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Archive for January, 2008

A difference between conservatives and liberals

Posted by Chance on January 24, 2008

I was having a conversation with my wife yesterday about political issues and such I had this thought. Now, I am not a liberal so I cannot say for sure what liberals are thinking, but I will venture my best guess, in an effort to understand those with different opinions. Any liberal who reads this should feel free to chime in and correct me where I’m wrong.

I think the goal of many liberal policies is to change the circumstances surrounding a person. They want to make sure that someone is given the resources to ensure that they will succeed. I think resources is the key word here. They want to make sure that the public schools are given enough funding, that they have the financial resources towards college, that housing projects are in place, etc… Liberals put emphasis on community in making sure that people are not disadvantaged with respect to other people.

Conservatives see things somewhat differently. Their focus is on opportunity, and they focus less on the resources aspect. Conservatives don’t focus on making sure everyone starts out equally, but they want a society in which someone has all the opportunity for upward mobility. Conservatives have a high belief in the power of the individual, even in tough circumstances.

Keep in mind, this is not an either/or. I’m not saying liberals have no faith in the individual and conservatives believe there is no role for the community. It is really a question of extent. The

These two philosophies seem to butt heads in the area of government programs and in the economy/business. The individual and community are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they can be competing entities.

Liberals believe that government programs are needed to help the individual be successful, whereas conservatives believe that too many government programs can actually hinder someone’s success.

In the area of business, security and opportunity struggle against each other. Liberals believe that business must be more regulated in order to provide security for the average worker. Conservatives believe that less regulated business leads to more upward mobility for the average worker.

Liberals believe in providing resources to the average individual in order to help them succeed. They want to shape the person’s environment. The conservative is less concerned with resources. They aren’t concerned so much with providing things; rather they want to remove things standing in the person’s way. Their goal is to provide an environment of freedom where more things are possible.

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments »

Okay, we agree abortion is bad, now what?

Posted by Chance on January 17, 2008

Many Christians, and for that matter non-Christians, believe that abortion is a bad thing. Many believe it is equivalent to murder. But even some of those people don’t think it should be illegal. I think many pro-choicers have good intentions. They genuinely hate abortion, but they think that either outlawing abortion would not be effective, or they want to reduce the number of abortions without condemning the women who do them.

Those are important considerations. However, one of the reasons I do believe in using government to stop abortion is simply that I see it as an issue of equal protection under the law. I believe that an unborn baby deserves the same protection as anybody else. For the most part, whatever laws we have should apply equally to all people. The foundation of liberty is that there are not classes of “lesser” persons. Yes, people attain certain rights with age, but the right to be protected from another human being is one that is not age-dependent. In fact, we take extra steps to ensure that the young and vulnerable are not exploited by the older.

Keep in mind, many people are pro-life, not because they are trying to force morality upon someone or that they want to take back the country for Christ or anything like that, they simply see it as a matter of justice. Yes, I typically harp upon the fact that government is not the solution to our problems. But the one thing government is supposed to do is to protect us from other people. I think liberals sometimes don’t understand where pro-lifers are coming from, as conservatives typically support government action concerning abortion, but support less government action in other areas, such as helping the poor.

I think this criticism is half-right. Those passionate about this issue shouldn’t focus solely on outlawing abortion, but as previous posts have shown I believe voluntary efforts are more powerful than government programs. Pro-lifers should not look to the government as the only means to support the protection of life. There are many volunteer organizations that discourage abortion and they do what they can to help out the mother in that situation. We should look to the government to provide protection for the unborn for the same reason we look to it to protect other people. At the same time, we should look to the church and other voluntary efforts to also reduce abortions and help out those in need.

Update: Neil provides one such example of an effective tool, Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

Posted in Pro-Life | 13 Comments »

Will Vince Young be another Michael Vick (as in athletics, not in felonies)

Posted by Chance on January 16, 2008

The Tennessee Titans firedtheir offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who found great success during his time with USC as their offensive coordinator.

