatives say this is a huge insult to those who were attacked by militant Muslims on 9/11 and that we cannot appear to look weak to the Muslim world–which, they argue we do whenever we cave into giving them something they’d never give us.

The problem is that both are simply positions. In this case, the conservatives have a strong position that resonates with the American people, and I believe, their position came first–as a natural reaction to 9/11. Because it was the conservatives that had the sitting President at the time of the attacks, and because that sitting President took the fight to the Muslim extremists, the fight against militant Islam became a strong conservative platform.

The Liberals cannot let the Conservatives have such a strong platform without any sort of challenging platform, because they’d give up influence if they allowed it. So, they have no choice but to come up with a platform to challenge the Conservatives. Openness and tolerance are among their most effective platforms, and it seems to fit the situation, so they bring this particular weapon to bear against the Conservatives. But they can’t just argue for openness and tolerance and understanding, because they can’t allow the Conservatives to be even a little bit right, so they must also attack the opposing side as not just ‘incomplete’, but as wrong. So, the tendency is to vilify the fight against militant Islam–the only way fight terrorism is to show them how much we love and respect them. This is the only platform they feel they can put forth, because it is the only platform that makes them the one and only group that is ‘right’.

For EXACTLY the same reasons, Conservatives reject most every suggestion to engage in any campaigns of tolerance and kindness to the Muslim world because this would be to say that the Liberals might have a point–something they cannot admit, because they might lose some influence.

Thus the battle lines are drawn.

But because both sides have a portion of the truth, and because they both reject what the other side brings to the table, they are both bound and determined to be wrong–dead wrong. We will allow the terrorists to grow in brazenness, because we are too divided to strike them fast and hard. We will also allow the terrorists to grow in strength because we are too divided to effectively reach out to those Muslims who do not support extremism in order to show them we love them and want to be their friends.

In the end, we will lose this battle, and so many others, because we drew the wrong lines. It’s OK, it’s actually the right thing to do, to acknowledge that the other side is right–when they are.

Star Wars and The Paths to Tyrany June 7, 2010

Posted by rjpeel in Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Republican, Truth.
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I’m a fan of the Star Wars movies–the first movie I ever saw in an indoor theater was the first Star Wars movie (apparently it was important for the movie going public that their movie going experience be separated from me by distance and mostly sound proof barriers).

Skip forward many years.

Although I found episode III (Revenge of the Sith) to be so disturbing that I haven’t been able to watch it a second time, I did gain a very important insight into life from this motion picture. I found it very interesting that in the end, Chancellor Palpatine had set himself up to win no matter which side won in the conflict. If the republic won the war with the rebels (in this one, the rebels were the bad guys–which is an interesting lesson about the nature of labels, but I digress), then the Chancellor had full control of the senate. If the Trade Federation and the other rebels had won, then the Chancellor was also their leader (in one case, the Chancellors identity was secret, but his aims were clear; whereas in the other his identity was known while his aims were hidden). Either way, though, it was everyone else who lost.

I think that in this whole debate (yes, perhaps this is a euphamism, but I’d like to think positively) of Liberalism vs. Conservatism, we must recognize that the same potential exists. Both Liberalism and Conservatism offer a path to tyrany–and there are those on both sides who crave power and who try to pursue this goal.

Those people who crave power will try to use our identity against us and trick us into supporting them–we must reject this!!

We must accept that both political philosophies offer paths to tyranny—and we must protect against those paths on our own side just as ardently as we campaign against those on the other side. Otherwise, eventually, this rubber band tug of war over the support of the citizens of this country will snap in one direction so strongly that we’ll find our freedom is lost, along with our ability to get it back any time soon. And it’s impossible to say which side it will snap on.

Arizona’s New Law April 27, 2010

Posted by rjpeel in Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Life and Politics, Republican, Truth.
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It is truly amazing to see the brouhaha over this illegal immigration law in Arizona. However, what really amazes me is the idea that some people think that the law is racist or worse. Arizona is being labeled a Nazi state (notice they don’t say communist, why is that?). 

Does it really not make sense that in an area where there is a massive influx of illegal immigrants and illegal invaders, the authorities would require individuals to be able to prove their citizenship, so they can remove those who are there illegally? I mean, really?

