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The Unapologetic Geek

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5 Reasons I'm Not a Republican

It's easy for people to assume, based on my conservative viewpoint, that I must be a card-carrying member of the Republican Party. Indeed, some of my recent posts have included a defense of the Tea Party, a pretty sarcastic take on the debt ceiling debate, and a list of President Obama's broken campaign promises, so I can understand how people might be confused. I am certainly no fan of the Democratic Party or "progressive" thought; I don't see everything through a lens of race, class, and gender; I believe in smaller government and the capitalist system; I don't care that Fox News has a right-leaning bias; I am not ashamed to have supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and I see no problem with comparing Social Security to a Ponzi scheme. However, I don't like being lumped in with the Republicans, even though I tend to vote for them, and here are five reasons why.

I Want Free International Trade

flags from around the world
All these flags were made in China

This could be listed as a reason why I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. Whether it's Democrats trying to control international business or Republicans trying to punish sovereign nations through trade sanctions, neither party believes in free trade with all. However, free trade would allow us to maintain good relations with every nation on the planet, would help discourage war, would greatly reduce the price of certain goods (like prescription drugs), and would encourage competition in the international marketplace, ultimately resulting in an improved the quality of life for everyone. I recognize that this idealistic attitude is a tough one to maintain; when our nation was incredibly young, President Washington's ideal of national neutrality was immediately tested several times by France and Great Britain, which eventually lead to the War of 1812. Even though history has proved that peace through free trade is a hard peace to maintain, I don't understand why modern American thought has forsaken the concept altogether. Is what we're doing now working out so much better?

"Securing Our Borders" is Nonsense

trade across the Mexican-American border
There are terrorist plans in those Mexican trinkets!

I recognize that immigration is a serious problem in this country that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. It is way too difficult to immigrate here legally, and we aren't doing enough to discourage people from being here illegally. I don't believe you can deal with one half of this equation without dealing with the other, but since 9/11, Republicans have tried adding a new component: securing the border. Nearly every Republican presidential hopeful today will say that we have to "secure our borders" before we can do anything else about our immigration woes, which essentially means we should have a more militant attitude towards our Southern border with Mexico, as epitomized by the pathetic, unfinished wall our last president tried to build there. This is all predicated on the notion that terrorists can too easily enter our country to carry out another attack. However, a more secure border with Mexico would have done as much to prevent 9/11 as our draconian airport security checkpoints would do to prevent another underwear bomber. It's hand-waving paranoia that makes absolutely no sense. There are things that can be done to help identify potential terrorists crossing into America, but "more secure borders" is not one of them.

What's the Problem with Gay Marriage Again?

gay men on a merry-go-round
The rarely mentioned fifth and sixth horsemen of the apocalypse, riding their fabulous horses

The idea that homosexuals are trying to get married is apparently so horrific to so many Republicans that they are repeatedly talking about amending the United States Constitution so that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman. If there is a logical reason for this anxiety, I have yet to hear it. The only arguments I have heard against allowing gay marriage are rooted in religious fundamentalism, intransigent traditionalism, and/or homophobia. Frankly, there is no place for any of that on the American political stage, much less for it to be expressly written into the constitution. Even if you are a fundamentalist Christian--in which case, I want to talk to you about the clothes you're probably wearing--you should recognize that, if homosexuality is a sin, it is in the purview of God to punish the sinners, not man. Personally, I don't believe there is anything wrong with homosexuality (any more than there's something wrong with being a fan of basketball), and those who are gay have more than enough to deal with without bigoted, self-righteous, Bible-thumping assholes trying to suppress their rights to be treated with equality. Surely Republicans have better things to worry about than two gay people getting a marriage tax credit.

I am Pro-Choice

a protestor holding a sign: no christian should vote 4 dead babies
This person has taken the birther movement to a whole new level: not only was Obama not born in America, he was never born at all!

I'm not comfortable with the concept of abortion. It's a moral grey area, and women who undergo abortions tend to have unforseen physical and/or psychological side effects in the long run. From a legal standpoint, there is no easy way to define the beginning of life, given that experts in science and theology can't come to any sort of agreement on the matter, so our courts should err on the side of liberty, which means allowing women to make their own choices when it comes to their unborn children. I don't think abortion should be easy--women need to be far more educated on the subject before undergoing the procedure and minors shouldn't be allowed to have abortions without the consent of a parent or legal guardian--but I also don't think there's enough cause to make it illegal. Republicans in large numbers, though, believe that abortion is so morally abhorrent that the government has a right to step in and stop it, or at least to ensure that it is never performed with taxpayer dollars. Still, like with the Republican consensus on gay marriage, I find little logic to this stance that isn't rooted in religious fundamentalism, and I wonder why this subject deserves so much hand-wringing from people who insist that government is already too involved in their lives.

Science Deserves Respect

Kirk Cameron and the Crocoduck
Kirk Cameron: irrefutable proof that all of science is wrong

Politics and science make dangerous bedfellows. Government grant money can unwisely force research in certain directions, even tainting the reliability of the results, and when politicians are put in charge of scientific matters, they almost always mess it up because they are not trained in science. It is no surprise, therefore, that some more politically-minded people are skeptical about science, but I think they're pointing their skepticism in the wrong direction; given the choice between trusting a politician and trusting a scientist, I'll take the scientist 100 times out of 100. I don't believe that the majority of Republicans are anti-science, but there is a certain segment of the overall Republican constituency that doesn't support stem-cell research, doesn't trust modern medicine, and honestly believes that evolution is "just a theory" that should be taught side-by-side with creationism in the science classroom. I could go in depth on every single instance of Republicans distrusting, misrepresenting, and/or misunderstanding the nature of science, but sufficed to say, I don't think this constituency has any respect for the institutions of science. The reason I put blame on the entire Republican Party for this is that few Republican leaders, if any, are willing to speak out against the anti-science segments within their ranks, and any party that will complacently allow such ignorance--or worse, give it occasional lip service--is not a party I want to be associated with.

So there you have it. There are other ways in which I refuse to toe the party line alongside Republicans, and there are other reasons there isn't an "R" next to my name on my voter registration card, but the above five reasons are things I feel strongly about. We have a tendency to lump people in groups based on simplistic assumptions, which is why I should disclaim that not all Republicans think the same way about any single subject. If you insist on labeling my political beliefs, you could do worse than call me a Libertarian (indeed, that's what my voter registration card says I am), but I could probably make a similar list explaining all the ways I disagree with extreme Libertarianism. Perhaps another day. For now, let's just settle on the fact that I think for myself, that I am willing to change my beliefs in the light of new experience or evidence, and that I believe our political parties are all inherently corrupted ideologies.

-e. magill 10/11/2011

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