My mother was what some would call a bleeding heart liberal when I was growing up. And why wouldn't she have been? She was a young (very young) single mother of two trying to live and work in an expensive suburb of Southern California because that's where most of our extended family lived. Were we poor? Probably not, but we certainly brought down the annual household income for the area.
Over the years, and as our incomes have increased substantially, both my mother and I have found conservative ideas creeping into our political beliefs. I had no idea this was happening to her. I kept my status as a registered Republican a secret from my family for fear of starting a long, drawn out discussion in which my age would be the eventual determination of my ability to reason.
Then we started talking about the recall of don't-let-the-door-hit-you-in-the-ass-on-your-way-out Governor Gray Davis. We were both in favor of the recall but unsure of who to vote for to replace Davis.
The best thing that came out of the recall for me was a solidification of my views on certain topics and a reordering of my political priorities. I would likely say I am a Moderate Republican, if forced to classify myself.
That is how Schwarzenegger described himself, but that is not why I voted for him. I voted for him out of pure strategy. I did not want Bustamante to win. I liked Tom McClintock for Governor although he is much more conservative than I will ever be. I thought he had the experience and the vision to overhaul what I saw as the problem areas (fiscal) in the state. The issues on which I disagreed with him (social) were not likely to arise during the remaining three years of this gubernatorial tenure and were not of utmost importance to me.
That is what makes me leery of calling myself a Republican. When it comes to some social issues, I have liberal views. Pro-choice: of course. Gay marriage: fine by me. Equal rights for any American who wants them: doesn't hurt me any. Environment: we should probably preserve that. Death penalty: well, this is where it starts to get tricky. I am in favor of the death penalty and I think that more crimes should have a capital penalty. Child molesters, rapists, torturers; why should these people not pay the same price as murderers? To me, their crimes are much more reprehensible.
Illegal immigrants: that is a huge topic about which most of my views stem from how I feel about being a law-abiding citizen. For the longest time, I wanted to work for either the CIA or the FBI. To that end, I made sure that I never broke any law or engaged in any behavior that would jeopardize my chances. I feel strongly that people should abide by the law and if a law needs changing, work within the system to change it. To that point, I think that anyone who breaks the law should be punished accordingly. Illegal immigrants are breaking the law by being in this country and they are bypassing the legal methods that thousands of immigrants are using to legally reside in the U.S. Because of this fundamental belief, I do not support any legislation that affords rights and services to illegal immigrants. I do, however, feel strongly that our immigration policies need to be revisited and reformed to allow more people to enter the U.S. legally, to make the process less onerous, and to close security loopholes.
These views put me well on my way to being a card-carrying fan of Rush Limbaugh (I shudder to think). The only major issues left to consider reside in the fiscal arena and this is where my Republican really starts to show. I will admit that some of this is selfish. I want to keep as much of my paycheck as I can, even if it is at the cost of social programs for the homeless, the jobless and the uninsured.
It is unfathomable to me that state government should be so opaque. It makes more sense that government should be run using a corporate model. If a corporation ran a deficit the size of the one the State of California has, it would be on its way out of business and people would be fired. The board of directors would bring in a clean-up team and perform audits. The audits would reveal redundancies in offices and programs, hemorrhaging of assets, and just plain criminal behavior. This seems like common sense to me but, it turns out, this is called "fiscal conservatism" and was denounced, decried, and denied during the recall campaign, primarily by the Democrats.
I have no stunning conclusion here. I am conflicted by my own beliefs. They are, in fact, relatively new to me. Up until a year ago (right after Davis was elected Governor), I was apathetic and uninformed about most things political. I clung to the lofty ideals of my adolescence and did not give much thought to how they translated into reality. I am becoming more involved in these messy, political issues and will likely have shifting views as I sort out previously unexamined minutiae. In the meantime, I like to talk to people who disagree with me to find out how they came by their beliefs, but I do not like to debate the merits of one view over another. I am not at all interested in converting others to my way of thinking or in proving that my point is right and someone else's is wrong. At least not about politics.
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