Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Me and the Constitution Party

This is a letter I sent to a friend recently about the Constitution Party. Note that a lot of my political thinking has been influenced by Jim Wallis.:

So, I wanted to finally explain my issues with the Constitution Party. I finally had a chance to look into them again to make sure I was basing my opinion on the facts and not on any preconceived notions and it really just comes down to me disagreeing with their approach to certain issues. Here's a list I'll try to keep short.

  1. The Constitution - The strongest point of this party is adherence to the Constitution. I totally agree that we get in danger when we outright ignore or possibly even worse, try to reinterpret the Constitution to suit our needs. However, the party is also strongly touting it's Biblical influence. I find it dangerous that they hold the Constitution so highly. It's like they want it both ways: they want to be a Christian party but don't want the government to specifically address our Christian calling. We have to be good Christians unless it steps on the toes of the Constitution. Also, yes, our country was founded by Christians...but our country was founded by Christians who were also notorious for persecuting others.
  2. Immigration - The party supports limitations on immigration that I can't support. I think we should open our arms to anyone seeking refuge (as long as they don't provide an imminent threat to our safety). Strict immigration laws do not make that possible. I can understand the immigration view that opposes mine...but I think this country's history of xenophobia has to end because we were all immigrants at some point!
  3. Environment - They are global warming detractors. You know how I feel about that.
  4. The Role of Government - A lot of these issues can be summed up in our difference of opinion on the role of the US Government in the world and in the lives of its people. I strongly believe in the right to privacy, the right to property, the right to be left alone, etc. But I also can't support a party who wants to take money out of the hands of the poor and say, "Hey, churches, you deal with it!" If the churches had been doing their job in protecting the poor and widows, we wouldn't need welfare. This party focuses too much on lessening the power of the federal government. (This was one of the big issues that led to the Civil War: The South wanted the state governments to hold more power, while the Union was pro-federal government.) I believe that too much state power leads to an even bigger break down in the cohesion of our country. I also believe that as a strong, wealthy country, it is our obligation to be involved in foreign affairs. I don't think we've currently been doing it correctly...but to say that the government should maintain a separatist attitude and that charity should be left to the charities is a highly naive and dangerous assertion on their part. If I am a Christian and a politician and I assert that my Christian morals influence my policy making, then I believe that means that I should support policies that protect and help every single person on this planet. The party touts that it is important to protect Americans and American interests (only)...

Clarification: I am not saying that the US Government should assert any sort of moral authority over anyone or tell anyone how he or she should live or tell any nation how it should govern (except in instances in which that nation's peoples are suffering). The US Government does not speak for God.

But quotes that expound on my opinions:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is a nation approaching spiritual bankruptcy." -Martin Luther King, Jr

"[U]ntil all the children who died from hunger on September 11 are as important to us as those who died on terrorist attacks, we will not be safe or secure." -Jim Wallis

That quote and following quote all related to this idea that as long as our neighbor is not safe, we are not safe. I am also using both to highlight my views on a separatist government that focuses only on defense and trade and does not get involved in other foreign issues or concerns.

"[D]istance can no longer decide who is our neighbor. We can't choose our neighbors anymore. We can't choose the benefits of globalization without some of the responsibilities, and we should remind ourselves that 'love thy neighbor' is not advice: it is a command."

While I agree that the US has too much become a sort of global police, I don't think withdrawing from the UN or NATO is going to change that. I think that this role is change when we stop trying to control the UN and NATO. We can be involved in the rest of the world without trying to rule the rest of the world. Unfortunately, like it or not, we are the most powerful nation in the world and that comes with responsibility to our global neighbors. Unless they are safe, then the money and property this party is so desperately trying to hold on to will also never be safe.

Obviously, at the end of the day, I respect your views and opinions on these matters. A lot of times politics is just a differing view on how to solve the same problem. I guess now I've stated my disagreement with their problem-solving method.


Anonymous said...

