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American Perspective

Updated on August 3, 2014
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By: Wayne Brown

One does not have to read some of my writing very long to figure out that I am a conservative in my philosophy and political tone.  I recently had a reader ask me the question as to whether I could be a conservative and not also be a Republican. If so, how was that possible?  It made sense to me but then he stated that he was confused on the issue so I grabbed some inspiration from his confusion and decided to write about it.

 

For much of the history of America, we have lived under a two party political system.  Sure there have been other parties over time but they have proved to be flash in the pan politics and rapidly disappeared from the landscape over the course of time.  In essence, I guess you could say that the surviving two parties represent the opposite ends of polarity within our society at its extremes. As the needle moves away from the extremes, we find the moderates and at the middle ground, the independent voter, who claims no party affiliation.

 

The Democratic Party is representative of the more liberal philosophy within our society. It is also the party of the “progressive” movement.  Both the liberal and the progressive aspects of the Democratic Party tend to temper the thinking away from traditional models and toward new and sometimes untried methodology.  The Democrats are often described as the “Party of the Left” as a result of this orientation.  Democrats lean toward a system of fulfilling social needs which tends to grow the size of government over time. Generally, the Democrat philosophy subscribes to government overseeing as much as possible the welfare of the people.

 

The Republican Party is the party of “mixed conservatism” which runs a broad gambit spanning everything from the business and economic spectrum to that of religion and politics.  The Republican view tends to lean toward tradition, historical validity, and the notion that small government is essential to the welfare of a democratic republic.  Due to the broad nature of the conservative belief spectrum, the Republicans seem to suffer more conflicts within the party as to what the primary issues should be at any given time. This characteristic has proved to be a disadvantage for the party in many instances.

 

Regardless of the political leaning of either party, both define a system of “party planks” or primary issues on which they attempt to attract voters.  These planks of their platform are thought to represent the primary issues of concern with the voting public and each party offers its particular perspective on those issues.  This is known as the “party line” or as of late referred to as “the talking points” of the party.  No matter what you call them, the information represents the “group think” of the party.

 

So can you be a liberal and not be a Democrat?  Or can you be a conservative and not be a Republican?  I think, in both cases, the answer is definitely “yes”.  There are many forms of liberalism that span the spectrum of thinking.  For example, one could be a socialist who certainly thinks on a liberal slant but has nothing else in common with the Democratic Party.  One could also be a religious fanatic and believe that all people should be governed by nothing less than The Bible.  While this is certainly a most conservative viewpoint, it does not necessarily mean this person has anything else in common with the Republican Party.

 

Now, let’s switch it around and ask the question in a different manner.  Can one be a Democrat and not be a liberal?  Or can one be a Republican and not be a conservative?  If we subscribe to the spirit of the philosophy of each party, I think we find that answer is likely “no”.  If that makes no sense to you, then perhaps the information covered it the next paragraph will help to clear it up.

 

In essence by assigning names to the key political parties, there is a fogging of the lens for some.  Democrat does not literally mean “liberal” nor does the word Republican literally mean “conservative”.  It is the association philosophically that attaches the word or party label to the thinking.  Thus one can conclude that if an issue is studied by the Democratic Party, then their official position on that issue will likely have a liberal slant. So, if a person describes themselves politically as a “Democrat”, in essence, they are also saying that they abide by the liberal mindset and vice-versa for the “Republican”.

 

So, how do I know if I should claim to be a liberal versus a Democrat or a conservative versus a Republican?   I think the answer can come from only one source…yourself.  You are the one who knows in your own heart and mind what you feel and what you think.  That really becomes the determining factor.  How do I feel about this issue?  What do I think?  If you can come up with a perspective, then you have ownership of those feelings and that mindset.  Of course, it may not be original and you may not be the first person to feel that way. But, the important thing is that you came up with the perspective within yourself thus you have ownership.

 

Conversely, when the Democratic Party mails out their informational packets to you and you read the information item by item, then you are no longer making the decisions about what is important and what is not.  The same would be true in the Republican perspective.  Now, you are reading the party line.  Your decision-process now faces the litmus test of validation.  In other words, do you agree with the perspectives as they are stated?  If you do not, then you may want to question whether you have any business in a political party affiliation.

 

Personally, I try to form my own opinions on issues to the greatest extent that I can. Honestly, there are some issues on which I am sitting on the “null” in that I do not see a great value in having a particular perspective on them nor do I see any significant damage in going either way on the decision.  Basically, I can live with it either way…that’s my perspective on that particular issue.  On the issues I am more passionate about, I try to form my own opinion and I use the information available to test my opinion. For the most part, the best test is just sheer common sense.  If the proposed outcome does not make sense, it is probably not a good idea to go that direction.  Use common sense and seek out information in order to form your own perspective.  If you are like me, that perspective will likely take a conservative slant in almost every case because that is my nature as a person.  That’s not to say that I am right about everything and someone of a liberal slant is wrong. It is to say that I am far more comfortable with my perspective than the alternative.  That’s what makes me a conservative but not necessarily a Republican.

