I recently attended an event put on by the Democratic Party. I found it difficult to participate in the enthusiasm of the speakers and the crowd. Over the next few days I thought about the experience.
Why did their exuberance fail to inspire? I was vaguely concerned; do I care about their topics, their mission?
Yes, I favor progressive ideas and policies over conservative ones, generally. But why?
The answer largely resides in my values.
Peace – Deciding to take the nation to war requires a willingness to kill people who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Violence against innocents is repugnant to me, and Democratic leaders generally are more reluctant to go to war than Republicans.
Environment – This is our one planet and we should take care of it. Yes, we’ll use the resources available to thrive, but we should do so in the smartest, most efficient, least-polluting, far-sighted way feasible.
Justice – for all.
Compassion – There’s a proper role for government in providing assistance to people who need it. Not doing so isn’t just immoral, it’s divisive and destabilizing. Many Republicans seem to believe that there is no such proper role.
Complexity – very little is black and white. From military action to small business loans to environmental regulations, our actions and policies have countless ripple effects. Nothing is one simple thing, and everything is part of an ecosystem of forces and effects. Republicans seem more likely to adopt a rigid black-and-white view on many topics.
Cooperation – “we’re all better off when we’re all better off”. Cultivating peace and prosperity for all requires those with the most to give the most.
Modernity – an openness to change, scientific advances, and cultural pioneers. Government should fund basic scientific research in order to discover fundamental truths that may used for the betterment and benefit of humanity.
Government is the shared infrastructure of cooperative action at scale. It’s the legal system and roads and bridges and food safety and basic research. It’s the existence of the internet and weather data and the exploration of space. It’s cops and firemen and schools and disaster relief.
Democrats seem to understand all this, while Republicans commonly deride government in general and commonly express their enthusiasm for its dismantling at every level (except the military).
My personal ideology is left-leaning, but without strong ties to an established party. The Democratic Party clearly has the greatest potential for impact and compatibility with my values, so I’ll help them when I can.