1. I'm a little confused on this matter. All sub-classifications of Christians have those that oppressed and those that were truly Christians. All the founders at that time, if not til their deaths, were CHristians, and some insisted and all agreed on religious freedom. They were brilliant in that respect and worthy of admiration. If by oppressed you mean slavery, well then only some of those founding fathers believed it not to be an 'infamous practice'. The others tolerated a union with slavery legalized because without it, they could neither reach any other goal, nor affect change in the abolition movement.
2. Sounds good to me.
3. I'd want to know what you mean by 'detractor' but it sounds like it's b.s.
4. How in the name of Jeebus did you reach the conclusion that the weakening of the federal government is what caused the civil war? I know you 'explained' it...but there was always powerful state governments as originally designed. Every interpretation of those events in the U.S.'s first 80 years I've ever heard or read describe the growing power of the federal government as the major source of contention for the southern states? To move on to a separate issue...pun intended...separating from the world community does not help things. We may not need police the world, but we cannot deny we are one of it's most important and influential players........

The only true thing of consequence that I seem to disagree with you on...strongly disagree I might add...okay, I just realized I don't necessarily disagree with you on it, but you seem to be sending a message with the tone and that tone I disagree with. Yes, if states had all the power and the federal government was the equivalent of a anorexic dwarf, then the united states would fall apart. You say that like that would happen in a million years and that the power of the state governments haven't been reduced dramatically over the past century and a half. I don't disagree with you, but that's like saying that if we don't continue killing cows they will overpopulate the earth and turn on us a la 'Planet of the Apes'. We're doing just fine on the cow-killing. Yum.

Menstruation Nation said...

1. There were actually sects of Christianity and those who were non-Christian who were ostracized and stigmatized by those in charge. This was probably a bigger problem pre-Constitution, but my point is that the founding fathers were just as flawed as people as we are, despite this nice government system they've created. Also, about slavery, my obvious response to that is William Wilberforce. I am not trying to vilify our past leaders. I just want to avoid their deification and saying that while we should avoid altering the foundations of our country, we should not assume that they are perfect as they stand.
3. Total b.s.
4. My wording may be confusing. The weakening of the federal government didn't lead to the Civil War. But on of the reasons the Southern states seceded was because they wanted states to have the right to make illegal federal law. I'm not saying that the states should have no power...I think the balance of power between state and federal government is very important...but the Constitution Party is a party of extremes, despite the fact that it doesn't necessarily seem so by those who already lean a little to the Right. I'm not saying that if the Constitution Party had its way we'd be in another Civil War, but I'm saying that I believe in some things being controlled by the federal government as a means of maintaining some sort of cohesion in our sprawl of a country, and to maintain the spirit of liberty and freedom that our forefathers intended.

Anonymous said...

1. I think I, above most people, have advocated the humanization of the founding fathers. For me, it only glorifies their actual achievements when we realize how flawed they were. Allowing to slavery to remain does little to impress when it is done by gods. I am not for the deification of the founding fathers. But neither would I want them ever described as 'notorious', or at the very least 'notorious' without qualifications or clarifications. I know, I know, I'm a stickler for language, but it's the only way true communication can exist. Getting back to your original post, What do you mean by they don't want to the government to address our Christian calling. I'm simply confused about both what your'e saying about them, and your opinion towards it.

3. I'll have to take your word for it.
4. It seems we agree in theory, but the devil is in the details. I responded to your post because I don't feel I have a party and wanted to see what how me and the problems you have with the party compare. Organizations that are for a cause have a 'notorious' habit of being unreasonably in favor of that cause. i.e. I do believe that the 2nd Amendment is necessary and I would never repeal it. That doesn't mean I'm a member of the NRA. So it's entirely possible I agree with you on disagreeing with their details, but until I understood exactly where along that scale everyone stood, I couldn't pretend like I agreed truly with anyone on anything...which is why I'm going to be a politician. (But I will say that I think the federal govenrment does too much weight in our current date and time and would like to see the states take a more active role; for more local governments to take matters locally and stop trying to control every other state's laws as well, when they don't need to be applied to them. IF that makes me inherently on their side, I apologize, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em.)