 

I think most of us have been told by our parents at one time or other to always “think for ourselves.”  In fact, most of us heard it so much it just became a worn-out cliché to which we paid little real attention.  But, it is in fact an extremely important part of our lives and a very necessary process if we take a responsible role as a citizen of this country.  First and foremost, think for yourself.  Then, if you feel the need to belong, attempt to match that thinking with those who hold similar perspectives.

 

I have always been wary of fanaticism in any form whether it is in the political or religious arena.  When we mix fanaticism with “group think” we often get disastrous results such as the Jim Jones Kool-Aid mass suicides or the Waco standoff with the Branch Davidians.  There are those who can speak, reason, and inspire on such a level as to defy one’s own ability to reason for themselves.  Given that set of circumstances, we can find a large group of people following the mindset of one or a small handful of leaders.  History has shown time and again that the outcome of such blind following can be tragic.

 

When I hear someone describe themselves as a Republican or as a Democrat, I assume they have chosen that affiliation because what they believe individually is aligned with the premise of that party.  I hope they have taken that first step and decided “what they think” on the basis of what really makes sense as opposed to just blindly stepping into the ranks and allowing the party to decide for them “what they think”.  Unfortunately, the latter is all too often the case and it is easy to identify because the person involved stumbles all over themselves when asked to state their views and defend them in any way.  When one ends up in this situation, they have already swallowed the Kool-Aid.

 

I issue this caution because organizations change over time.  Look back to the 1950’s and you will find that the Democratic Party was much more “conservative” in nature and philosophy than it is today.  At that point in time, the southland of America was owned by the Democratic Party thus the term, “Southern Democrat”.  Today, that trend has been heavily reversed and much of the southland leans to the Republican orientation.  While “liberalism” is not necessarily bad, the orientation of the Democratic Party lends itself to individuals and sub-groups of Socialist, Marxist, and Communist orientations.  Eventually, these sub-groups gain footholds on the power within the party and begin to influence the thinking and the perspective of the party.  To blindly call yourself a “Democrat” without examining the belief system and how it matches up with your own perspectives may not be the best choice.  This is just an example as a similar argument might also be made of the Republican perspective but from a different slant.

 

Some individuals feel more comfortable when they ‘belong’.  They want to be a part of a group and experience the warmth of the herd.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that desire as long as they take the necessary precautions to make sure they are aligning themselves with an organization that does share their own perspectives.  Then, and only then, can you describe yourself as a “Democrat” or as a “Republican” and know in your heart that this is where you stand and where you belong.

 

© Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved.

 

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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Mr. Happy...I think you make sense. I look at it this way. Government as it was orginally conceived is a good thing. We need an entity of the people which provides protection, a system of laws and maintains a common infrastructure which we all utilize in some way daily. At the same time, a car, as originally conceived, was a conveyance designed to provide transportation between point A and B. In either case, if we put people in charge of either the government or the car who interprets that usage in a different light or decides to apply it to a broad aspect then there is the potential to destroy and damage. For example, a car in and of itself is not necessarily dangerous but put in the hands of a drunk man it becomes a potential killing machine. Government is no different given that it is controlled by the wrong people...irresponsible people or people with different intentions. At the present, we have people in government who feel that it is the governments place to provide for the common welfare in all aspects of people's lives. This nation was not founded on that premise. People came to America to get away from what they considered intolerable situations. They did not come with the promise of much other than religious freedom and liberty. Their welfare was up to them and how they applied themselves to provide it. Somewhere along the way, we have allowed those who control our government to convince too many people in America that they should look to the government for their welfare. Think about that in terms of the car, you look toward your car for transportation and reliability...what else should ask of it realistically. Does that help? WB

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. Wayne, you've been of some help in my understanding of the conservative mindset so I am bothering you again. I have a little dilemma which I thought you might be able to help me with, concerning the issue with the role of government in society.

      Conservatives for the most part dislike the government and anything the government does, except wars I suppose. The government is seen as a evil, untrustworthy entity.

      I look at the government like ... I can explain this best by comparing a government with a car. The car does nothing on its own. Just like Congress cannot do anything if it is empty. People getin a car and drive it - people get into Congress and create legislation, they create laws, or not, etc.

      Thus, I see government as us, the people who can drive it. If I leave the car unlocked and with the keys in the ignition, I am sure someone will get in eventually and run-off with it. Same with the government, if we are not involved, if we let lobbyists drive it ... we will end-up in the ditch.

      You see, thatis why I do not dislike governments but I do at times dislike those driving it. Therefore, I do not want to eliminate government but the intoxicated people behind the wheel.

      Do I make any sense?

