As readers of this blog may have guessed, I’m not in the “pure” category when it comes to being a liberal. I call myself a “pragmatic liberal,” because while I’m generally liberal, I also have a strong pragmatic streak. I said a year ago:
What that means is that I will always go with “what works” over an impractical solution, or take what is achievable for now versus doing without anything in the vague hope that “the perfect” will somehow happen.
Even aside from pragmatic, I sometimes have some other stances that aren’t really “liberal.” What are they?
I really don’t have a problem with the existence of the death penalty. Having said that, I do have a problem with the number of cases that it gets used as penalty, and how they’re tried. The Troy Davis case is a good example of that. There was serious doubt as to whether he actually committed the crime. There were serious flaws that, in any objective sense, should have caused a commutation to a life sentence at the very least. There have been a number of other cases like it, where the accused has received incompetent representation, police and prosecutorial misconduct, flawed evidence, and a host of other problems. All of which throw a very poor light on the criminal justice system, and with those, a lot of questions about the appropriateness of the death penalty. But there are certain crimes, a small number, that I think it’s an appropriate penalty for. No, I don’t think it prevents anyone from committing them, that the deterrence argument is bullshit. But I’m not going to be upset if someone who does commit them gets put to death. I’m fine with that, just because I think the world is a better place without that person in it. My belief is that it should be used only as a penalty where not only does the crime fall into one of those limited circumstances, there is absolutely no doubt that the person actually committed it. Those cases aren’t very common, and even then, I believe the accused should have the best representation possible.
I think it’s a good idea to review regulations and government programs on occasion. But it always seems that someone on one side of the political spectrum or the other has heart attacks when something like that is announced. It can be social programs, which will set the liberals afire, or defense programs which get the conservatives in a frenzy. For whatever reason, it has become a sacred cow. I’d rather look at any program with the idea of the original goal in mind to determine whether it’s working or not, and make a decision based on that. If it doesn’t work, it’s no longer necessary, or it needs changes, then it should be gotten rid of or changed. If it’s working fine, leave it alone. The same for regulations. Some are obsolete, some are unnecessary (really), some have the opposite effect from what was intended, and some aren’t accomplishing their purpose. That means getting rid of some, changing others, or developing (gasp!) new ones .
I don’t have any problem with people being wealthy. Bill Gates? Heck, he started a company, and is now worth billions. Good for him. I’m not even against corporations. There’s a reason they exist, and some very useful things about them. Same thing for banks. Stomping around screaming about “corporatists” and so on doesn’t exactly move me. That said, I do have some issues with behavior, as well as an inability to recognize that with that wealth and the useful things, there’s a set of societal responsibilities that go along with it. I’m also not too fond of people who portray themselves as “self-made” when the reality is that they inherited a good percentage of what they have. Let’s face it, if you were born on third base, not only did you not hit a triple, it’s a heck of a lot easier to get to home base than to start off in the on deck circle.
I fail to be terribly upset by the deaths of Osama bin Laden, Muammar Ghaddafi, and Anwar al-Awlaki. While it might have been nice to bring them all to trial, that they didn’t get one because they were killed instead doesn’t particularly bother me. I’m rather glad they’re dead, and I’m not losing any sleep about the “how”.
Even though I work in the environmental field, and I have degrees in it, I’m not always particularly fond of some environmental activists. Telling me that you want to preserve a pristine old growth forest is fine, but you might want to check first to see if it’s actually an old growth forest. Because if you had, you’d have realized it’s second growth. Advocate against cell phone towers? Great, but stop complaining that your cell phone doesn’t work when you’re here. When you’re waxing rhapsodical about the “untamed wilderness experience” of paddling on a lake, it might behoove you before saying that to realize the lake in question is artificial. Yes, I agree snowmobiles are noisy and burn fossil fuels. I also know that they pay for their trails – which you use in the summer – and put a lot of money into the local economy in the winter. Unless you’re willing to replace that, it’s hard to get behind your efforts to ban them.
I sometimes think that a voter test isn’t a bad thing. Seriously, everyone should know what the branches of government are, and what each one does, in order to vote. I’m fine with remedial training for that, but there’s increasing evidence that a lot of people have no clue about it. That’s particularly true if they’re citing the Constitution as justification for their stand, because most of the time they’re wrong. If not that, then we should make every major media outlet pundit take – without preparation or warning – the same citizenship exam we give to immigrants wanting to become citizens. They don’t have to pass, but their score would be posted every time they appear.
I consider Hugo Chavez a dictator, not a socialist hero. Aside from being paranoid, he hasn’t done much to improve the economy , restricted free speech, and had to use troops to combat violent crime. That’s besides the lack of a succession plan and suppression of dissent. So mostly his “socialist paradise” looks just like a lot of other dictatorships.
I’ve been a scientist. That’s why I have scant use for global warming deniers, creationists, and those who don’t acknowledge that we have limits when it comes to resources. I also have scant use for those who are anti-vaccines, those who knee-jerk against genetically modified crops, and those who come up with “traditional medicine” woo and conspiracy theories about them.