Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thoughts on Government

All of us, to some degree, have been privy to the intense political atmosphere this country now finds itself mired in.  As a conservative in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is nigh unto impossible not to get caught up in all the political debates and discussions occurring all around me.  Since most of what I hear is coming from the left side of the political spectrum, I thought it would be good to express a more conservative viewpoint.  I am not writing this blog post to convince anyone to change their mind.  (We're all so set in our own ways, I know that won't happen anyway.)  I just think it's good to understand where the other side is coming from.

I believe that each public servant we elect is just that: a servant to the public.  We are not here for the government; the government is here for us.  And what is the role of government in our lives?  According to our Constitution, the government is in place to "establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."  It seems simple and straightforward but, considering that most of the political squabbles we encounter today involve the depth of the role of government in our lives, it is not.  Liberals tend to be proponents of large government and government programs.  Conservatives tend to be distrustful of large government and of putting too much power into the hands of a few.  As a history major who has studied governmental authority and how it is wielded, I firmly stand with the conservatives on this point.  As you may recall, the American Revolution took place because American colonists felt that their lives shouldn't be ruled over by a king or a parliament that operated 3000 miles away, across an ocean no less.  Our nation was born from this very principle, that the people should decide their own fate, not government officials who have only their own selfish interests at heart.

So our founding fathers set up a system that gave the people the right to elect their own officials, people who would truly and selflessly represent the people of their region and their needs.  Perhaps the only person in our history who truly lived up to the office of President of the United States is George Washington. After the war was over, the reluctant hero wanted nothing more than to retire from public life, return to his home at Mt. Vernon, and live quietly for the rest of his days. But that dream never became a reality for him. He was the obvious candidate for president and, unfortunately for him, he was chosen unanimously. Putting aside his dreams of a life without repute, he relented and became the first president of the United States of America. He never wanted the glory that was given him. He never wanted to be a hero. But he believed in a cause. He believed in the idea of America. He gave up the life he wanted in order to live the life he knew was needed. He was, perhaps, one of the few selfless public servants this country has ever had the privilege of knowing.  He was not perfect.  He made mistakes.  But he went into office with the right attitude, one without thought of political gain or power. 

Today if anyone were to mention the idea of a selfless and incorruptible politician, all of us would probably throw our heads back and laugh.  Sad?  Yes, but it's reality.  We must remember that we are an imperfect electorate who have to settle for imperfect beings to represent us and to lead our nation.  If you are a huge Obama fan and think the man can do no wrong, get your head out of the clouds and come back down to earth.  On the flipside, if you think Mitt Romney will immediately fix the situation our nation has fallen into, you've got another thing coming.  Both of these men are seriously flawed.  Heck, they are human just like the rest of us.  The trick is to pick the candidate who will strive the hardest to get this country back on its feet again.  As discussed before, your opinion on the role of government in society has a lot to do with who you will vote for.  But it also has a lot to do with what you choose to believe.

I have been involved in several debates on facebook.  I should have exercised better judgment and stayed out of them but...that's just not me.
  • Debate #1:  Big Bird  Mitt Romney said he would cut funding for PBS and liberals everywhere practically started a verbal riot.  "Oh no!  I won't be able to watch Downton Abbey anymore!"  Let's analyze the facts here.  Our nation is 16 TRILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT!  We are spending far more money than we take in and it's only getting worse.  How do we get back some of this money?  By cutting back on wasteful spending.  Now, I love Downton Abbey as much as the next person.  The third season is already up and running in Britain and I am ticked that us Americans have to wait another few months before we can see it.  But the arguments people have against Romney's plan are just plain ridiculous.  One person I was debating this subject with said that it was the government's responsibility to provide us with "the arts" because it improves our quality of life.  Oh, please!  So what you're saying is that a portion of my next door neighbor's taxes should go to PBS just so I can get my Downton Abbey fix every week even though he doesn't watch it himself?  And what is your definition of "quality of life?"  This is the difference between the liberal view of government and the conservative view of government that I was talking about earlier.  The liberal view is that the government should pay for these programs (with our hard-earned tax money) to improve our quality of life.  My view is that I should be able to keep the money that would otherwise be taxed so that I can watch whatever I want to.  The government's role is not to spoon-feed us these things but to provide an environment in which we can obtain what we want ourselves.  That, in my opinion, is true freedom.
  • Debate #2:  Obama cares about everybody and Mitt Romney only cares about rich people.  People have this messed up notion that Obama is this caring loving politician simply because he says he is.  He says he wants everyone to have cheap access to great healthcare, for example.  You know, I'd really like that too.  It would be nice not to have to pay an arm and a leg (literally) everytime I step into a doctor's office.  But Obama's ideas are just not plausible.  If you look at other countries that have socialized medicine or partially socialized medicine, their taxes are extremely high.  Doctors still have to be paid.  Medical equipment and medicine still have to be bought.  You'll either be paying high premiums to an insurance company of your own choosing or you'll be paying high taxes for a government-run (and therefore, innefficient) health care system.  So when Romney shoots down one of Obama's great sounding ideas, it's not because he's cold-hearted or favoring the rich over the poor.  He's just being reasonable.
There are several other topics I have debated with people but I'll get off my soapbox now.  As you have rightly assumed, I am voting for Mitt Romney, not because he is the perfect man for the job but because I think he is the right one for the time.  Whoever you decide to vote for, just make sure you put aside partisan politics and truly analyze the facts.  So read and watch.  Make informed decisions. Vote.  If you choose not to get involved in politics, don't complain when you wake up one day and find that all of your liberties have been thrown out the window.

Okay.  I'm done.  (I could say more but I think half of the people reading this want me to shut up now so I'll oblige them just this once.)

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