Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Where Do You Stand?

If you click on the title, "Where Do You Stand?", you'll find a fun little test to see where you stand on a few issues, and once you're done, it'll tell you if you're a Centrist, Left, Right, Libertarian (little government) or Statist (lots of government.

Surprisingly, mine says I'm a "Centrist" -- It says "CENTRISTS espouse a "middle ground" regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose "political extremes," and emphasize what they describe as "practical" solutions to problems.

Now, I'm only surprised because I thought I was more liberal than that. I'm not much of a Libertarian, because I do believe Government by definition belongs in people's lives, because we should be part of the governance of a country, and that a civilized one takes care of its old, sick, poor and young.

I'm not a "Statist" because I also believe that if you're not in a vulnerable group, you should work your butt off and make money to help take care of the old, sick, poor and young.

One of the topics that came on a board I belong to relates to the politicization of issues, like environmentalism -- and why the Left has commandeered that issue to be their own. To me, that's a no-brainer, only because I've never met a Republican who worked for Greenpeace, and until I do, they just don't have the argument that they're "for the environment".

It's not to say that I agree with everything Greenpeace does, or that they own the environment, or that to work for that organization you have to be a Left-wing wacko. It's only to say that one of the biggest environmental lobbies is most likely 99.9% inhabited by liberal folks who believe the planet must come first, and I've never met a Republican who believes that the planet comes before the right to drive it into the ground.

As a result of this whole conversation, which of course has plenty of people like me who don't fit any particular mold (33% or more of us are considered "Centrist", which I take to mean a variety of views that could be considered a mish-mash of Left and Right views), I was pleased to see that many of us, even when we consider ourselves one thing, are actually middle of the roaders.

The other thing that got me thinking, was how with each generation in my family, a variety of philosophies on government have emerged.

My grandparents were conservative. Now, part of that is the fact that in the 1940s and 1950s as they were having their families and raising them, white middle-class folks like Blanche, Karl, Gwladys (no that's not a typo) and Walt didn't have much interaction with people of color, gay people, or pretty much anyone that wasn't "like them." They raised their Lutheran kids, went to work, and had larger family trees with more branches and leaves than one can imagine in this day and age.

They were never faced with "different" so they didn't have to really think about whether gay rights were important to them, because gay people stayed in the closet. They didn't think about black people unless they ran into them at a store. They didn't care much for them because they didn't see the injustice. Injustice and its residents were neatly packed on "the other side of the tracks".

My parents took their lives to a new level in a new time. As young adults in the early 1960s, they married and left the country to be missionaries in Brazil (a noble thing to do, go spreading the message of Martin Luther (not MLK Jr.) to the Catholic masses of Brazil). They largely missed the tumult of the 1960s, as they left for Brazil in 1962, just a year before JFK was shot, and didn't return home for anything but short furloughs until 1972.

Before they left, however, my folks knew a black couple in Minnesota near where my Dad was going to seminary. They had a picnic with them in the park, and my Mom said she remembered how people stared at them because my folks were having lunch with "colored folks". Minnesotans probably didn't get their knickers in a twist about it like they would in The South, but they sure noticed it.

But even for my parents, it was one thing to be friends with a black person -- it was quite another to marry someone who was black.

It became readily apparent to me as I was growing up, when a close black friend of my older brother's became interested in my sister. They dated briefly, and it didn't last. But I remember my parents voicing their concern over the racism my sister would face, and over how they would be received in anything but the larger cities that might be more accepting. I was also given a similar speech by my own father, who would later be much more liberal -- when I dated a Jewish guy in college. "How will you raise your kids if you get married?" my Dad asked me.

Well, I'd been on a few dates with him -- I had no plans for marriage anyway, but I told my Dad that that was the least of my concerns.

In the end, I know my parents were probably looking out for their kids, but there was an undercurrent of social pressure and dare I say racism.

The next generation is more liberal on the whole. Out of the five kids in my family, I suspect, though I won't say for certain, that one is a rather moderate Republican, three of us are moderate Democrats, and my Socialist brother leans ever-so-gently more to the left than the rest of us.

Despite my parents' Republican leanings, and most of that related to their views on social issues due to their Christianity and generation, all of us have become even more liberal than they ever were. Even my Republican sibling is more Centrist than my parents ever were.

As this discussion over politics and issues continued, I realized that there is no guarantee that any of us, no matter which way we lean politically, will produce children of like minds.

Personally, I just plan on naming my next son "Alex P. Keaton" to get the shock of the Republican I'll have over with.

Just kidding of course.

Just remember -- no matter what you are -- plan on your kids being different than you. Personally, I think it's what keeps the world in balance.

And as a Centrist, that's a good thing.


Cal said...

I'm apparently a close-to-centrist, slightly-to-the-right Libertarian.

Neat quiz.

Gina in N'Awlins said...

You've made some pretty annectdotal-based sweeping assumptions, there Jules. But it's your blog ;~)

Gina ~ reminding you that I am also a "Centrist" - LOL~!

Jill said...

Hey! Your moderately Republican sister actually tested as Centrist also : ) (I've never considered myself "republican" or "Democrate") I agree you make some sweeping assumptions: environmentalism is increasingly important to Republicans... I don't think environmentalism should be a political position anyway. Love ya, Jill


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