Monday, January 25, 2010

The "purity" test

Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain has taken a lot of flak ever since she started playing a more active role in public political discussions.

Ms. McCain considers herself a Republican, and has called for the GOP to be more inclusive and more moderate with some of its stances. Recognizing homosexual civil rights, including marriage equality for same-sex couples, is one of these issues that she is very passionate about. For this, and for calling out some of the demagogues of the party, she has been denigrated as (among other things) a RINO — Republican In Name Only.

Ms. McCain had been slated to give a speech at George Washington University. A group of Young Republicans at the college has withdrew their support of her speaking at the university given her advocacy of same-sex marriage. Predictable enough...

Ms. McCain recently pointed out in at an article at The Daily Beast, that some in the Republican party have proposed a literal litmus test for Republicans. As a long list of moderates being elbowed out of the party can attest, the Republicans have already had a virtual litmus test in place for years. This test, however, would be a bit more official.

While it is doubtful the test would ever actually be used, {apparently even John McCain and Ronald Reagan wouldn't have passed} still, the concept of it is telling. Imagine, a purity test, of sorts. If you can't pass the test (yes on 8 out of 10 questions), then you shouldn't be in the GOP. Or at least, the GOP shouldn't endorse you, give you money and Republicans shouldn't vote for you.

Brown-shirt tactics? You betcha!

Ms. McCain, while opposing such a test, decided to take it. She got 8, though 2 were yes/no.

I decided I'd give it a go, too. As a progressive-minded independent who is generally written-off as a liberal Democrat by people who only see in colors of blue and red and prefer operating under assumptions rather than examining one's actual stance, I was curious to see where I would come out on the G.O.P. purity test...

First of all, the test is very poorly constructed. It's too generalized in some areas, too narrow in others. It's also petty in determining whether one sides with President Obama or not. It suggests that siding with a Democratic President should disqualify you as a good Republican, but it also incorrectly attributes some programs, like health-care, as President Obama's invention. Last time I checked, the health-care bills were designed by the House and the Senate, not the White House... But then this is a partisan test, so who's counting?

All the same, the test made it difficult to say a definitive yes or no on several questions. I don't know who wrote the test, but it really kind of summed up the small-mindedness behind modern Republican conservatism.

So, I did my best. Had a few half yes, half no answers and came up with a 7 yes. So, I'm not a Republican, SURPRISE! But, apparently, I'm not a flaming liberal either.

1. Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill?

That's at least 4 separate questions. Too vague. I support smaller government in some respects, but also support some government programs, regulations, etc. I strongly support a smaller national debt and lower deficits. Taxes should be lowered in some areas, raised in others. I do not support the 'Stimulus' bill passed in 2009, but not so much out of principle but out of the particulars of the bills... So even though I probably disagree with conservative philosophy regarding small government, due to a seriously flawed question, this would be a yes.

2. Market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare?

Two questions. I am opposed to a government-run, universal health-care system. I am strongly supportive of sweeping health-care reform, both government and private sector solutions. So, again, due to a poorly thought-out question, this is yes & no.

3. Market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation?

Ditto to the previous. Yes, I support market-based solutions, I also know that without government taking a lead and placing some mandates on corporations, there will be no significant market-based solutions implemented. So, no.

4. Workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check?

Yes. I'm a firm believer in a secret ballot process, whether at the voting booth or the union meeting. Anonymity allows people to make decisions without fear of retribution.

5. Legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants?

Yes. I'm all for controlled, legal immigration. I'm strongly opposed to illegal immigration, opposed to amnesty for those who entered and remain in the country illegally, and while I believe in cultural diversity, I also understand the importance for a society to have a common culture and common language.

6. Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges?

I despise the false dichotomy that one either supports “victory” {troop surges} or “failure” {cut & run}. I also despise lumping the justified war — Afghanistan, with the unjustified war — Iraq. It would be nice to know what the Republican definition of “victory” is here... I opposed the surge in Iraq because I opposed the entire justification for the war. The surge was successful however. I strongly support the surge in Afghanistan. Ultimately, I would have to say yes.

7. Containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat?

I don't support saber rattling and a bombing blitz, but I do support containment. And if there were a genuine threat of a nuclear weapons program that posed a verifiable threat to the U.S. or the region, I would support neutralizing those threats.

8. Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act?

Absolutely not! Never should have been law; should be repealed ASAP.

9. Protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion?

Here we go again, 3 questions in one and a contradiction. Yes, I oppose health-care rationing, whether the government does it or that being done by private insurance companies today. Yes, I oppose denial of health-care, even though I also oppose government funding of abortion, which would, in a sense, be denial of health-care... I'm also pro-choice, but I can honestly answer this question with a yes.

10. The right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership?

What an absurd generality. As if even the Republican party opposes all government restrictions on gun ownership... Children & felons being able to purchase, own and use firearms without restriction. Seriously? I support fairly open but limited gun ownership. So, yes/no?

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