So the burning question is this: is Chow really the problem, or is it Vince Young, the quarterback? Many sports analysts believe that Vince Young is a coach career killer, in the sense that he is not performing as well at the NFL level, and his coaches are wrongly blamed. Apparently, a similar thing happened with Michael Vick.

I am a huge Vince Young fan, as someone with ties to The University of Texas. I do believe in Young, and hopefully that belief is not solely based on my bias. Young is not your prototypical NFL quarterback; the Titans and everyone else knew that when they drafted him. Does one have to be the NFL prototype to be successful? I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

Concerning athleticism, Young and Vick are very similar. Concerning character however, I believe they are miles apart. This isn’t even about the dogfighting case. Even before that ordeal, Vick was hardly a boy scout. Young is different. There have been no off the field incidents to speak of. The closest thing is that he was suspended for a preseason game. I do believe that character helps a person develop in the NFL.

The Texas Longhorns became national champions because they developed their game around Young. The NFL is different, but it is not unreasonable to think the Titans should do the same. I’m not saying Chow did or didn’t try to do that, but NFL teams lack the virtue of patience.

Unfortunately rookie quarterbacks are thrown in right away. That is fine if teams are patient, but if they are not, an otherwise good quarterback may be considered a failed project. Time will tell if Young becomes another Vick, but I think we’ll see differently.

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Justice and Mercy

Posted by Chance on January 16, 2008

When people on the left talk about helping the poor, they often use the term social justice. I’m not sure I’m crazy about the term. Not because it’s justice that people starve, but it does imply a bit of entitlement. Also, if everything is about justice, there is no room for mercy.

Many Christians, of any political stripe, believe that the true actions that change the world are those that go beyond what is required. The problem with a highly regulated economic system is that there is less room for voluntary actions. Liberals and conservatives alike believe that charity is great. Liberals will argue that charity does not do enough, therefore more government action is needed. However, people such as myself believe that more government action pushes out private charity. I think it does so in terms of resources and also opportunities.

Concerning the resources, I’m not naive enough to believe that if only we were taxed less, more people would necessarily be generous . At the same time, however, I believe that people who are generous will be all the more so with their resources. Also, one just has to look at the math. Tax rates of 90% will leave less room for charitable donations. Heck, how would someone give their tithe (if they do the 10% – but I don’t think there is a specific number God requires) if 10% is all they have left?

Also, Christianity is all about doing beyond what is required and what is expected. When we have a system where all good deeds are required, there is less room and opportunity to do beyond what is required. There are many people who take Jesus’ commands to help the poor seriously, but they look to do so primarily through government means. Every good deed is done out of “justice”, and there is little room for mercy. Deeds that transform the world are done out of love an mercy.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Is there an evangelical center?

Posted by Chance on January 12, 2008

Jim Wallis and Ron Sider are famous names in evangelical left circles. Jim Wallis is author of God’s Politics and is part of the group Sojourners, and Sider wrote Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. The Evangelical Christian Left is a group that has been growing recently, or, maybe it is the same size but I am just now aware of it.

My problem with both is that they seem to insist that they belong to either some group in the middle or some kind of group that consists of both Republican and Democratic elements.

Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to labels, the lack of a label is not an issue, it is mislabeling. Labeling itself is not all that important. I don’t say in each post I am conservative or limited-government conservative or libertarian conservative. The beliefs are more important than what those beliefs are labeled. However, if I was to say in this blog that I am somehow a moderate or that I am even liberal that would be mislabeling. Either I would be confused or be disingenuous.

In his blog, Wallis repeats one of his famous mantras, “God is not a Republican or Democrat”. And I think the statement is true in the sense that we can’t try to fit God into our own or any other political system. But I wonder if Wallis even believes this himself. A look at his writings and his friends reveals a political agenda that is overwhelmingly Democrat. And that’s fine – that’s how they believe, but I feel that Wallis tries to portray himself and the Sojourners as something they are not. No doubt, Wallis wants the same thing that many on the Evangelical Right do. But politics is almost all about the methods, and Wallis favors those on the left.