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @drbj....Glad you liked it. I was afraid that it might come across as too basic and elementary to be interesting...maybe not! WB

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      A well thought-out piece of exposition, Wayne. And you summed it all up nicely in the comment you made above: "when the voter does his/her homework, this system is a winner." And so are we!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @GojiJuiceGoodness...I like your rationale...it holds up across the spectrum and lets you look at the individual rather than just accept a party line. When the voter does their homework, this system is a winner. Thanks. WB

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image

      GojiJuiceGoodness 

      7 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Great hub! I often vote Republican, but I don't consider myself one. For an instance, I voted for a Republican guy for County Board of Supervisors this morning. But I voted for the Independant for Congress because he's more conservative. Although I'm like 99.9% sure the Republican will win.

      In our family we say "We vote for the most conservative, pro-life, small government guy there is. It really doesn't matter what party he's with, it matters what he believes and how he votes/represents the people."

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Micky Dee....Just empty promises...that's all there is anyone out of Washington...well, except for insane spending! Thanks, Micky. WB

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      I see Liberals not conserving and Conservatives not conserving. Neither seem to be conserving lives and souls. Thanks

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @eovery...Great plan...I like it and I hope there are more out there with the same plan! WB

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 

      7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Great job.

      I am a conservative and partly libertarian first, and a republican second.

      Only problem republican is the only way to go. So I figure I need to make my voice heard in the republican party and help reform it to the party I want, conservatism and Liberty.

      Keep on hubbing!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Ray Thoughts...Thanks much, Ray...even better coming from a Texan! Glad you like the stuff! WB

      @James A Watkins...Thank you James! I really think this is an area, though simple, that America needs to sort out better on an individual basis. If we know where we stand, we'll know more about where our country stands and why! I appreciate the read and the comments! WB

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      This is an excellent Hub. Your explication of American political beliefs and spectrums is very well done. I like the Satriani, too. :)

    • Ray Thoughts profile image

      Ray Thoughts 

      7 years ago from The East Coast

      Wow! Good Job from a former Texan!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Mr. Happy...you are close but somewhat reversed...at the far right side of the spectrum, I will likely fall off the Republican wagon. From my perspective, that is the point at which religion begins to mix too much with government and guiding it. This is the rift that I reference within the party where the divisions occur and they cannot seem to settle on a candidate and/or issue. I don't disagree on your point regarding the party to find a broad appeal but at the same time I see the same old stranglehold politics of the senior generations in the party who insist on trotting out war ponies that may be past their prime with the voter. I think they could do better in that arena.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thanks for the explanation. So, in your case would you say that you would not consider yourself Republican because they are not conservative enough?

      You wrote that: "Due to the broad nature of the conservative belief spectrum, the Republicans seem to suffer more conflicts within the party as to what the primary issues should be at any given time. This characteristic has proved to be a disadvantage for the party in many instances."

      I would say this is an advantage because as the world changes and as people change with time, political parties should adapt as well. With this in mind, the Republican party undergoing change and shapeshifting is perhaps trying to appeal to the masses of people of today and to stay relevant. It may get it wrong but I do not blame it for trying.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Tom Whitworth...Amen to that, Tom. If we put the same amount of energy into upholding that is exerted to attempt to change or undermine it, we might be in a very different circumstance today. Thanks for some great comment! WB

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Wayne,

      Your Hub describing the differences between Party Lable and political/ religious/ societal values makes perfect sense to me. I am a conservative and often even libertarian in my views but often find myself at odds with the Republican platform or Party Line!!!

      All in all it's the US Constitution given to us by the Founding Fathers that really matters to this American !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @50 Caliber....It's about time that we get it, don't ya think, 50? Thanks for the good words! WB

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Wayne, good job esplaining, even Lucy got it. 50

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @saddlerider1....that is sadly true Ken. Many folks just tire of the frustration and end up blindly voting so they can say they did I think. Then we also have the politician who campaigns for the office but gets overwhelmed by the opposition and gives up. Ultimately, I have to vote my conscience and common sense. If that follows a party affiliation, the so be it. One of the things that I find it true of both organized politics and organized religion...both soon lead to a cry for money! WB

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @American Romance...Good to see ya, AR...I felt the need to teach today! LOL! WB

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 

      7 years ago

      I think this hub is of a Conservative nature and because of that I can understand your reasoning. I have never been one to show loyalty to an extreme liberal party in my country.

      They tend to evolve completely into something that I can't recognize myself being party to. Our conservative party is not much better at convincing me to follow them and our Socialist party is definitely out of my league of thinking.

      So having said the above I am sitting on the fence most of the time and have a very hard decision to make just what party is the lesser of 3 evils. It's not easy being a voter in these very trying times my friend. For no matter who we vote in, we end up with to many broken promises, lies and cheating politicians.

      However I believe in liberty and freedom and power to the people, we must show the Government that it's time for a change, it just has to come or we are doomed. Great video fits well with this write.

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 

      7 years ago from America

      Well maybe these naive liberals will learn something here!..........and a few republicans too! LOL,

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