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Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right
My Problem with Party Politics
“Daddy was a vet’ran, a Southern Democrat, they ought to get a rich man to vote like that…” ~ Alabama
“Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am stuck in the middle with you” ~Steelers Wheel
One reason I rarely venture into the realm of American politics is because I am not in the habit of going places I do not belong, much less where I am not wanted. And I am as out of place among both Republicans and Democrats as a country ham at a synagogue.
I see no value in hitching my wagon to an elephant with neither sense of direction nor recollection of where he came from. Neither do I envy the prospect of hooking myself to an ass that can’t plow in a straight line and tries to bite me at every turn.
I can’t remember the last time I trusted a politician of any stripe. Most are so crooked that when they die the undertaker will have to screw them into the ground with a torque wrench. 99.9% of them, Blue and Red, should be handed a pink slip and told to get further and smell better.
One party prides itself on being “conservative,” while having nothing to conserve but the madness of five minutes ago, and the other touts being “progressive,” which seems to mean they are careening at a rapid pace off the edge of the cliff like a gaggle of over-eager lemmings. Neither sounds very appealing to me.
I live in a Red state that was once a Blue state. But this is because the Democratic Party to which my people belonged sold its soul to the Devil and worships at the blackened altar of Molech. It certainly isn’t because the folks in Toad Suck, Arkansas finally got around to reading Hayek and started subscribing to The National Review. I know this isn’t true everywhere, but in some ways my state still feels like it is peopled by that extinct species of Democrat. But then again, I don’t live in America, I live in Arkansas.
I was born into a family of traditionalist Southern Democrats, a breed of political animal that has gone the way of the Dodo Bird in my lifetime. My folks went to church on Sundays, to work on Mondays, and to union meetings on Thursdays. They believed in the sacred nature of the traditional family, the supremacy of the Christian religion and its outworking in society, the inviolability of the First Amendment, and the necessity of the Second Amendment to protect all of that.
We were taught that honorable folks worked hard to earn a living, and that the government should only help if and when they couldn’t. The Republicans were encouraging everyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but we understood that it’s mighty hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when the straps rotted off months ago during a long hard winter. But even so, the business of government was to give those people a leg up, but never a hand out.
FDR was venerated as a modern day saint. If you asked folks in my part of the world how they survived the Depression, most would’ve told you, “By the grace of God and Franklin Roosevelt.” Because it’s hard to hate a man who made sure your children didn’t starve after the cotton mills went bust, your husband got a brain tumor, and there was so little work to be had for a woman with 6 kids.
The New Deal was viewed as a late answer to the Reconstruction question. At the time, half-measures laden with problems seemed better than none. Folks too poor to make it could at least get by on surplus commodities. Those too proud to stand in line at the courthouse or the national guard armory for peanut butter and cheese could slip over and get it from a relative with a little less shame.
“That’s not ‘conservative,’” some will say. Perhaps not. But if it hadn’t been for such measures, my family wouldn’t have been “conserved” at all.
Does this make me “fiscally liberal?” I don’t think it has to. I am for less ludicrous spending than either present party. For instance, I am not in favor of bailing out banksters, funding federal sexual re-education seminars, or footing the bill for foreign wars. I’m telling you that I don’t belong.
I reckon I am a traditionalist, conservative, reactionary, blue-dog democratic-republican. Sadly, we have few candidates on the ballot. So it is true that I tend to vote with the Republicans most of the time, but I am usually loathe to do it because I know it only encourages the bastards.
So don’t ask me to do anything “for my party,” tell me to do it for my family. Am I “patriotic?” Who knows. I figure my patriotism is like bursitis:it flares up a couple times a year, and usually in hot weather. I love my home and try to love my neighbor, but if you mean do I think I need to spread the Gospel of Exxon-Mobile to the four corners of the world, then you can haul me up on charges of treason.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to hover over the socio-political landscape pretending that I am above it all, floating more serenely than the Buddha. This is not some airy-fairy Third-Wayism as much as it is a lament that things have changed so much and gotten so bad so quickly. And I imagine I’m not the only one.
I suppose what I am trying to say is this: my neck is red, my collar is blue, but my conscience is clear.