Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Clear Choice?

I've been reading the flurry of postings on social media following Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate and as always I have questions.  First, I'll list some observations that amuse or interest me.  The GOP in the past several decades has benefitted from the support of the so called "Christian Right" or the "Evangelical Vote".  Leaving aside the fact that labels like that are often faulty because the group they purport to describe is often more complex and less monolithic than the names imply, it's fair to say that those who consider themselves "Fundamentalist Christians" have overwhelmingly supported the GOP.  It's also fair to say that this group has had the opinion that any candidate they support must also share their religious belief, ie: also be a Christian that fits their fundamentalist definition, born again.  This year the GOP appears set to field two candidates, neither of whom could fit that definition of Christian.  In fact, presumptive VP Paul Ryan has professed his debt to writer/philosopher Ayn Rand time and time again.  In case anyone has forgotten this is the same writer who considered selfishness a virtue and said "Faith is the worst curse of mankind" The same person who railed against religion in general and Christianity in particular for her whole life.  I actually find it rather refreshing that those on the far right wing of religious thought are not being so dogmatic in their position that every candidate must believe exactly as they do.  Another observation is a purely technical one, the GOP convention hasn't happened yet has it? The Romney/Ryan ticket is not the really real official ticket yet, right? I just wanted to check to make sure I haven't missed anything.  Just in case it really is the really real official ticket for the party, would it be rude to ask why they'll be having the convention?
What really interests me more are the questions that come up when I read posts like this one from a friend "the race comes down to government's role in our lives: Should we be more dependent on government, its diktats and its endless "interventions" or less dependent on government and free to choose how we live, what we give and -- increasingly of late -- what we BELIEVE."
In what ways are we dependent on government?  In what ways would you like to not be dependent on government?  What sort of "interventions" are you experiencing right now? In what ways are you not free to choose how to live?  In what ways are you not able to believe what you want to believe?
I haven't yet spoken to this person yet so I can't say exactly what's behind the somewhat vague statements but I can still think of some more questions.  Let's look at how we are dependent on government, I can think of a few ways off the top of my head - clean air and water, roads that we can drive on, police to help keep those roads safe as well providing for general safety in our towns and cities, schools, parks, postal service,  and so forth.  My first question would be "Are any of these dependencies a problem?" If so, why?  As far as "Interventions" I admit to not really having an idea of what those might be, other than the government's interventions when people are breaking the law.  For the record I completely support the police pulling people over when they're cruising down the street I live on at twenty miles over the speed limit.  Looking at the idea of freedom in terms of how we choose to live, again, it's hard to say what the writer had in mind so I'll have to ask, "What would you like to do now that you're not allowed to do?"  If the point refers to equal rights for all, especially in terms of the right to marry, I'm right there, yes, equal rights are only equal when everyone has them.  But then, that's not really a choice, as in "How we choose to live", LGBT people are who they are, it's not a choice that issue falls under civil rights, so perhaps I don't understand the original complaint.  What sorts of choices are we denied, assuming it's not something that adversely effects the environment or public safety? It's the same with "increasingly of late-- what we BELIEVE" I don't get it, how are your beliefs being thwarted?  Now, if we're talking about equal marriage rights as has been the hot topic (at least in terms of where to eat lunch) recently I might have some ideas.  What I see happening in that realm is something that is probably very uncomfortable for many people.  By all accounts, the public opinion tide is turning and the belief that LGBT people deserve fewer rights by virtue of who they are, is falling out of favor.  I would imagine that in the 1950s and 60s there were a lot of people living in the south who felt themselves under attack because pubic opinion was shifting and the idea that black people deserved fewer rights because of who they are was falling out of favor.  If you've been taught something your whole life by people you love and admire and it's been engrained into your world view, feeling like that belief was being challenged could be scary.  It is, however, what happens anytime you learn something new.  Your mind has to process new information, sometimes it adds to prior knowledge, sometimes it replaces what you knew or believed before.  You can call it an attack on what you believe or you can call it learning.  Words are important, words are powerful.

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