In one of the rare instances I watch PBS, I happened to catch Bill Moyers Journal where the topic was Christians United for Israel. Moyers showed video segments of John Hagee and other conservative Christians sharing their support for Israel. Moyers had a sit down with Ron Sider, mentioned previously, and M.J. Rosenberg, Director of Policy Analysis for Israel Policy Forum. Interestingly enough, Moyers didn’t interview any of the conservative Christians he had spent so much time talking about. Sider was talking about the shift of politics within the Christian population, but he mentioned that people were moving from the Christian right to the “Evangelical Center.” From the transcript

BILL MOYERS: How many evangelicals are there in this country?

RON SIDER: Oh– you know, with different polls and different studies that say different things. But a quarter of the American voters. Eighty, 90 million people. It’s a huge segment. What’s emerging in the present time, and it’s huge in terms of change and impact, is that there’s an evangelical center emerging. You know, the stereotype was that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, you know, the religious right represented the evangelical world. They never did. But now we’ve got a– an evangelical center emerging that is much, much broader. It’s saying that faithful evangelical civic engagement must have a biblically balanced agenda. And that means you’ve gotta be concerned about sanctity of human life but also the poor. With the family but also with racial justice and creation care.

This is a sensible viewpoint, but where is this “Evangelical Center”? I have no doubt that there are some politically moderate Christians, but for the most part Christians are either primarily on the right or on the left. It is almost uncanny, but the more a Christian talks about using the government to care for the poor and needy, the more likely they are to be pro-choice. I’m not saying that should be the case, but that is the way it is, at least in my observations. People typically do embrace one side of the aisle or another. Either Sider is seeing something I’m not, or he truly thinks the “Evangelical Left” truly is the “Evangelical Center.” Based upon this article he wrote though, maybe it is the former.

I think both of these men are good people. Maybe Wallis truly believes that his political beliefs actually fall outside the Republican/Democrat dichotomy. I think his writings say otherwise. Sider could actually be correct in his view of the emergence of an “Evangelical Center.” It’s just not anything I’m seeing. It could be that the political landscape leaves no choice but to latch on to one part or the other. But I tend to think that people cling to one side or the other for the same reason we have the emergence of the two parties we do. There are fundamental philosophical differences between the two groups, even within Christianity.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Yet another blogger talking about the campaign

Posted by Chance on January 8, 2008

Right now I’m not sure who to endorse. Originally I liked Ron Paul, but I’ve heard him say a few things that bother me. I do like Thompson because of his federalist views, which serves in stark contrast to people of both parties who want to take all of their problems – and therefore all the power – on their back.

Lee gave his endorsement for McCain. McCain may actually not be that bad, I just don’t like him because of his role in Campaign Finance Reform, which I believe – at least his version – limits free speech.

During the debates in NH this past weekend I liked Thompson’s answers to many things. Paul and Guiliani spared over what caused 9/11. According to the debate, Paul thinks 9/11 has everything to do with foreign policy, Rudy thinks 9/11 had nothing to do with foreign policy. I think both views are wrong. Even if America was more isolationist, I do think radical Muslims would have problems with us. At the same time – I haven’t followed our foreign policy in the 80s and 90s to say it was good or bad – I think it’s dangerous to say foreign policy had nothing to do with why some people hate us. Paul did clarify somewhat on Leno last night his viewpoints. He does believe foreign policy was a factor, but he lays blame on those who actually carried out the attacks.

I will have to research the candidates again and decide who I will endorse. If McCain ends up winning the Republican nomination, it will be a great comeback. For my election prediction I think Obama will win the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

As Glen said, even though he is wrong on so many issues, Obama is a likable, energetic young man. So who has the best shot against Obama? I thought Guiliani would, as he is more socially liberal, pulling in people in the middle. However, many who would vote for Guiliani would also vote for Obama. I think McCain would stand a chance because he is many things Obama is not – conservative, older, more experienced, and less naive. Where Obama has weaknesses, those are McCain’s strengths. Sometimes being a polar opposite is advantageous.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »