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Opinion, please: what makes you…

… call yourself a Democrat or a Republican?

I’ve been thinking about this party label thing and wondering how others get to the point of choosing sides when it comes to party identification. (Here is a recent Gallup survey on party ID for the country.) It’s a question I’d love to pose to elected D’s and R’s who vote against so-called “party lines” on a regular basis.  It also comes to mind when I think of the increasing polarization of the electorate. (A couple of articles on this here and here.)

More than anything, though, it is my conversations with people who have knee-jerk reactions to the party labels – and all the baggage that each entail – that makes me wonder what specific thing makes them identify with one party over the other. The world’s smallest political quiz doesn’t identify parties. While polarization has increased, I have personally witnessed a number of people who consider themselves conservatives rather than Republicans, or progressives rather than Democrats. Plus we have those folks in the middle – most often referred to as RINOs or DINOs. Personally, I’ve come to refer to them as homeless, because in today’s environment, they don’t fit anywhere.

Being a social liberal and a fiscal conservative makes me left of center. I recall a conversation I had years ago with a former mayor of Norfolk who told me that I had to pick a side. Being a three-fer, the Democratic Party more closely represents my core beliefs.

So my question, dear readers, is what specifically makes you call yourself a Democrat or Republican? (Or independent or Libertarian or …)

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28 thoughts on “Opinion, please: what makes you…

  1. I’m a solid libertarian. While I don’t agree with the party on everything, the Libertarian Party is closer to more of my position than any other party. Of the two major parties, the Republicans’ platform (not to say anything about the individual officeholders — who spout the Party line to get elected and then go Big Government Rambo on me) is closer to my positions than is the Democrats’.

  2. I am a neoconservative who is moderate on social issues and also fiscally conservative. National defense/foreign policy has ALWAYS been my top issue, and everything else I’ve just come to my own conclusions on. So, on most issues, I’m closer to the Republican Party than the Democrat Party.

    (calm down. I did that just to irk you. :) )

  3. Love the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. I even come out the same each time I take it, though there are some answers that are sometimes maybe and sometimes something else.

    It has me a Centrist with Libertarian leanings, which if I had to describe myself I would use Libertarian as the “party” though I don’t think it a viable “party”.

    I dislike both parties, mainly for the people in them. I lean left socially, lean right on spending issues. I like to say I could be a Republican, if only they would be. The members of the party see things as black or white, at least the more vocal members. Gray is my favorite political color.

    I don’t think I could be a member of any party because there is so much in each that makes no sense to me. So I will stay Independent if I have to have a capital letter next to my name.

  4. Honestly and with no insult intended at anyone who either considers himself a Republican or frequently votes with Republicans: I personally started identifying as a Democrat largely because identifying as a Republican would personally be anathema to me. The loudest and most-outspoken Republicans tend to be the ones who want to villainize other people or groups — whether that’s gays or blacks or women or Muslims or whatever. I personally don’t believe that the greatest threat to America and the American way of life is other Americans. I love America, and not just part of it. I don’t wish to associate myself politically with people who are fickle with their patriotism.

    Libertarians and I ideologically would get along more often than we wouldn’t, probably; the crux of our only real ideological disagreement would be my belief that leadership matters. People sometimes make irrational or outright-stupid decisions, or else they opt to make no decision and assume that collectively other people will make the decision for them. They lubricate with sea-water blow-out preventers that ought to be lubricated with more-expensive mineral oil because what’s the worst that can happen? They race to sell sub-prime loans to borrowers who can’t afford them because that’s the sort of thing that the group-think believes is a brilliant idea.

    And that’s fine when you’re only doing stupid things that affect you, but when your stupidity starts spilling over into the lives of others, leadership matters. If you want to drink a fifth of gin in your living room on a Sunday morning, it’s a free country. If you get in your car and speed through your neighborhood blind-drunk, then you ought to be arrested.

    • The Libertarian Party also believes that those who make the stupid decisions should pay the price. People who are too stupid to take advantage of the free education they are given should not be supported by the government. Those who are too stupid to save for their retirement should not be supported by the government. Those who are too stupid to keep their technical skills up to date in this society should not be supported by the government. On the corporate level, companies that make stupid decisions should fail, no matter how big they are.

