Where Are My Americans?

Politics have always been interesting to me, but I have always considered myself a staunch independent, voting, but not necessarily engaging or even inclining interesting the day-to-day of the political rigor.  Serving in Kenya has really opened my eyes up to both the good and bad of politics.  Whereas living in the US there is always a nice comfortable barrier between the law and the citizen, where new laws tend to have only a minor impact for the majority of citizens, affecting (or disaffecting) those citizens laying at the extremes the most, in Kenya law causes a much greater daily impact, for many reasons.

The US has been fortunate to have a history of relatively competent, and generally good-natured politicians over is 200+ years as a free nation.  This is something I increasingly appreciate as my daily compare and contrast sessions, supported by internet-fueled historical research, help me formulate my opinion on politics.  Yet at the same time, like many (US)Americans, I find myself continuously upset by the current political landscape.  I understand the (effective) two party system, I understand how its existence actually helps America manage one of the largest and most populous nations on the planet.  But something is still missing

Which is also why I like the existence of these meta-parties such as the Tea Party.  It’s not party so much as a filter.  Analogizing on their name, the Tea Party is what you get when you put all the candidates into a tea bag and dump it in water.  The Tea Party is the resulting tea.  Taking the same materials as the Republicans (and Democrats), but crafting something new and more useful that represents their members better.  Something palatable, instead of just eating ground up tea leaves.

Though I personally don’t agree with the Tea Party’s platform (as I understand it), I am asking this: where is my meta-party?  Where are the people who support ACLU-style freedom of speech, but not the full right to bear arms (if you want to bear arms join your state or national guard; that was the intention of the Constitution in my opinion)?  Where are people who want to push forward government-enforced social equality and protection of minority groups, but not give special interest to infrastructure projects that will only positively impact a small region of the country?

Where are the people who want to withdraw our military from engagement around the world?  For over fifty years, American forces have been deployed around the world, sometimes even at the request of host nations.  Mutual defense treaties have been signed, but in reality they are one-sided mutualities.  Our economy can no longer support defending not only itself, but also dozens of other nations who have been able to shift their own economic focus away from defense and towards other programs because they have always had America there to defend them.  Shrinking the land we must defend will inherently lower the cost of our military while still allowing us to maintain a defense for necessary to protect our own interests.

Where are the people who want more introspection into our international aid programs?  In this area, first-hand experience motivates me to desire change. For a long time, the notion of international aid went hand in hand with international friendship.  But the USA has become that friend who knows you are doing drugs and destroying your life and disagrees completely, but continues to pay for your habit when you ask for just five bucks for one more hit.  I don’t know about you, my readers, but a true friend is one who helps his friend quit, especially when he knows it’s wrong.  Maybe international aid should morph into international tough love: helping nations help themselves, not helping national help themselves to our money.

Where are the people who don’t mind government programs, but only as a reward for functional government?  Only create new programs when you are able to support pre-existing programs.  It seems the FBI is <a href="http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100809/17262010563.shtml&quot; increasing="" its="" intellectual="" property="" investigations while its <a href="http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/08/fbi-lab-shorts-missingpersons/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+wired27b+(Blog+-+27B+Stroke+6+(Threat+Level))" missing="" persons="" cases="" become="" backlogged.  That seems… wrong to me.  Don’t stop government growth, but ensure existing function before scaling.

<a href="http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/08/fbi-lab-shorts-missingpersons/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+wired27b+(Blog+-+27B+Stroke+6+(Threat+Level))" missing="" persons="" cases="" become="" backlogged

Where are the people who love states’ rights? When the federal government fails, through design, states can become islands of hope for citizens.  The US is large, on a scale never before managed by anything but atotalitariangovernment, and no federal law will ever be perfect.  States, representing far fewer people than the whole, and with citizens who enjoy the humanizing benefits of shared experience (primarily through proximity), are more enabled to create laws in line with their majority opinions.  Protect them and allow the free-flow of citizens to pass through state boundaries to their own island where they feel most comfortable.

I understand that this is not a complete platform, lacking opinion on areas such as health, education and market regulation.  But I hope that you leave with the gist.  If the nations of the world are going to mock America and berate us for policy, then let us refocus on ourselves for the first time in 50+ years.  Pursue social freedoms, as all men are created equal, and defend those rights from others.  Humans are far from perfect, wholly-understanding creatures, but government exists to enforce the ideal.  Conflicts certainly arise, but at the root we should protect he or she who is fundamentally human.

Also, let us not bicker about large government versus small government.  Let us focus our attention on making what we have work, and work well, before we scale.  Reward government efficiency and functionality with opportunity to expand.  With such a mentality, we might also be able to best extend aid to those nations that need it, instead of supporting failing programs and promoting bad habits, all in the name of international friendship.

Finally, let us remember why states exist in the first place.  America has never meant to be ahomogeneousplace, but it’s also not meant to be in a constant state of chaos and identity crisis.  States allow for islands of tranquility for those who choose toprioritizetheir values andprinciplesdifferently from their neighbor.  Allow this to continue, allow states to represent an opportunity to escape should and individualfinallyrealize that they are unable toprioritizelife the way they want, that they no longer have an opportunity to pursue their happiness.

In a time when I have begun to craft my own political ideas and opinions, I ask myself, where are my Americans?

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2 responses to “Where Are My Americans?

  1. ” I understand the (effective) two party system, I understand how its existence actually helps America manage one of the largest and most populous nations on the planet.”

    Arguably, the two-party system does not actually help “manage” a diverse and populous country. It manages to ensure that the diversity of the country is in fact not represented in the government at all. It manages to maintain the fiction that there are only two possible positions on any given issue. It manages to ensure that most Americans feel they are not properly represented by their government. It may well manage to lead to its own overthrow. If we are lucky.

  2. I can sense the frustration, and believe me, sitting down and listening to the nightly news, or reading it online, and seeing how these two parties do NOT represent my views is part of the whole reason I wrote this post.

    However, when it comes down to governing, there are only two parties: the party that says yes, and the party that says no. With such a large population, it would be nearly 100% ineffective to represent special interests as full parties in government, the way many parliamentary systems function, or in many cases, not function at all. In fact, in many parliamentary systems, majority governments are often coalitions of minority special interest groups who must toe the party line anyway, effectively creating a two party system.

    This is why I chose the term “manage” in the first place. I did not say a two party system represents the people properly, because it does not, however, I feel that it is a necessary evil when compared to other systems, and has handled American affairs fairly well for over 200 years.

    The American federal government is designed to implement the least amount of change over the longest period of time as possible, and was traditionally reliant on the states to provide models for change. In some areas of government, I wish we could return to this method.