I'm not easy to box in politically

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 9:50 PM | comments: 0

Like a lot of people (everyone?), I've certainly been frustrated by this election cycle. At first it was just the overall quality of the field, but lately it's more about the implication of some false equivalency of badness between the candidates. (Hint: One is a fascist and racist, which I consider infinitely worse than someone who sucks at information technology.) Regardless, I'm surprised at how I can't easily fit myself into a left or right box, and equally surprised that more people don't get like this with age. It seems like the logical conclusion that comes with life experience and data is to become more and more centrist, and yet that never seems to happen.

Regardless of this, I'm fully accepting that government is something I ultimately have to share with everyone else, so I'm not selfish or self-absorbed enough to think that any candidate should be exactly what I want or else. The loudest people in the electorate seem not to get this.

This can feel a little lonely at times. When you try to argue with people on the Internets, for example, you find yourself arguing against some idea or principle, but not because you believe the exact opposite. People aren't prepared for this, because they treat politics like a sports rivalry.

For example, I'm endlessly frustrated with people complaining about executive salaries. They make emotional arguments that those salaries would materially affect the cost of whatever they sell (they don't). There's a feeling that no one should make millions when they're responsible for billions of dollars in business. Some feel it's immoral to be highly paid for achieving something. Sure, schmucks and failures don't deserve to be well paid, but that doesn't mean every person with "chief" in their title is evil, incompetent or doesn't deserve what they make. On a related note, I'm tired of hearing about student loans, in part because I paid mine off, with interest rates three to four times higher than "kids today," and also because incurring debt is a choice that one makes, to assume that risk. These are very right-leaning sentiments.

I go the other way, too. I fail to see how single-payer systems, public options and the like would be terrible for healthcare. Heck, the UK is outright proud of their system. The fact that we pay more per capita for healthcare than any other country, by an enormous margin, and fall somewhere around 30 in life expectancy, sure seems like we're doing it wrong. I'm also all for immigration, because I've worked with amazing immigrants, and they've also founded some of my favorite companies, like Google and Tesla. More importantly, it's the basis for most of our nation's development, especially during the industrial revolution and following the world wars. These tend to be very left-leaning sentiments.

If those things aren't seemingly conflicting in ideology, I have even less use for the two major parties. Both have a long history of getting us into armed conflicts abroad that piss people off and inevitably lead to power vacuums that empower bad people (from the recent Iraq War to the arming of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 80's). The Republicans think trickle-down is a thing, and want to cut taxes but spend more on the military. The Democrats want to spend on entitlements and public works, though if I'm being honest, I suppose there are worse things to spend on, and Bill was the only president in my lifetime to have a balanced budget. I do lean more left in terms of the parties, but not because of any real policy issues as much as the GOP has somehow bred this nutty right-wing faction that makes it OK to hate on minorities. "Conservative" has been co-opted by hateful people, which is unfortunate.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about what I think the ideal candidate looks like, and I think it's about the same.


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