      On the flip side, those who DO make good decisions should not be punished for it.

  5. I think it is becoming increasingly embarrassing for people to identify with either major party. The partisan rancor in Washington has become a “gotcha” show. The way bills are put together ( stimulus, health care ) are appalling- thousands page bills which no one voting on them have even read- with unintended consequences and waste galore. The Republicans in power had us in wars and spent foolishly. Ditto the Democrats. Do any of us consider the Gingriches, Pelosis, McConnells, and Reids to be great thinkers and honest brokers? The party that sets us on a path of fiscal sustainability, which will go a long way in fixing our economy, will get my support. We’re broke, and it’s time we get our own house in order. As of now, color me Independent.

  6. I used to be with the Republicans. I believed the Party mantra about liberty, less government and personal responsibility.

    During the Bush regime, I was unable to find a single member of our local Henrico Republican Party who would condemn, or speak against Bush’s domestic spying, or torture. Even elderly women on the Committee told me that government spying and torture were OK with them, because they trusted Bush. When I told them that precedents set by Bush could later be cited by other Presidents whom they might not trust, their typical response was that they would just take that chance.

    Such is the road to tyranny.

    Now those same Republicans are ranting that Obama is a socialist and is exercising too much presidential power.

    Today’s Democratic Party has waged war against White Men since the 1960s. The Democrats used to be for the, “Working Man.” Now, the Democratic Party appears to be the Gay, Feminist, Black, Trial Lawyer and Union, coalition.

    Instead of catering to just the fringe elements, Democrats should capitalize on the LIBERTY vacuum left in the wake of the Bush regime.

    The one thing that the Democrats have to offer (other than NOT being Republicans) is that the Party sometimes actually takes a principled stand on the Constitution.

    Defending our Constitution provides a welcome place for Libertarians and Independents to work in concert with the Democrats to roll back the tyranny imposed by the Bush Neocons, and build a future where ALL citizens will have a chance for success, based not on their gene pool of origin, but on their own talent and motivation.

    If the Democratic Party would end the “War on White Men” and instead promote a merit based society with equality and justice for all citizens, the Democratic Party, here in Virginia, could forge an invincible coalition that would be as welcoming to traditional families, as it would be to citizens who live in non-traditional communities.

    Americans nearly experienced the suspension of our Constitution under Bush. Our citizens must NEVER again trust the Republican Party with the leadership of our nation; NEVER AGAIN!

    • I’ll certainly agree with you about Bush. I strongly opposed his “Faith-Based Initiative” on similar grounds. He’d let the fish happily gobble that bait, and some other president would set the hook. Catholic Charities would be getting a big chuck of our tax dollars, and 0bama would be forcing them to hire open homosexuals or have their funding cut.

      I haven’t seen Obama shut down Gitmo yet. I haven’t seen him stop the domestic spying. Pelosi wants to investigate the TEA Party activists.

      • So far the Obama team has caused the DOJ to conduct an audit of the Bush regime’s domestic enemies’ list.

        Audit 9-25 revealed that the DOJ had 1.2 million Americans listed as enemies of the Bush administration. Of those, about 125,000 were on the list without any substantiating documents, while those with documents were of dubious nature.

        Obama’s team has yet to publish any means by which a citizen can find out if they are on the list, or if a procedure of appeal will be forthcoming.

        I expect that we will find that the Bushies used the 9/11 farce as an excuse to hammer political opponents and just about anyone deemed as potentially disloyal or questioning Bush’s methods or motivations.

        Never again trust the Republicans with the reigns of power for our nation!

        • “Farce”? Don’t tell me you think Bush was behind that, too?!

          Anyway, please provide a citation for your 9-25 audit assertion. I’d like to read more about that.

          • Audit 9-25. That IS the reference.

            The longer way to write it is:

            U. S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Audit Report 09-05, May 2009

            If you still can’t find it on the web, send me an email and I will send you a copy as a pdf.

  7. In my case, it was personal history. I considered myself independent until I looked at my personal history and realized I had only voted for two Republicans in 30 years (Larry Coughlin in Pa. and Bill Roth in Del.).

