Politics and Me

For a new writer, expressing political views of any kind is probably the third rail of building a platform; you’re liable to irritate or outright chase away a good fraction of your readership in one or two sentences. You may even offend an agent, a publisher or a potential freelance client before you even get the chance to pitch to them. Turning a blog about writing and personal stuff, into a place for misguided rants, is a dangerous step.

So I’ll try not to do that.

But on the other hand, I am a citizen of the United States, (with strong ties to Canada), and also a resident of this planet we call Earth, and because of that, I have a certain stake in what is going on around me. I can’t just hope that someone else helps to convince people not to follow some idiot off a cliff. If I see the edge coming, I should shout a warning or two.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that politics and social issues also make great fodder for a consistent blogger. There have been times where I’ve written up blogs in my head and discarded them because they were political. I didn’t want to go there yet. But in a US election year, when there is just so much good material begging to be discussed, it’s extremely hard to resist. That said, this particular blog post has been in ‘edit’ state for over 5 months, a result of both my desire to be careful with what I say, and the illness that has precluded me from writing much of anything the last few months.

Before I begin posting on any specific issue though, I thought I’d go through a bit of my personal history, and where I stand in general, in the political spectrum these days.

I grew up in a Catholic family on a small farm in Canada, in a pretty conservative region of Ontario. But by eighth grade, I was already questioning the whole religion thing, and by college, I had completely lapsed. Now I would at least consider myself an agnostic, leaning heavily towards the atheist side of the house. Religion, however, is an entirely different blog post, except that it does greatly impact the political process in the US.

Politically, back in the 80’s, had I been in the US and been old enough to vote, I would have voted for Reagan, mainly because I thought all the US military hardware was pretty cool. I was a teenager during the Top Gun / Rambo years and the media did a pretty good job of conditioning the young to accept that particular view of the world. Through my teenage years, and into early adulthood, I remained moderately conservative.

But in the last fifteen years, I have definitely slewed more liberal in many of my beliefs. Or perhaps the right has moved more right, and I’ve stayed where I was. I’m not a full-on leftist—I’m somewhere in the center-left. I like to call it being a common-sense liberal—which is probably something the right-leaning side of the world thinks is an oxymoron.

That said, in order to understand my view on my place in the political-social spectrum, it’d probably help to understand exactly what I think defines the spectrum. Below is a slightly tongue-in-cheek set of definitions. I say, slightly, because I realize this is a very serious subject, and I don’t want to completely disregard the importance of the political and social debate in this country. I also want to say that this definition only works in the US, and possibly in Canada these days. What is considered a conservative in France may be what a conservative here calls a leftist.

So, with all of those disclaimers, here are my definitions of the points of both the political and social spectrum.

  • Fiscal Liberals
    • Believe it’s ok to spend other peoples money for the good of all
    • Believe that large corporations are, by nature, criminals that just haven’t been caught yet
    • Believe that all capitalists are evil
  • Fiscal Conservatives
    • Believe it’s ok to spend other people’s money, as long as it benefits me
    • Believe that large corporations are, by nature, honest and that the market keeps them that way
    • Believe that an objection to capitalism is equivalent to treason
  • Social Liberals
    • Believe freedom means that you are free to do anything that doesn’t hurt others
  • Social Conservatives
    • Believe freedom means that you are free to do all the things I think are ok

So when, in the future, I discuss politics, and generalize about liberals or conservatives, I do so with those definitions in mind. It’s quite likely that this over-simplification will bite me in the ass at some point in the future. I’m 100% sure it will, actually. I will offend some people. I will present an opinion that turns out to not be supported by fact. I will encounter someone who is better informed and more eloquent than I can ever hope to be, and they will put me in my place. I will encounter trolls who are probably not better informed, and far less eloquent, who will require hours of my time moderating comments.

But I can no longer just sit back in fear of speaking my mind on topics that are important to me, my family, my country and my world. When needed, I will voice my opinions here. Hopefully more good than bad will come of it. Time will tell.

For those of you who come here for other kinds of blog posts, don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a daily soapbox/rant thing. It’ll be an occasional thing. There will still be book reviews (when I can read again on a regular basis), and writing updates, and family stuff. Now there will just be a little more diversity in the topics. I hope that there’s a little something for everyone here, and that people appreciate that it is important for me to be able to express all of my thoughts and concerns, whether you agree with my beliefs or not.

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