Now don’t get me wrong, I see the issue of illegal immigration as being more complicated than many conservatives. I believe our country has a right to protect itself against illegal immigration and that we need to close the borders and instead focus on ways to bring the people who want to come into this country here in a way that is legal and mutually beneficial–however, I do have compassion for some of those who already find themselves here.

I believe that our response to those already in our country illegally should be tempered by an understanding that it has been our choice for years not to enforce the laws–which seems an invitation to a people who are desperate to escape abject poverty and horrid violence. They must bear responsibility for coming here illegally, but our lack of enforcement did create an unwritten invitation for these people and we must include that understanding in our response.

In addition, my family knows, from personal experience, that some of the illegal immigrants here in this country are here because they were brought here by others–and they bear NO responsibility for the crime that brought them here. Some might say that then it is their responsibility to leave. I say that compassion can and should lead us down a different road for these individuals. Our family knows a young man and a young woman who were brought into this country years ago by their parents. These children did not commit any crime, their parents did. Our hearts were softened to the plight of the illegal immigrant and those U.S. citizens who help them when we learned of the young woman in this family I mentioned leaving her parents because her father was abusive. She was scared, all alone, and in this country illegally. Someone helped her. They gave her a place to live for a short time, helped her with other resources, and did not turn her over to the authorities. I admire and applaud this family for their compassion.

So, like so many of the issues that are so divisive between the political factions in our country. Things are much more complicated than either side wants to admit. We should neither turn a blind eye to illegal immigration because we want to increase our voter pool, nor treat all illegal immigrants without compassion or understanding. It takes more effort, it takes people who care more about right and wrong than they do about right and left.

Arizona’s law is a good one. Rather than focussing on killing a good law that the people of Arizona need to protect themselves against drug cartels and other criminals, we should be focussing on working with those who made the law to ensure that it is not abused. Those of us on both sides of the aisle must work with mutual respect to see that this law is implemented with that same respect.

Instead of turning our wrath on the typical illegal immigrant, we must hold accountable those politicians and businesses who create an environment that encourages people to enter this country illegally. These are the people who deserve our disdain. They are the ones who are keeping our borders open to drug cartels, murderers, and gangs for their own selfish benefit.

Rights and Responsibilities April 9, 2010

Posted by rjpeel in Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Politics, Republican, Truth.
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Being that my profession is in the marketing industry, I try to learn from some of the giants in the industry. One of these giants is a man named Seth Godin. He’s a remarkably insightful person who blogs on marketing and business development, but also comments within these contexts and without, on life in general. Seth is also openly liberal.

His post for today was titled ‘Rights and Responsibilities’. His basic point here was that businesses should focus on their responsibilities and their rights would take care of themselves. One example he gave was of restaurants that lobbied against regulations that forced restaurants to post their health department grades and who said this was a violation of their free speech rights. He also cited Pepsi and other soft drink suppliers who are fighting against a tax on soda–his point being that they should welcome the tax because the tax was for the good of all and would affect all competitors in the industry the same.

This is an example where even some of the wisest among us can get it very wrong–and I think that his oversight is common among those who have enjoyed having rights their whole lives, but who have seen other kinds of injustice perpetrated around them and are naive enough to think that every wrong can be fixed with laws and taxes. What Seth doesn’t realize is that rights must be protected with vigor and determination, or they will eventually be taken away and that a given action is often not all right or all wrong. The restauranteur who doesn’t want to show his health report (making him very suspect in any reasonable person’s mind) IS defending liberty when he tries to stop this law–and consumer advocates are fighting for something good when they simply want the restaurants to tell the truth, so individuals can make their own decisions.

Sometimes we actually need the nut jobs because they’ll fight harder than any of us for some important things. In a free society, people, groups, or institutions will always arise that will mistreat or abuse others. Some will have the power and influence to cause great harm against the innocent or other guilty parties. However, in a free society, you can always turn to the government to help redress these issues (when all other means have failed). However, when the government gains too much power and is in the position to set all the rules up front, rather than respond to the cries of the people when wrongs are done, that government will eventually be run by the same type of selfish power-hungry people who abuse the citizenry anyway–in fact, giving this kind of power to the government will ensure that government positions are the most coveted for this type of individual and so they will lie, cheat, abuse, murder, and do all manner of vile things to eventually ensure that they get that power. Then, when the government is filled mostly with this kind of person, who will redress the wrongs committed by them?

