Monday, October 18, 2010

wag more, bark less, part three - progressives

Okay, now for the other side. I see my views as having morphed over the last decade or so. I was never a hard-right conservative, just grew up with Republican voting parents. Politics was very attractive to me, thus I was a history/political science major in college, but people always took precedence over political debate and policy matters. I was raised to treat people right, no matter who they were , what they looked like, or where they were from. That was a matter determined by family and faith.

I remained fairly conservative throughout college and beyond, but bit by bit I began to change. I began to challenge the status quo assumptions that I had about government and how it relates to various groups in society. My circle of friends and associates grew more diverse - I was exposed to people from a greater variety of backgrounds and experiences - and I began to rethink issues in light of that. I realized the importance of our social responsibility to care for , as the Bible states, "the least of these". It was taking the mantra that I had learned as a child in interpersonal relationships and extending it to society at large and advocating for its application to the context of "We the People", in other words, government, which is all of us collectively.

So, here are the progressive/liberal answers as I see them, to the questions I have listed.
1. Worldview. See the world in terms of haves vs have-nots, or better yet, the fortunate and the less (or un-)fortunate. There is a sliding scale of need, and each one higher in fortune has a duty to help those less fortunate no matter where they are on the scale. As the Bible states we are "blessed to be a blessing"

2. Theology - Seeing the God of grace and forgiveness. The message of the Cross is all about grace. Law is not unimportant, but we must always remember that we are all human and flawed and that should temper our justice. This is a view that says you do good things because you are forgiven, not to be forgiven. There are a limited amount of things God has specified - some to do , some to avoid, but the majority of life is to be lived by principles, freely. God wants us to live freely, use our minds and hearts, and not be beggars fearing a lash if we step out of line. If we live this way we will treat others better, even when someone has made terrible choices -because , as the old saying goes "there, but for the grace of God , go I" .

3.Role of government . We are the government, not separate from it. Government is us acting as a whole to bring solutions to society. As the Preamble to the Constitution states, we the people established the Constitution to among other things , promote the general welfare, the common good.

4. Interpreting the Constitution: It is a living document , set up to be adaptable to changing times. Why do you think they included an amendment process, if it was to be set in stone? One of the key passages is the "necessary and proper" clause at the end of the list of Congressional powers. It was meant to be flexible.

5. Things government should be involved in. That is for we the people to decide. The size of government is not the key issue, effectiveness is. There are things which are better handled at a state or local level, and things that are better addressed nationally, so that there is a universal standard. We saw that dangers of states going their own way during the Civil Rights battles - individual liberties were protected only when we acted nationally.

6. The Branches of government: The courts should stick up the individual, to protect all rights (not just guns), and not just defer to established authority. The courts should act as a restraint against legislative or executive branch over-reach. Justice is about clearing the innocent, just as much as punishing the guilty. And criminal justice is about restraint , restitution, and rehabilitation, not just punishment. We have a system of checks and balances between our three branches of government and the Supreme Court (and lower federal courts) is not inferior -even though it is insulated (for good reason) from the popular will. Justice and civil liberties should never be up for a vote.

7 and 8 The relationship between the government and the people is a social compact. We agree together to work for the betterment of all. As Lincoln put it we have a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people"

As you can see there are real differences here. Maybe if we know more where we are coming from we can begin to see areas where we agree or we can compromise. We are one people, not split into opposing camps. Leave that to the shouters. Let us really debate and grow.

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