Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Rational Republican

I search for the rational Republican, who might make the proper case for the conservative point of view as follows:

The United States has been bending over backward for too long trying to uplift partners around the world with foreign policy, military interventions, and trade agreements that serve to weaken our country. We need to change that. Deals must favor us, policies must make our goals equal to or greater than the goals of foreign partners, and military interventions must be treated more judiciously, requiring foreign nations to stop depending upon the U.S. as a crutch. Our diplomatic efforts must be predicated on others strengthening their own muscles and carrying their own weight. Enough, already, yes.

The United States has been foolish and naive in its immigration policy, and dishonest about the danger it poses to our national security. Allowing (and we do *allow* it) people to enter our country unchecked is as dangerous as leaving our front doors and windows wide open at home all the time. We are surely more at risk because of our lax attitude and practices in this area. 

Often, we hear that the free flow of trade and labor facilitated by our immigration policies benefits our economy. That's hogwash. Whatever benefit there may be to our economy from the employment of immigrants, it's not worth the detriment to our existing labor force's ego, its ambition, and its relevance to the strength of a traditional ladder of success. The middle class is not just collapsing because of bad trade deals, and slow adjustments to modern technology, and the employment of women - which we never addressed at all, really. The middle class is in jeopardy because the workforce has been damaged by the semi-permanent underclass of immigrants which ensures gaps in the experience and work ethic of our American laborer. As a consequence, he is demoralized, and we need to fix that.

Lest we be cast as idealogues, let's not call this a Democrat or a Republican issue. John McCain has been the U.S. Senator for Arizona for how many years? Immigration is a federal policy issue, and yet Arizona has been struggling with this problem throughout his entire tenure. Republican and Democrat presidents and congresses alike have failed to address this. Let's all be held to account.

We may be a nation of immigrants, but we are no longer living in a time where our need for labor serves as a vacuum for every kind of laborer; we must be smarter and, sadly, more selective about who and how we bring people into our country. This is a natural consequence of growing from a newcomer on the global stage to an established society with generations of citizens who are and have been American. A constant influx without some export of human labor eventually leads to imbalance. 

That's not racist or xenophobic, it's basic math, and responsible public policy, and its intent is not to diminish but to uphold and uplift the American ideal. With that said, racism is far from dead in this country, both toward immigrants and our own citizens of color. Let's admit that and work on it. Doing so does not mean 'racism' is the only answer to every question about how brown, black, and other minorities function in our society. That holds us all to a lesser standard. But it does mean we don't oppress the already marginalized with a disregard for their experiences.

Likewise, police brutality and the bias of our courts is not an invention of the self-righteous or the entitled. We need to approach each of our problems as the real and solvable challenges they are. The laws must be respected, as must the citizens, and the discipline necessary to achieve balance comes from the top. Speaking the truth has to be honored and encouraged on all sides of the divide.

The truth is our health is, of course, important and it can and should be the work of the government to help its citizens keep good health. However, the government cannot manage the work and machinery of a healthcare system that addresses the needs of millions without diverting its attention and resources to such a degree that other and more important priorities are left deficient. For this reason, a return to free-market healthcare systems with supports from and oversight by the federal government is the appropriate and realistic compromise. We must also make use of the existing infrastructure of education, food and drug administration, and agricultural systems that are neglecting their roles in the preventative care and on-going health of our citizens. We can do this if we approach the problem from a 'government can do' but not a 'government can do it all' point of view. That's not un-American. It's adult.

This is true in all our areas of discord. Whether the constitution contemplated semi-automatic weapons or not, the right to bear arms is fundamental not just to the tradition and spirit of the Second Amendment, but truly, to the ideal that the government cannot be more powerful than the people. There is value and necessity for ensuring that ordinary Americans continue to protect this position. Within reason, the President must support the people in this endeavor and he can do so without diminishing the value of every citizen's life. Criminal violence is not the necessary outcome of protecting the citizens' right to bear arms.

The Republican ideology does not seek to ban and bar, but to treat with measure and reason the benefits of our society, so that they can be sustained not just for this but all generations to come. The cavalier manner in which we have treated our borders, our laws, and our workers cannot meet a good end.  We must honor with real work and intention the principles upon which the nation was founded, that freedom is absolutely necessary for the human spirit to thrive, and that a nation must protect its freedoms in order to ensure they are available both for all their own citizens and to serve as a model for citizens of the world.

I seek him and he is nowhere to be found. So I look elsewhere.

To be continued...

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