For a long time, I have wrestled with the notion that I need to commit to a political party. Every time I have gone to declare an allegiance of one kind or another, something has stayed my hand. I have been ashamed of this for some time, thinking that perhaps I was too wishy-washy, too uncommitted, too weakly opinioned. I have been enticed by several political ideologies, most notably feminism and libertarianism, and have come close to choosing one on several occasions.
But again, something has kept me “aloof from all these parties” despite engaging in their several discussions as often as I felt drawn to them. Finally, I believe I have reached the root of the issues I have with choosing a political party.
I was in an MSHA class this week and one of the subjects is a Federal laws passed called “miner’s rights.” Essentially its a law that guarantees that a company cannot fire or harass a person if he or she, in good faith, refuses to work in an unsafe environment. Likewise, the laws protect a person if they file a complaint on their company, or testify against their own company in a court. The instructor of our class mentioned that he had testified in court against his own company 8 times and has filed complaints against his own company 4 times and that he had no fear of reprisal due to these laws.
I confess I think laws like Miner’s Rights are a good thing. In fact, I think they are a great thing. Laws like Miner’s Rights is one of many reason why I can’t be an ideological Libertarian. From a purely ideological point of view, Libertarianism believes that government (and therefore laws) should only provide enforcement of contracts, punishments for people that performed an initial use of force, or for country defense. Sometimes they do throw in some very limited public goods. Sometimes they claim there is no need even for government owned fire engines and that the private sector can handle it better.
Such a philosophy would be against “Miner’s Rights” on the grounds that it’s unnecessary because capitalism will create equivalent or better regulations and environments on their own without government interference. For example, the mining companies will be forced to introduce their own superior safety standards and create their own ‘miner’s rights’ that they enforce internally because it’s the only way they can get the best talent to work for them. If they don’t, they can’t compete and they go out of business.
More than once, while recruiting people to M*, the first thing they say to me is “I disagree with your politics.” I’m not surprised. I am, without a doubt, the black sheep politically. On the other hand, when Joanna first met me at M* she wanted to know if I was some sort of right wing political nut. I assured her that no one would mistake me for a right wing political nut.
I’m sometimes not even sure what I am. I once told Geoff that I’m ‘politically agnostic.’ But, of course, that’s not really true either since I’m quite passionate about what political beliefs I do hold. Is there such a thing as a politically partial agnostic?
Most of the time I just tell people I’m a moderate conservative and leave it at that. My employer at work, upon hearing me label myself that way, asked “what part of your political beliefs are conservative?” On the other hand, I’ve had a number of conversations with John C at BCC and I’ll bet he’s wondering what part of my political beliefs are liberal.
I really don’t think my political views are that hard to pin down, I just think they aren’t quite within the ‘norm.’ But isn’t that sort of true of everyone’s political beliefs? Is there anyone out there that says of themselves “yeah, I pretty much don’t think for myself, I just go with the party line.” Even if it were true, no one would admit it.
Some LDS proponents of Socialism like to compare capitalism to the infamous Gadianton Robbers in the Book of Mormon. It seems a simple line to draw between the “Profit Motive” of Capitalism and the secret combination of the Gadiantons to “get gain.” Too simple in fact. A more careful reading shows that in some ways the Gadianton Robbers seem to be more like Marxist Revolutionaries.
Chapter 3 of the book of 3rd Nephi in the Book of Mormon is interesting in that it is one of the few sections of the text which purports to give us a glimpse of how the Gadianton Robbers viewed themselves, rather than how they were viewed by Mormon and his Nephite protagonists. Verses 2 through 10 are the record of an epistle written to the governor of the Nephites, Lachoneus, from the leader of the Gadianton Robbers, Giddianhi:
Wally: I’m Wally Cronkquist and that popping noise you just heard ring round the world is the sound of 250 million corks simultaneously celebrating the passage of the Truth in Politics Act. Only two years ago the controversial “Referendum Amendment” passed, allowing individual citizens the right to create their own bills and put them on a national voting ballot. The Truth in Politics Act is the first use of this new process.
With me is Chuck Sneadman, political professor from Harvard, here to explain the new law.
Chuck: Well, Wally, it’s quite simple, really. From this point forward, all politicians are required to receive a chip implanted in their brain that gives them an electric shock every time they try to either lie or spin the truth. At last all political problems will be solved because only honest politicians will stay in power!