As the 114th Congress begins to ramp up, and because the debate between “true conservatives” and “mainstream moderates’ in the Republican Party once again manifested itself during the selection of House Speaker John Boehner a few days ago, I thought this would be a good time to explain why I am a Republican.
My friends in the Democratic Party do not understand my political preference. Republicans, they say, favor corporate interest over the individual. Republicans, they say, are opposed to marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.
Because I am a moderate who supports both marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose, some of my friends (on both sides of the political aisle) wonder why I would choose to be a member of the Grand Old Party (GOP).
Before we proceed, please note that this post is entitled: Why I am a Republican, not why you should be a Republican.
It should also be noted that I do not speak for my party, and I acknowledge that my views often cause other Republicans to label me as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).
Maybe it’s because I am stubborn, or maybe it’s because I am a born contrarian, but I really think my allegiance to the Republican Party (although at times embarrassing) has to do with some fundamental core differences between Republicans and Democrats.
I am also emboldened by the statements and core beliefs of President Ronald Reagan that “there is room in our tent for many views.”
Generally speaking, Republicans believe that each person is responsible for his or her own place in society, while Democrats believe it is the responsibility of government to care for all individuals, even if it means giving up some individual rights.
Generally speaking, Democrats favor the centralization of power in Washington, D.C., while Republicans hold dear the 10th Amendment, which calls for limited federal authority and rights not specified in the Constitution be reserved for the states.
On these two core values, I strongly side with the GOP. While I believe some measure of federal regulation, whether it’s the FAA or even meat inspectors at the FDA, is absolutely necessary for the common good, I also believe in the virtue of a limited federal government and the decentralization of power.
In a true Democracy, the majority trumps the minority. In a Constitutional republic, the rights of the individual, even in the minority, cannot be trumped by the majority. In the United States, we adhere a to a delicate balance between these two types of government. (The latter being intended to thwart tyranny, which can include government overreach.)
The case for and against the GOP
Of course, there are times when I find myself at odds with my own party, but after reviewing the 2014 Maine GOP Party platform, it became quickly evident that I more often side with Republicans than Democrats.
For example, one tenet of the Maine GOP platform addresses immigration, saying we “Support the assimilation of legal immigrants into Maine society.”
Another: “The profits of an individual’s efforts and accumulation of private property belong to the individual.”
More: “Implement a comprehensive energy policy that removes government obstacles and reduces the cost of energy for Maine families and businesses.”
“Welfare is a safety-net for Maine’s most vulnerable”
“Parents – not government – are most capable and responsible to make decisions in the best interest of their minor children, including medical, disciplinary and educational decision.”
There are many others, and you can read the full text here.
Although I agree with the majority of the Maine GOP’s platform, there some key places where we part ways, including language regarding abortion, the definition of marriage and calling for the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, among a few others.
The case for and against Democrats
In fairness, I also reviewed the Maine Democratic Party’s 2014 platform. 2014 MDP Platform
I found myself at odds with a majority of the tenets contained in that platform, including the nice-sounding but ill-advised “livable wage,” and increasing the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage does not, in my opinion, “lift people out of poverty” rather it simply adjusts the height of the floor and removes incentive to advance.
The Maine Democratic Party believes that health care is a “fundamental human right.’ this logic is flawed because a “right” is not something that must be provided by obligation from another person or entity. “Rights” do not come with costs, and someone has to be paid to provide healthcare, whether it’s skilled nursing, facilities or medical equipment. For more of my thoughts on this topic, go here.
Democrats also support the ill-advised concept of so-called “net neutrality,” as if the government needs to be involved in regulating the internet. For more of my thoughts on this topic, go here.
The Maine Democratic Party opposes tort reform, a giant gift to trial lawyers and a sure-fire way to drive up costs in the private sector.
The Democrats also favor increasing the number of terms that a legislator can serve. Frankly, I think eight years is plenty and we don’t need professional politicians in Augusta.
The opposing party also opposes the Keystone XL pipeline, a project I vigorously support. (Pipelines are much safer than trains; and that oil will be shipped one way or another)
The Democrats also believe that a greater portion of tax revenues should come from the income tax, calling sales taxes regressive. I believe the exact opposite.
Democrats believe it is “appropriate to impose higher taxes on sin taxes. I smoke cigarettes and drink beer. Enough said.
Among many other things, Democrats believe that government pensions should be exempt from income taxes. As the spouse of a government worker, I concede that my opposition to this is not self-serving. Then again, I think we should all strive to be a bit less “self-serving.”
Now, I do find myself in agreement with many of the Democrats core principles, but I am also wary of the feel-good language and the dangers of good intentions. Democrats support workplace safety, a strong education system, marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.
So, in the end there are inherent strengths and weaknesses in each party.
But when I do the math, it turn out that I am a Republican, even if in name only.