    So I came out and got my party card.

    Then the Bill Clinton impeachment farce and Bush’s selling of the country to the highest bidder turned me into an activist.

    According to that little poll, I am “Liberal”:

    “Your PERSONAL issues Score is 90%. Your ECONOMIC issues Score is 20%.”

    Pretty accurate.

    • You guys must like the word “farce.”

      The impeachment was not a farce — Clinton lied under oath. That is not in dispute. The farce was the trial, where the Senators did not even know their role under the Constitution was to determine guilt or innocence, NOT whether the particular offense “rises to the level of impeachment.” THAT is the job of the Representatives.

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  9. This is a good question. But to get back to your observation of knee-jerk reactions, shouldn’t we ask what people generally think of when they think of each party label? In this case, there is probably reliance on stereotypes for thought formulation economy. This then helps people form opinions about candidates without having to give it any additional thought. And in an age where people are just bombarded with information everyday, I would expect greater reliance on these sort of efficiency mechanisms. The same questions could be posed as to why people buy Tylenol branded acetaminophen versus a generic. I have to say I am guilty of this.

    I’m a Democrat because Republicans are generally more hostile to gay people. And I think regulation is an essential part of a fair and effective market economy. I also think we need some level of a social safety net. Those are probably the key points boiled down, but obviously it is more complex than that because I could be living across the river in Maryland but I choose not to.

  10. I turned 18 in 1972 and the first voting machine lever I pulled was for Richard Nixon. To an extent, I’ve been trying to atone for that ever since. (Note: my father and both older brothers are Vietnam veterans. That strongly affected my vote at the time.)

    A decade later, Ronald Reagan’s administration cured me of any remaining interest in the Republican Party. There was the constant beating up on minorities and the poor. There was the concerted attempt to push religion down people’s throats, combined with the rejection of science when it conflicted with theology or profit. There was the insistence on pushing both radical religion and pure laissez-faire capitalism at the same time with no recognition of the conflict between the two. (The GOP’s official motto really should be “Serving God and Mammon since 1854″.)

    I also had a personal interest that colored my thinking then. I was a federal employee at the time, and needless to say, it wasn’t exactly good for morale to have your bosses calling you the scum of the earth just for trying to do your job right. I was brought up to think of public service as a greater virtue than private selfishness. Silly moi.

    What I found over the years was that, despite their occasional overreaching, the Democrats were at least interested in finding systematic solutions to systemic problems. The right, on the other hand, throws up its hands and says, “God will provide; the Market will provide.” I prefer action to cowering, and that’s the fundamental reason why I’m now a Democrat.

    As for fiscal conservatism, I find that that has no real relation to the other liberal-conservative axis. There are spendthrifts, misers, and people in between. Both liberals and conservatives have equal shares of each. I understand that government can’t do everything at once, and prefer people with a sense of priorities to those who want to do everything or nothing. Again, I find no particular relation between this and other political beliefs.

  11. I am a Democrat. I am a Democrat because our party seeks to move things forward, in spite of mistakes and miss-steps on that road. We’re not looking backwards towards some impossible, and false, ideal of what things “were” during a “golden era,” we’re taking what we have now and saying, “okay, how do we do better.”

    I’m also a Democrat because our nation has been founded upon diversity of people and ideas since its inception, and the Democratic party is the only party that truly embraces that diversity. Yes, diversity IS a core value, because it’s the world and country we have, and it’s what makes us strong.

  12. While many look at politics in the same company as say religion and football, especially in the South I can tell you that the stereotypes do not always hold true. I was born to Yankees, but born here in Virginia. The only sibling born and raised here in the Commonwealth exclusively. That matters. I was raised in the midst of some trying issues like the big bussing debate in Richmond and witnessed private schools prop up all over in direct response to the issue in City Schools. Also witnessed around the same time the anexation of land in the County by the City following Civil Rights thus creating divisions. I became a Republican in the tradition of Lincoln in direct reponse to my stand and beliefs on Civil Rights. At the time, it was Republicans in my family and circle that supported the Civil Rights movement and not the Dixiecrats. In fact, most Democrats in Virginia (elected and otherwise) were not supporters of the movement and that fact festered for some time politically. Did cherished people like Harry Byrd in WV support Civil Rights at the time? Certainly not. I was raised at a time when it was the Dems who sought to obstruct, filabuster, or squash Civil Rights. It (and Hillary Clinton I believe alluded to this) would never have come about without Republicans. I believe history refers to those Dems as the Gang of 18 though in modern times they are all but forgotten and the GOP often takes it on the chin I think unjustifiably as for some reason the Dems stake claim to the Civil Rights Movement. Some of us have not forgetten.

