Ronald Reagan used to say that he did not leave the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party left him. Many people who change political parties say something similar. “Oh, I miss the days when the Republican Party was much more reasonable. Now, it has been highjacked by a bunch of radicals!”
I have departed from right-wing conservatism, in the sense that I am
more open now to voting for Democratic and progressive candidates.
Still, I wonder: has my ideology really changed that much?
I grew up reading literature of the ultra-conservative John Birch
Society. It would criticize the marriage between big government and big
business: big business looking to big government to suppress
competitors and grant big business unfair advantages. Well, guess what? I still agree with the John Birchers
that this is a problem! More than one progressive would, too. That's one reason for progressives' opposition to the Citizens United
Supreme Court decision: it gives special interests more power to
influence government decisions for their own benefit.
When I was a conservative, I believed in fiscal responsibility. The
government should try to eliminate waste and inefficiency. Well, there
are Democrats who say that, too! Both sides claim to care about the
deficit. And both sides create their share of them! But there have been plenty of Democratic governors who have managed to balance their state budgets. There are also
Democrats who propose new government spending programs, and I think that those
should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis: rather than assuming that
something is getting done because the government is spending more money,
we should take a look at how the money is being spent. We also
shouldn't have duplicate programs. And, rather than being too hasty to
create new programs, we should consider whether there are already
programs that are supposed to be doing a particular job.
wouldn't say that the Republican Party left me. I'm just saying that my
political change does not involve me repudiating everything I believed
when I was a conservative. My problem is, though, that many Republican
politicians seem pretty selective in applying their principles of the
free market and fiscal responsibility. My impression is that, in many
cases, their decisions on this are to the benefit of the rich, and to
the detriment of the poor, or those not as well-connected. And I am not
saying that the Democrats are perfect, not by a long shot.
ADDENDUM: I was thinking of turning off comments for this post, since I
don't want to get into a debate with anyone, or be asked to provide
examples of what I'm talking about. This post is my general
reflections, not a comprehensive research paper. I'm leaving the
comments on, though, because I can learn from comments, even ones that
disagree with me. Feel free to comment and to disagree, and I will read
the comments. But I most likely will not get into any debates.