For this first post, my intent is to disclose my own preconceived notions about politics. It is almost 2012. I saw my first 2012 campaign bumper sticker today and decided I would begin with this because it seems I am not alone in my struggle to identify with any particular political party. Some would say my preconceived notions below would support calling myself a Democrat. It is certainly true that my parents raised me in a Democratic household and my initial voting experience was in a Democratic primary. But I went to college with an overwhelming majority of Republicans who influenced me to certain GOP-oriented views and I work for the defense sector, so my loyalties are as yet undecided. So before I investigate further, I am documenting what I understand now and as I learn more over time, I intend to articulate how my views change, if indeed they do.
- Politicians, while tasked with making legislation that benefits the constituents to whom they are responsible while balancing the federal budget, often make decisions that will keep them in power with the justification that if they are not kept in power, they will not be able to make the sweeping changes that they promise during campaigns.
- The basic differences between the parties in power, especially Republicans and Democrats, can be summarized in three key areas:
- The Republican party is primarily composed of upper class, often Caucasian, citizens with strong ties to for-profit corporations, particularly in the defense and financial sectors. As such, they tend to protect corporate interests over humanitarian interests, support legislation that serves the upper class and criticize policies that lean toward protecting citizens with limited resources.
- The Democratic party is composed primarily of middle and lower class citizens. There is often a social requirement to support initiatives such as welfare programs, increased benefits for workers through collective bargaining or unions, regulation of industries that tend to take advantage of lower income citizens through unfair practices, and a general tendency toward policies that are considered “left of center.”
- There are no other major parties for people to choose from. Any person without a strong sense of identification with either party is forced to choose between not participating in primary elections or participating in one or the other party’s primary to the exclusion of the other. Recently the Independent party became a non-option and other parties that do exist cannot gain significant traction in a climate that overwhelmingly favors a two-party system.
- Young Americans are frustrated by the political system and are often broadly criticized for their non-participation as a result. Perhaps there are opportunities for citizens to gain understanding of either political party through “Young Democrats” or “Young Republican” societies, but to begin participating again there is a requirement that you have a basic understanding of what either party stands for before you are likely to be interested in such an organization. Political science is generally not a required subject in public school systems and many people choose not to study it in college either.
- What can we do about this? It seems that these notions are likely due to propaganda in the media. Perhaps it is time we get to the bottom of the fundamental ideological differences in the two parties. Perhaps we get to the bottom of the practical implications of that ideology in creating legislation and maintaining federal control over various aspects of our society. I can see no obvious harm in doing some research in these areas and displaying the results here, particularly if the sources are cited and opinion is kept to a minimum or discussed separately.