Thursday, January 22, 2004

Political navel gazing

Dear Kari:

In our blog space, we have generally resisted omphaloskepsis (contemplation of one's navel) as a basis for a blog post. I have wanted to use that word in our blog and my resistance was down as I write. Sorry, Kari.

Anyway, for this blog entry, I wanted to share about the formation of my political views and would be curious to see how similar or different it was from yours and our readership.

As an ethnic minority, I face competing forces. Ethnic minorities often join up with the Democrats because they claim to be the party of the downtrodden and the little guy. But on the other hand, not being that far removed from the immigrant experience (I was born in the USA; my ancestors weren't) there was lots of the "do it yourself and take care of yourself and your family" mentality in my upbringing which is more common among the conservative and libertarian political thinkers.

My parent's were largely apolitical when I was growing up and politics wasn't routine dinner time conversation. Most of my school teachers kept their political views to themselves though the ones who did express any views at all were Democrats but didn't ardently advocate their views.

I suspect the thing that shaped my views the most was the Cold War. The USSR was a nation where the state controlled everything. And so I associated the idea of power concentrating as a bad thing leading to my journey towards the more libertarian way of thinking.

The other factor that influenced me was the tendency of some people to view the world in strictly economic terms: crime is due to poverty and that all problems in the world are due to conflicts between the have's and have not's. This view of the world has some limited merit but it undersells the power of ideas and values. And so this recognition led me to the conservative political perspective.

The previous two paragraphs come from my own observations but also from Dennis Prager who has influenced my political thinking the most. He is an author, speaker and radio talk show host based in LA. He is Jewish and was a long time Democrat. However, he felt that modern liberalism has moved away from the classic Democrats of the past. So eventually, he re-registered Republican.

I can't say I'm fully at home in either the libertarian or the conservative camp though that is what I would self-identify myself as. I guess I'm even less at home in the liberal camp. Libertarians are often foreign policy isolationists which I think is an irresponsible position. Conservatives are too beholden to business interests as the liberals are too beholden to labor and trial lawyer interests. Though I'm skeptical about business, I tend to think the market will correct things more effectively than excessive regulation and I don't go as far as the liberals to demonize businesses. Liberals seem to think that if you throw enough money at a problem it will be solved. I appreciate their emphasis on compassion but these problems might be better addressed by community-based entities rather than big federal programs.

So what am I? Politically confused? Politically incorrect? Or perhaps a typical American?



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