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The Reason Party

2004-05-20

Category: politics

[Note from LibertyBob: Sorry about the length of this post. I really felt it was necessary to say everything and thus the length. If you would like to gripe, please do so in the comments. If you would like to gripe a lot with plenty of vulgarity, please do so in someone else's comments.]

Politics is always a good subject to get people riled. Political parties can really get the juices going, so that's what I'm going to write about here. The problems with the current major parties are pretty obvious to all but the most avid members. The two main parties sometimes seem almost identical to centrists and sometimes seem like their own petty competition is far more important than the country. You have to wonder if it's time for a new movement, a new party.

The Democrats have been around a while. They have some pretty good points; most notably, they're socially liberal. That means that they think, for the most part, that people should be free to be themselves. Likewise, people shouldn't be held back because of some arbitrary feature. This has shown most strongly in the fight for racial equality, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and more recently the fight for gay rights.

However, the Democrats also have their down side (from my point of view, of course). The extreme liberals often push for things that are inherently illogical or misguided. Often, they attack social structures because they don't know the service that is performed by those structures. Sure, there may be something wrong with an aspect of the structure, but total destruction can cause a lot of harm. Also, many liberals want to base decisions on emotion rather than reason and that's just infantile.

The Republicans also have good and bad points. The main good point is fiscal conservatism. There is a science to handling money. Since money is a representation of all our other stuff and is used to move all our other stuff, having an understanding of money is very important.

However, those same Republicans bring with them social conservatism. That can be bad. That type of attitude makes way for the oppression of others. Then there's the Religious Right. Though many Christian Americans may agree with the religious teachings of the Religious Right, few sensible Americans would want to see those beliefs enforced the way the extreme nutters would.

The third largest party in the country, at this time, is the Libertarian Party. In my younger, wilder days, this was my party. Their "every-man-for-himself" attitude was just the thing for me. Then I grew up.

Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of good things about the Libertarians. They have much of the social liberalism of the Democrats mixed with the fiscal conservatism of the Republicans. They are big proponents of personal responsibility and states' rights. The Constitution is their flag.

Like any such party, they'll have their extreme side too. They tend to over simplify the gain the average person gets from being a part of a community. This leads to an idea that if something does not directly benefit an individual that person should not contribute tax moneys. A big case with this is that public schools should be abolished. They think the state should not tax people to pay to educate other people's kids. They don't think about the extra hassle of living in an uneducated culture.

Many of them oppose taxation all together. They call it theft. They don't see it as a user fee for living in a community. Sure, they are more than welcome to leave society, but most won't want to.

To finish off a serious problem with the Libertarians, they have antiquated ideas about national defense. Most of them will tell you that if there is going to be a national military, it should be kept within the borders of the country and be used to repel invaders only.

This nineteenth century way of looking at things completely discounts the complexity of world affairs, and assumes that enemies nee to march across the border en masse. Since the world is more complex than that, we really do have to have a proactive defense strategy. We also need to be involved in the world, maybe not as much as some presidents may like, but definitely involved.

So, what can you do?

Well, in the past when no existing party was sufficient, some people would get together and form a new party. That's how the parties listed above got started. Each was a new, small, third party created to address the deficiencies of the existing parties. Not all new parties last, the Reform Party for example. But the Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians have lasted for quite a while.

What would you want in a new party?

I can only tell you what I would want and why I think it's a good idea. You'll have to make up your own list of criteria. First, I would probably try to keep the social views of the Democrats, general equality and all that. I would then want the economic pragmatism of the Republicans. There would be a push to have problems solved at the lowest effective level of government (an idea borrowed from the Libertarians). That last idea would support states' rights.

We would still have public schools and welfare programs. These programs would be handled as capital investments. What's that, you ask? A capital investment is when you spend money on something that will improve your ability to make money. For example, if you paint houses for a living, buying a paint sprayer is a capital investment. Public schools are a capital investment for a state or nation because it makes the citizens more productive which increases the productivity of the populous.

But how is welfare a capital investment? That's simple. Any welfare program must be designed to help people become productive. The benefits must be graduated so that people can ease themselves back to work. There will be some people who are never able to be productive, the extremely disabled, for example, but a productive nation can afford to provide for them. As for persons who are not strongly disabled, there's nothing wrong with welfare programs that require a person to come in at least once a week and do a little cleaning or similar work.

What about international relations? What about war?

Well, war is just one of those things that happens sometimes. As a member of my ideal party, I would say negotiation is a definite first step. Things like pressure from the international community and embargoes are good tools also. However, the use of force is still acceptable when all other courses have been traveled. But there's a difference in how I would want military strength used.

First, very specific military objectives would need to be set. Those objectives may or may not be made public depending on the security risk. The military would have their Experts decide on a plan that meets the objectives and stays within our clearly defined moral constraints. The Experts would show the plan to the president and relevant advisors. The president and company could ask questions and make suggestions, but the Experts would have the final say. Why? Because they are Experts.

Then, the military would execute the plan. They would go and do what was needed to accomplish the goal. The Experts could change the plan as needed to deal with the unforeseen, but they could not change the goal. Only the president could do that.

Once the goal was met, the military would return.

My party would also have a clear energy policy. If we get our fuel from a foreign power and they decide to raise the price, we're screwed. Can't really go to war over that sort of thing. We may be able to haggle, possibly over the price of food or something. Other than that, we'll have to learn to adapt. Our product transportation system (trucks and trains) would still need fuel. Our agricultural industry still needs fuel for tractors. How many of us really need to drive the couple of blocks to buy a burger? I know it's more complex than that, but we need to look at backing down on our luxuries.

That would be one of my party tenets. Divide things into Necessities, Improvements, and Luxuries. To give examples, fixing a heavily traveled bridge that is about to collapse is a necessity. It has to be done for the general good and safety of the people. Just widening the bridge and surrounding road is an improvement. It may reduce congestion and help traffic flow quicker, but people could get by without it. Adding statues or flags to the bridge to make it look nicer, that's a luxury. If we make a habit of formally categorizing things this way, we can hopefully get into the habit of making better choices.

Finally, my party would really push formal logic. I know, that seems a bit extreme. Think about it, how many times have you seen a candidate say something and it just didn't quite sound right. If you have the skills to analyze the statement, you could probably pinpoint the problem. With a strong enough movement, especially after publicly humiliating a couple of politicians, it may encourage the wide spread acceptance of logic as something everyone can do. Seems like a little bit of social engineering, but tough. This is my idea of what a perfect party would be.

I've occasionally made jokes about the fictional Reason Party. When I do this, the idea behind the Reason Party is all the stuff I've laid out here. I'm curious about other people's opinions. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section. This could be an interesting topic. If there is enough interest, I can create a separate section of this website just to handle the discussion. That's one of the benefits of not using a blog service.

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