Monday, October 06, 2014
Advice to a New Citizen
I have a new friend. At least, I think she is my friend. She is involved in local politics although, as a recent immigrant, she is not yet a citizen and entitled to vote in State and National elections. Her involvement is that she is a member of a "Neighborhood Council" here in Los Angeles. Members of the governing boards of Neighborhood Councils don't receive any stipend for their services. They do get to vote on how to spend the money the city gives each neighborhood council each year.
Anyway, my friend talked to me one day about her political future, or, more specifically, which political party should she join? What could I say? I am a liberal Democrat and I think that Republicans have some beliefs that I can not abide. She asked, what would I think of her if she decided to join the Republican Party? I told her that I considered her to be a friend and that friends are not perfect, but they are still friends. Her party affiliation would not affect our friendship. Of course, I probably wouldn't vote for her if she ran as a Republican.
She presented the argument that one should vote for the person and not for the party. I agreed, but then pointed out that the party often provides money to candidates running for office and the party expects a return for that support after the candidate has won election. Thus, Republicans are obliged to vote for certain "Republican" things, such as "Repeal Obamacare" or "Impeach the President." Democrats are also under an obligation to their party to vote for certain "Democratic" things.
I then tried to adopt the pose of a civics teacher and summarized what I think are the differences between Republican ideals and Democratic ideals. Here is what I said:
- Republicans desire a society in which everyone takes care of himself. The government shouldn't take care of people. Government should only maintain order, defend the nation against invasion, and maintain a stable currency. Republicans also favor low taxes and reduced services from government.
- Democrats also desire a free society in which everyone is free to make his own mistakes. However, government should do those things for the people which the people can not do for themselves. (This saying is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President.) Democrats also favor increasing services from government and levying the taxes needed to pay for them.