Partisanship has its advantages. Committed Dems and Repubs don't feel conflicted. They may not march in lockstep with their respective parties, but by and large they share in their respective worldviews. Even if you have friends or relatives across the aisle, you can still retreat to the solace of your own side and know that 50% of the country (give or take) is with you.
Kermit had it wrong - being green is easy. It's purple that's a bitch.
Though I am a registered independent, I am culturally a Democrat. I voted for Carter and Clinton, Mondale and even Mike Dukakis (yes, that Mike Dukakis, the one in the tank). I voted for Paul Wellstone (and still proudly stand by those votes). I'm all for gay marriage, I'm pro-choice, I think we need some form of national health insurance, and don't object to taxing people at the upper end of the income spectrum a few percentage points higher to subsidize public services like roads and parks and good schools and mass transit. I think racism, sexism and homophobia remain real problems. I think artists, writers and musciains should be free to express themselves without fear of censorship or intimidation. I don't want to see the environment despoiled for the sake of a few extra short term bucks. I fear the erosion of the wall of separation between church and state. I want to live in a country ruled by imperfect human laws, rather than those of God, which by definition cannot be challenged or even questioned. I hold deep suspicion of those with authoritarian impulses.
In short, I'm your basic liberal (excuse me, sorry, I mean progressive).
I think free markets create prosperity and excessive government regulation stifles innovation. I don't have a problem with wealth, especially as a reward for risk-taking and innovation. I fear government bureaucracies that want to regulate my life "for my own good". I never thought Castro, Che or Arafat were cool. I think the theocrats in Iran are far scarier than the ones here, and don't want them getting their hands on nukes. I think the UN is a corrupt cesspool that caters to the worst dictators on the planet, and is largely impotent when it comes to stopping bloodshed or saving people from genocide. I unapologetically support the right of Israel to defend itself from those who would recreate the holocaust if they had the means, even as they deny it ever happened. I watch in dismay as Europe complacently accepts and even embraces Islamism, even as it acquiesced to Communism and fascism in earlier generations. I view the War on Terror, including Iraq, as not another Viet Nam, but as a struggle like World War II, against a virulent and hateful totalitarian ideology that we must confront and defeat. I also believe that democracy and rule of law, in one form or another, should be the destiny of every society on the globe, and the alternative -- life under a global taliban-style regime -- would be intolerable.
So I suppose that makes me a conservative. Actually, it makes me a neocon.
I recently came across a brilliant essay by author Orson Scott Card that sums up my dilemma. It begins:
There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.
And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.
If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.
Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.
But at least there will be a chance.
I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.
But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.
To all intents and purposes, when the Democratic Party jettisoned Joseph Lieberman over the issue of his support of this war, they kicked me out as well. The party of Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- the party I joined back in the 1970s -- is dead. Of suicide.
Tomorrow, there is a very good possibility that the moribund Democratic party will gain control over the House and possibly the Senate. Should that come to pass, its leaders will use their newly-gained power, not to defeat the forces of totalitarianism but to relentlessly undermine the effort to defeat those forces. Of course, they won't believe they are doing that at all -- they will see themselves as wresting control of the country from a power-drunk cabal of corrupt self-serving crooks who have misled us into a needless war from which we must now extricate ourselves. They will seek to reign in the power of the "American Empire" and as they succeed in that effort, the vanguard of a far more ruthless and unapologetic empire will advance, filling the vacuum.
In bringing about the change in direction demanded by their base, they will move to "redeploy" military assets, seek to appease and accommodate tyrants, place their faith in the UN and the "international community". They will watch from the sidelines as Iraq is divided up between al-Qaeda and Iran, as Iran goes nuclear, and as Israel is threatened with annihilation for having the temerity to even think it has the right to exist as a Jewish state in the midst of the Islamic world.
The Democratic left will quietly and without a fuss abandon their commitment to feminism and gay rights in the name of multiculturalism that holds that stoning women and executing homosexuals are just cultural differences we need to accept as global citizens. They will fall silent on the topic of religion in public life, when that religion is Islam. Rather than protesting the encroachment of sharia law, they will insist that we must accommodate the beliefs and practices of religious muslims, practicing self-censorship so as not to provoke violence over perceived insults to religious sensibilities. They will turn away as Europe descends into another dark ages.
Because of the stakes in this midterm, I am forced to consider my vote carefully. I have ended up favoring Democrats at the local and state level, while rooting for the Repubs to stay in control of Congress. Based on my reading of the polls, and my understanding of the GOP's get-out-the-vote strategy, I expect that the Senate will stay in Republican hands, but the Dems will wil control of the House (Speaker Pelosi, anyone?). Ironically, this may end up being the best outcome, as Democrats will once again have some semblance of national power and some ability to propose policies, but they will likely not have the numbers to override a presidential veto, or even to push through legislation without some compromise. This will force them to either govern responsibly or it will show them up to be incapable of doing so.
If the Dems have any hope of regaining their lost majority status, they will have to do better than the feckless and muddled candidate they put up in 2004, and their nebulous non-platform of 2006. They will need to stand for something. Anything. Ideally, I would like the Democratic left to stand for the spread of liberalism in a world that is increasingly moving in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, that requires conviction, a clear sense of right and wrong, and a willingness to fight a protracted war against a determined and ruthless enemy. So I guess those of us who really want to see liberalsim prevail are stuck with the GOP for the foreseeable future.