Saturday, February 02, 2008

mutually exclusive politics

We live in a culture which believes many things are "mutually exclusive." But can't we challenge many of our mutually exclusive assumptions? Can someone be a Republican and also believe in gun control? Can someone be a Democrat and also be pro-life?

We often pigeon-hole people into one camp or another. Missy experiences this all the time. When people hear that she is from Texas, they assume all kinds of things about her. They assume she wears cowboy hats, owns a shotgun, rides a horse and always votes Republican. But when people don't know she is from Texas and find out that she is a teacher living in Maryland, the assumption is that she is a Democrat.

We see this phenomenon playing out in the presidential race. Right now each political party needs to be far enough to their side of the aisle to get the nomination but not so far that they alienate the rest of the country in the general election. Obama and McCain seem to be doing the best job at winning over their party and yet still leaning toward the middle in preparation for the general election. Clinton and Romney are so far in their own party's corner that if they win the nomination they will probably bring quite a bit of division this Fall.

But my guess is that most of the country wants a presidential candidate who doesn't see their party's views and the other party's views as always mutually exclusive. Gun control should make sense for both a Republican and a Democrat. Fighting terrorism around the world should make sense for both parties. Keeping taxes low for the middle and lower classes should be a desire of both the left and the right. Getting our country off of our dependence on oil should be a priority for both sides of the aisle, if not for the environment then for national security. Reducing the number of abortions in our country should be important for both red and blue states.

I want a President who doesn't have to toe the party line. I want a Democrat in office who will strengthen our military instead of weaken it. I want a Republican in office who will get guns off the streets instead of receiving lobbyist money from the NRA. I want a Democrat who will care about the lives of the unborn or a Republican who will help Americans get affordable health care. For Democrats to duke it out over who is more liberal or Republicans to duke it out over who is more conservative misses the point. Most of America does not want someone far off to the left or far off to the right. We want someone who doesn't buy into the "mutually exclusive" labels and instead sides with the best idea because it's the best idea.


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