This is the one oversight among the liberals that I think is most dangerous. The best, most noble and honorable among them simply feel that the government is the only one that can right these many wrongs that exist in our society (which are many and, in some cases, very heinous). What they don’t realize is that the existence of these things is a price a society like ours pays to avoid evils that are so much greater that these people’s experience just hasn’t prepared them to understand. Our government doesn’t have the power right now to kill its own citizens the way Hitler, Stalin, and Mao did–however, all of these men got their power by promising to create a government that was the people’s government. Each embraced socialist policies and claimed to be putting the good of the society above the good of any individual or group of individuals–they claimed the moral high ground.

So, to all of those who fight for rights, even rights I may not necessarily agree should be protected, I say: Fight On! There is a balance when people have the right to fight for their rights. When they lose this right (either because the government takes it away, or because they willingly give it away in favor of their responsibilities or for any other reason, everyone loses).

Some will think that this blog entry is trying to make the point that individuals and businesses should fight for their rights and avoid their responsibilities (I think that might even be a stereotype held against conservatives to some degree). Please know that I think every individual should take their responsibilities seriously, probably even a little more seriously than their rights, but I’m just not naive enough to think that a society that focusses solely on their responsibilities and doesn’t fight to protect their rights will keep their rights by some magical means. Fight for your rights or lose them–those are the only choices.

What does it mean to be a conservative? March 31, 2010

Posted by rjpeel in Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Republican, Truth.
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As I’ve pondered this question, I’ve come to realize that even among conservatives, this question has many different answers–and unfortunately, there are some nut jobs among the conservatives, just as there are among the liberals.

I don’t have any intention or desire to belabor all of the different ideas present in conservatism, so I just want to quickly describe what it means to me.

As I mentioned in my first post, I believe in limited government. I believe that a government that is too big, that has the power to take care of it’s citizen’s every need (and maybe even some or many wants) also has the power to take these things away. The more power the government has, the more ability they have to threaten and harm the people.

When individuals retain most rights and responsibilities for themselves, then there will inevitably be differences in social and economic situations–differences that can be very large. Individuals or groups may also feel more empowered to commit wrongs against their peers (employers inflicting unsafe or unfair working conditions, for example). However, there is always the opportunity to appeal to the government for redress. But when the government IS the employer, who do you appeal to when they are being unfair or causing harm? Do you really think that the people who rise to positions of power in the government are somehow more immune to selfishness than those who rise to power in business?

I believe in personal accountability. I believe that a person does not have a right to expect a handout. They should do everything in their power to make their own life. Each and every person is handed a very different deck of cards when they come into this world, but it is up to them what they do with that. It is each person’s responsibility to make something of themselves. Too many people in our civilization believe that the government or charities or someone else should give them what they need and want. No one has the right to be rich (or even middle class or even poor). Each should not expect more wealth than the best they can manage given the means available for them to work it out for themselves.

I believe in charity. I believe that charity is the recognition that each and every one of us is dependant on outside forces for the chances and opportunities that are given to us in our lives. I believe that although we each must look to ourselves for our own maintenance, we must always strive to find those in need and help them–sometimes even when they dont’ deserve it. I believe that government has no business getting involved in charity and that redistribution of wealth is thievery when that redistribution is initiated by the one taking the money in order to give it to those less fortunate. Each person must make the choice to give to those less fortunate. And though we will always see some who hold to more wealth than they need while others starve, we must never steal from one to give to another–it is wrong to steal, no matter what is done with it afterward.

A government that can steal from the rich to give to the poor also has the power, and will without fail eventually use it, to take from the poor to give to those in power–ask the Ukrainians about it sometime. Actually, just study some history. Those governments with the most progressive platforms throughout history have abused the poor (and created more poverty) than almost any other.

I believe that a person’s chances at happiness do not rely upon their level of wealth. Each person’s best chance at happiness lies in doing the best with what they have and fostering a continuing hope for the future. The early settlers of the American Frontier had no air conditioning, no cars, no plumbing, no bling, no movie theaters, no iPods, no television, no computers–the list goes on and on. Yet their happiness was just as achievable as ours. Why do we need more? Don’t get me wrong, if you can afford it, by all means, buy it–but don’t feel like you can steal from someone else (even if he’s rich and even if he’s a jerk) to get it.