    • The problem is that some of us Rs either don’t know the history or choose to ignore/run from it.

      Ignorance can be fixed. Willful ignorance, though, can’t.

  13. Tyler, the report is here: http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/FBI/a0925/final.pdf

    The 1.2 million number you mention does NOT appear in the report. There were 1.1 million IDENTITIES on the terrorist watchlist, but that was estimated to be about 400,000 individuals, many of whom used several different identities. There is nothing in that report to say that those people were Americans, either. Nor was their anything about “enemies of the Bush administration,” although it could be said that enemies of the United States are, by definition, enemies of the Bush administration.

    So, your claim that “Audit 9-25 revealed that the DOJ had 1.2 million Americans listed as enemies of the Bush administration” is hereby refuted.

    • You need to read more carefully, or improve your reading comprehension.

      The report starts off describing how the list contained the names of a few thousand citizens prior to the Bush regime, but then grew to 1.2 Million by the end.

      The names on the list were “domestic threats” as judged by the Bush Neocons. DOJ maintains a whole other list for suspected foreign threats.

      The point of the audit by the Obama administration was to identify just how the 1.2 MILLION names got on the list, and as you have conveniently ignored, the audit shows that about 120,000 names got on the list with either no supporting documents, or with what was seen as improper documentation.

      The really sad part of this debacle is that there is no reclama process, so a citizen can be denied a clearance, denied employment, for being on this list, yet never know, or even be given a chance to challenge some slander.

      • OK, Tyler, allow me to quote the report:

        “According to the FBI, the consolidated terrorist watchlist contained 1,183,447 known or suspected international and domestic terrorist identity records as of December 31, 2008.40″

        NOT Americans, Tyler. Strike one.

        Now, footnote 40:

        “This number does not represent the number of individuals on the watchlist. One individual can have numerous records with each record providing information for a different identity the individual uses, such as aliases. The consolidated terrorist watchlist averages just over two records per individual watchlisted. According to a TSC estimate, as of September 9, 2008, the total number of unique individuals on the watchlist was approximately 400,000.”

        400,000 individuals, Tyler — not 1.2 million. Strike two.

        Finally, there is nothing mentioning “Enemies of the Bush Administration.” Just terrorists. Are you implying that terrorists are NOT also enemies of the Obama administration? Strike three. You’re out.

        • How can you not see what happened at DOJ?

          The list contained names added by the Bush Neocons and the list grew to about 1.2 Million under direction of Bush’s team.

          The Audit revealed that the names on the list were frequently added without any, or with insufficient documentation.

          Then there is the fact that citizens were added with no chance of due process or reclama.

          What this means is that the Bush regime could add names of political enemies to the list in order to ensure their enemies were harassed, and that is just what they did.

          The chief problem with the Obama team is that, while they identified the problem, nobody from the Bush regime has been held accountable, nor have they provided citizens with any means to remove their names from the enemies list.

          The People should wonder about those who defend Bush’s enemies list. You just don’t get any more un-American.

          You can shove your baseball metaphor where the sun doesn’t shine, too.

          • NAMES, Tyler. Not people, not AMERICANS. The report says that is about 400,000 PEOPLE, not 1.2 million.

            Sure, the list grew. So what?

            “What this means is that the Bush regime could add names of political enemies to the list in order to ensure their enemies were harassed, and that is just what they did.”

            Where is your evidence for that accusation? Was anyone killed, like Vince Foster? Was anyone harassed, like Kathleen Willey, who believes the Clintons murdered her husband?

            Have you ever considered the possibility that the Obama team is keeping the list because those on the list are AMERICA’S enemies, not Bush’s?

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