Politics Make Strange Bedfellows

I’ve been thinking a lot about the expression “politics make strange bedfellows,” because it sure seems that a lot of people are finding themselves in strange company, myself included.

I have a few core political/ethical values that I believe in, which have guided my political participation more than any particular party affiliation:

I believe every person should have the right and ability to lead their lives in the way that is most fulfilling to them. Everything else follows from this.

I believe that every person should have access to education or whatever services can help them achieve that fulfillment. We always talk about providing everyone with a “level playing field” as essential to opportunity in America, so we should be serious about this.

I believe that the main point of government is the social contract, and the exercise of our reason to create systems to help each other in times of misfortune, and to improve the quality of life for everyone. Machiavelli and Marx both wrote that main aim of politics should be to compensate for what Machiavelli called “fortuna.”

I believe that we should all essentially be decent to each other, and compassionate, especially if we claim to be “Christians.”

I hate bullies and thugs of all stripes, because I and mine have suffered. to the point of death, at their hands.

These beliefs have generally led to me to affiliate myself with Democrats, especially once anti-LGBT policies and scapegoating became the way that Republicans would rally their troops on election day. When politics is reduced to blaming scapegoats for the ills of society, rather than addressing structural causes, it is clearly a politics that aims to elevate some at the expense of others. I had some flirtations with libertarianism and anarcho-syndicalism in my youth, but I also grew weary of utopian fantasies that never led to actual political change.

I think trying to implement beliefs into policy, and policy into politics, is complex, and so I judge specific policies against how closely I think they hew to my beliefs.This has led to some political decisions that were in contradiction to those of many of my friends — I supported gay marriage when almost everyone else I knew was “philosophically” opposed, because if two gay men think that getting married is important to their lives, they should be able to do that. Same for gays in the military.

Those experiences led me to discover that there are people on the “right,” whatever that means anymore, with whom I could have contentious discussions about how policies could best be enacted, while still having some agreement on the core beliefs behind them. I’ve been reminded of that this week, as my Facebook feed has exploded, and I have been leaving rapid-fire comments all across the shrapnel.

Here’s what I now believe: if you share my core beliefs, I don’t care if you call yourself a Republican, a Libertarian, a Democrat, or a Whig, I am happy to call you an ally, and argue over implementation later. This is the time when everyone who believes in the humanity of one’s fellow man must come together, to form the defense that we will need against the forces that are rising, and to build the future that we want. I will be happy to march under any flag that represents those things.