The poor man only hurts himself by envying what the rich man has–until he tries to take it for himself, then he hurts us all. If you want what he has, then earn it. You might say, but he didn’t earn it, it was given to him, or it was stolen, or whatever. It doesn’t matter, it’s HIS. Man up, woman up (that doesn’t really sound right, does it?). Work hard for what you have and feel the pride and honor that comes with honest acquisition.

I think that these basic principles (limited government, personal accountability, and individual charity) are probably the basic core of what makes me a conservative. In addition to this, like many, but not all conservatives, I believe that these are all virtues that are extolled in the religion I belong to. I believe that God put us here for a reason, and that there is such a thing as right and wrong–independent of what I feel or want. I believe that these principles aren’t just good because I think they’re good, truth and right exist and it’s each of our jobs to find everything true and right and then, once we’ve found it, to defend it.

A Change March 26, 2010

Posted by rjpeel in Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Politics, Republican, Truth.
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The starting of my blog (No Dog in the Race) sometime back started a journey of understanding for me. It caused me to start thinking of things in a different light. I began to question things. Being a conservative, one of my first questions was, Why do Liberals embrace Liberalism?–because my understanding of Liberalism really made it seem strange and actually ridiculous to embrace these philosophies.

However, pondering this question soon led me to another question. Given that I have friends that I respect who are Liberals, people who I believe to be intelligent, well meaning people, I had to accept that this philosophy held some draw and positive meaning for them. I wondered, then, did they see Liberalism differently than I saw it?

This led very quickly to yet another question: Do these people see Conservatism differently than I do? Seeing what the Liberals on TV say about Conservatives, and even the rather ignorant comments of some of my intelligent and well meaning friends, I began to think that this might actually be the case.

I have not yet mustered the courage for a frank discussion with one of these friends on this topic (for the purpose of learning, not preaching), but I think I must at some point. Since the time that I first began to ask myself these questions, though, I have made a decision to look more closely at my own beliefs–and to ask myself what a conservative really is.

After all of this, I have concluded that the philosophy of sociality and government that I espouse is most certainly conservative, but I now realize that the label Conservative can be accurately applied to individuals whose belief systems I would find to be repugnant as well. Also, if one looks further back into history the terms Liberal and Conservative become even more malleable.

However, there are some core principles that most emphatically make me a Conservative and not a Liberal. Among these beliefs are some obvious ones.

I believe in limited government. A study of history should convince any rational human being that there are people out there with power who have an insane dedication to taking power, freedom, and happiness from others. History teaches us that there are those outside and inside our society that want to destroy our freedom and subject us. There are many ways that our free, democratic republic can be replaced with another form of government. There are other countries who would invade and do this if they thought they could. But there are people in our own country that would do the same, people who think we should all live a certain way–whether we like it or not. This second kind of change can come through a revolution like our country has seen once before, or it can come more slowly by slowly building tyranny while disguising it as something else.

There are people on both sides of the aisle that would like to be in control of our country, for their own purposes. If the federal government is too small and impotent, then people of power can step in and abuse the people of this country. Our history has seen such times as these. Also, if our government is too big and is able to control too much of our lives, then one simply needs to find a way to control that government and you control the nation. And I am forced to conclude that a government that is made large because it is given the power to give the American people everything they need, it will also have the power to take away everything we need as well.

Our country’s constitution, properly applied, creates a government that has the power necessary to protect us from power-hungry citizens, but also creates a government that must remain small enough so that it never transforms from being our protector into being our oppressor.

This principle, in and of itself, makes me a conservative. There are others, but I don’t have time to belabor them now.

However, I see way too much of both Conservatives and Liberals drinking their “side’s” Kool-Aid. As Conservatives and Liberals we must agree to put party affiliation aside in the search for truth. If the Liberals have good ideas, we should acknowledge them and adopt them. If the Conservatives have good ideas, we should do the same. There are principles given the appellation Conservative that I, as a Conservative, would denounce. I must, therefore, accept that the denouncing of a principle does not invalidate a philosophy–on either side.

Our loyalty to the truth must always, no exceptions allowed, prevail over our loyalty to any political philosophy, group, or party we belong to. If Conservatives, Liberals, and Independents can embrace this, then no one and nothing will ever take our freedom. If not, then eventually, someone will.