Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What Republicans Believe

I wouldn't dare speak for conservatives so I'll refer to an article written by Jennifer Rubin in her column in the Washington Post - Right Turn.  The piece is Ten Things Republicans Believe.  I found it a very interesting read and agreed with much of it... even though the implimentation of some of the ideas would likely be very different.  For example, she says that Republicans are Pro-Israel.  I would argue that being Pro-Israel is not the same as supporting Israeli abuse of Palestinians.  Even less so, is support of Israel the same as supporting the expansion of settlements in occupied land.  Indeed, I would argue that is precisely the worst thing possible that can happen to Israel as each settlement makes a 2 state solution more difficult and a 1 state solution means either apartheid or a nation wherein the Jewish population are overwhelmed by the Palestinians.

Two differences really jumped out for me.

The first is not as explicit as it could be.  Rubin says that there is a distrust of centralized power when she really means to say that Republicans do not trust government.  The implication is that they do trust centralized industrial and economic power.  Limited regulations inevitably lead to the centralization of those two types of power and the unwritten theme is that that is just the natural course of things.  In effect, she says they do not trust government, but they do trust multinationals and big banks.  They trust institutions that have as their primary purpose in existence, a profit motive for a limited number of people and which have no basic commitment to the welfare of this nation vs. institutions that have the public good of US citizens as their primary motivation.  Frankly, that bit just makes no sense to me at all.  I understand about the failings of human nature and that they play themselves out in government agencies.  Yes, government bureaucracies screw up sometimes.  The same is true in the business world... only in businesses, without government regulations, there is no recourse and the power is unchecked. 

A second important difference is what she refers to as an "originalist theory of interpretation of the constitution."  She says that those with a different theory of interpretation "grant judges free rein to think up new rights and powers."  Again... this makes no sense to me.  One must understand the Constitution as having been written in an historical and cultural context that is not the same as the one in which we live today.  She mentions the 2nd amendment in another place.  Let's agree for argument sake that it gives the right to bear arms to all citizens (which I would not agree with under normal circumstances).  If we think of the context when "arms" = muskets, do we take it to mean today that individuals can own muskets?  That was the literal original intent if we agree to the first premise.  Or do we take it to mean than individual citizens can carry any arms that the US Army uses (which at the time was pretty much a musket)?  If the latter, then should individuals be allowed to own nuclear warheads?  If not, why not?  How do we translate that into today's world?  Or do we take the sentence literally and agree that it referred to State Militias, used primarily in the south as a means of suppressing slave revolts and was included as a way of reassuring Southern states that the federal government would not take away their slave based economies and so has literally zero meaning in 2013?

The piece of the article that was encouraging to me was that there are some places where we agree even if implementations differ.  At least then, there is room to talk.  Here's to hoping that we all can do just that.

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