Saturday, December 18, 2021

Where I Stand

      A few commenters appear to be quite disappointed in me.  They have apparently been laboring under the common delusion that "libertarian" somehow means "superconservative.*"

      It does not.  (To be sure, a lot of self-identified libertarians have decided it means that, or something even alt-Rightier, but that's their lookout.)

      On most social issues that don't involve public expenditure, I'm going to look frighteningly liberal to most conservatives.  I really don't care if my neighbors pray five times a day on a mat, seven times a day with a rosary, never, or whatever other arrangement suits them.  I don't care if same-sex couples marry one another and I don't care if the ceremony is in some language other than English.  I believe American culture is a lovely, syncretic, polyglot mess.  I think your showerhead and your monster truck is your own business -- but you'll have to pay the going rate for gas or water.  I'm not going to go all agog when some brightly-tattooed non-binary person stomps past me in Wal-Mart, and I'm not going to get apoplectic when a private business sets its own rules about the wearing (or non-wearing) of facemasks or maintaining social distance.

      Fiscally, well, I think the government ought to be funded by voluntary contributions and bake sales -- but it isn't.  The best we can hope for -- and work for -- is that they won't be too wasteful with the money they take from us.  On the other hand, a little bit of slop and inefficiency leaves room for a modicum of decency and compassion at the lowest level; the machinery of government should never be so smoothly polished that it doesn't allow some leeway for the humanity of the people who run it and those who are most affected by it.

      I believe all of our institutions are inherently voluntary: they exist and persist only because enough of us are willing to go along.  From the kindliest of public libraries to the meanest of police departments (and indeed, vice-versa), it happens because we let it; it functions because we pitch in and because we don't try too hard to shove a stick into the spokes.  While these institutions are resilient, everything from government to churches to Scout troops to annoying people circulating petitions, any of them can be broken or badly damaged by enough people making the effort, for good or ill.

      I don't believe any person or group is entirely without wicked impulses; nor is anyone so evil as to not occasionally do good. Humans are not perfect, and we're not perfectable. We're also not especially consistent; we swerve to miss squirrels in the street and later make rude hand gestures at drivers who startle us, all in the same trip.

      I do believe in expertise: different people have differing abilities, different levels of education and different levels of skill.  When my car needs to be repaired, I take it to someone with training and experience in fixing cars, and I pay attention to their advice.  This principle applies to all subjects; each of us can only learn a few of the specialized skills and while we might have opinions about medical matters or space travel (etc., etc.), knowing the limits of one's knowledge is an excellent measure of wisdom.  One's own personal ignorance of some subject does not over-rate the judgment of people who actually know what they are doing.

      I believe we have a government of mainly amateurs, most of who are moderately honest and relatively diligent; I don't think any of them show up for work rubbing their hands together and chortling over how they're going to screw us all over  (and I don't think that means they might not, even with the finest of intent, screw us over anyway; but there are checks and balances to keep 'em from going too far).  I think our elections are honestly run, mostly because the volunteers and low-paid workers at the bottom watch one another like hawks and gossip like the old maids no few of them are; it is simply not an environment in which any conspiracy could stay hidden.

      I don't believe in Great Leaders.  We elect these people to go off and represent us, or try to keep the everyday business of our city, state or country running, and they are, all of them, Just Some Gal or Guy.  Some of them are better at the rah-rah business of campaigning than others, some of them have better PR programs, some are way out there politically or mentally, some are hard workers and some are drunks, but not a one of them is magical and every last one of them is scrambling just as hard to keep up as you or me, no matter how pretty a front they put on.

      I don't believe in conspiracy theories.  Our world is too complex for any sort of large-scale, behind-the-scenes string-pulling to work.  The horrible truth is, nobody's really in charge, and the greatest and most notable of men or organizations astride current events is pretty much an ant trying to drag a fallen leaf in a high wind.

      Is that collection of notions "liberal" or "conservative" to you?  I think it's neither.  But if you showed up here hoping for someone to beat a drum for Mr. Trump, or beat up on Mr. Biden -- or to cheer for Biden and dunk on Trump -- you're barking up the wrong door.  If you came for an echo-chamber of half-baked conspiracy theories, you're in for disappointment.  The coronavirus is real, the vaccines work, Joe Biden is a run-of-the-mill Democrat who actually won a close election for President, and it's wrong to riot, do harm to individuals and damage property, in Portland, Washington D. C. or anywhere else -- and 6 January was closer to a coup than this country has yet seen.  Our Federal government tottered and the next hard shove could push it over, which I think would be a tragedy. 

     There you go.  If you find it objectionable, go read something else; it's a big Internet and right now, it's a "choose your own reality" adventure.  Just remember, the game is for real and the stakes are about as high as they get.
* I could go on quite a rant about how today's Republicans have distorted and bent the meaning of "conservative" to get it to align with Mr. Trump's package deal of trade protectionism, leader-idolization, jingoistic nativism and a very exclusionist notion of citizenship.  But I won't.  I'm not a Republican and I can only presume that the local, state and national organizations of that party are embracing the policies and positions they have freely chosen.  I will observe that so doing didn't help the Whigs or the Know-Nothings to hang on; but it's not my party and I don't get a say in how it is run.


Cop Car said...

I care not a fig whether you and I agree or disagree on anything. I come by to read words from a multi-faceted person whom I consider to be engaging - sometimes witty, always intelligent, logical, and coherent (despite your frog-in-the-blender).

Glenn Kelley said...

What he said.

naleta said...

Me 3!

Comrade Misfit said...

Nicely stated.