Thursday, July 6, 2006

Politics shouldn't blind reality

A strong political ideology is what gives us all a side to be on and motivates us to be politically active. Yet, we mustn’t let it blind us to reality.

I grew up with conservative parents in a conservative small town. Since then, I have been sliding left for three major reasons.
First, I do not believe elected officials always “know what is best,” and they must be open with their constituents. I believe that questions must be answered straightforwardly. I feel the Bush administration cannot tell us the truth on a number of issues. It seems like we always get the answer that we should continue to provide support for whatever stance the administration takes.

Second, I believe the best way to counteract terrorism is to increase the image of our country abroad. We do this through cooperation with other nations. We do this through practicing what we preach — even at Guantánamo. We do not do this by trying to spread democracy with the barrel of a gun.

Third, our nation was founded on individual freedoms and the Bill of Rights. Therefore, the government should not try to take them away. As a devote Christian, I believe homosexuals have a right to raise a family together; we all have a right to practice our religions as we please; no citizen should be forced to live on $5.15 an hour, and every American should have health-care coverage. (We are required to have automobile coverage — what’s more important?)

Yet, I also believe government is not the answer to every problem. It is not the efficient, well-oiled machine it could be. Waste and corruption are real. Therefore, I still agree pork-barreling should be reined in, extra fat should be cut, and inefficient programs should be let go — the average citizen knows how to spend a dollar better than Uncle Sam.

Tomorrow, my views might change again, but that is the beauty of learning. After spending the past six weeks in Washington, D.C., I saw a side of government I could never understand by reading textbooks or newspapers. Some things frustrated me, while other things excited me — yet both situations made me feel more passionate about my beliefs.
Ultimately, we must all avoid the danger of avoiding the other side, simply because it is the other side, just as rational should never be superseded by partisan politics. I don’t value being labeled a D, R, or I, but, instead, value what I believe. Party platforms should be treated as such — platforms to bound from rather than stand on.

John Heineman

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