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Personal political profile

By Jim Killebrew

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[February 19, 2014]  We are entering a year of political decisions through the election process. 2014 is a midyear election and 2016 will be the national election that will result in a set of officials in states and federal government offices that will have ramifications for years to come. Right now the American people seem to be divided in opinion regarding many issues. They either have clear positions for whom they will vote to fill those various offices, or they are not sure because they have not yet made up their mind about their candidates.

In today's political world, our political preferences are influenced by our personal worldview regarding a variety of issues. As we consider our preference of candidates, we are limited to political ads, political action committees, speeches from the candidates and of course, the "party line" espoused by the particular political party supporting the specific candidate. Augmented with that information, of course, are the talking points and commentators who are opining their own preferences and biases.

Of course since each one of us is part of the "We the People" group in our state and country, we get to vote for the candidate of our choice. That vote is cast as a result of learning as much as we can about the candidate, making a decision regarding how closely that candidate's views match our own views and matched to our beliefs regarding that candidate's trustworthiness in keeping his/her word about espoused views on the issues after winning the election.

To make it easier to make our decision, we need to first establish our own "political profile" to establish the standard against which we will measure the candidate's stand on the issues we believe passionately. In our current political landscape in America, we have established a set of issues we always seem to consider during each election cycle. There seems to be a continuum of beliefs concerning each one of those issues that are projected by the major political parties from which each of the candidates emerge. Underneath the political hype shouted from each political party, our personal belief systems are formed from a variety of sources. Through the process of forming our own opinion or worldview regarding agreement or disagreement, we establish our own preferences of how the candidate will govern once that person is actually in office. As much as possible, we need to match up that person's past experience, current actions and verbal statements of belief, credibility and character with the projection of how they may likely work toward enacting those beliefs in the future when voting for laws that shape the lives of all of us. We want to match our own values with what we believe are the values of that candidate.

Over the next few days I will try to explore the values along that continuum that most Americans operate as they establish their personal profile for matching the candidates for whom they will vote. That continuum in our world at the present time seems to be defined from a position beginning with liberal thought all the way to conservative thought. In our present political system, the more liberal thinking tends to be centered in the Democrat Party; the more conservative thinking tends to be centered in the Republican Party. So matching each candidate's stated position regarding the issue will establish a fairly solid platform on which to stand regarding what kind of policies the candidate will enact while in office.

Keep in mind the philosophical and political values of both mindsets almost always center on how we should implement government. The liberal core values tend to center on the actions of government being the mechanism that is best to dispense to the people what they believe is equality for everyone. They tend to believe that the larger the government, the better it is able to attack the ills of social problems in society. The larger the government, the more resources needed to protect individual's civil liberties and the individual rights of each citizen. The liberal core values believe the government should guarantee that no individual in society should ever be in need; government should anticipate those needs and set in motion a program or entitlement that addresses that need. It is the government, not the individual, that generally must solve the problems created in society.

The conservatives, on the other hand, look to the individual to take the lead in solving the social problems in society. Conservatives believe in individual, personal responsibility, with more of a limited government. The conservative mindset believes more in individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense. With a free market system in place, the conservative believes individuals can work toward their individual dreams as they are given the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. They generally believe that government should not establish what people need, but leave that to the personal freedom of the individual to determine his/her needs, with the government "getting out of the way," letting them keep their own money through lower taxes, and working toward living the life they can make for themselves and their family. Conservatives generally believe that government policies and regulations are needed for protection, but those policies and regulations generally empower the individual citizen to identify the problems, develop the solutions to the problems and solve the problems with minimal interference from the government.

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We must remember too, even within the general parameters of the "liberal" and "conservative" continuums, there is a continuum that can be described as "ultra or extreme" to "moderate" in each of the categories. It is especially important to recognize that variance among the candidates who participate in each party's primary elections. Usually there is a field of candidates who label themselves Democrat or Republican, but when compared with each other regarding their views on the issues, the label of the party may not describe them correctly. One may have "extreme" liberal views regarding an issue, while another candidate in the field of Democrats may have a "moderate" liberal view. Conversely, a field of Republicans may be running in the primary with one having an "ultra" conservative view, while another one in the same Republican field may hold a "moderate" conservative view regarding the same issue. In this case, on that one issue, there may not be very much difference between a "moderate" Democrat and a "moderate" Republican.

Over the next few days we will look at one or two issues at a time and examine the "liberal" view versus the "conservative" view of that issue. As we go through those issues, we can develop our own worldview regarding each of the issues as they stand alone. The first issue is that of abortion.


Liberal position

Again, the party that generally accepts the liberal view of abortion is the Democrat Party. So if the candidate is running on the Democrat ticket, he/she will generally have a history of supporting abortion. That position is usually couched in statements like, "It is a woman's right to choose what happens to her body." The candidate will likely not consider the fetus inside the woman's body as a human life, but will have other, scientific names like embryo or "mass" and not expect that fetus to have any individual rights of its own. With the candidate's belief in bigger government, the liberal position will likely include the belief the taxpayer should pay for the abortions for women who cannot afford to have one. They likely will have supported in the past and continue to support organizations like Planned Parenthood that provides thousands of abortions per year. Since the candidate will believe in abortion as a viable choice for the woman, the candidate will likely believe that the woman will have the right to have an abortion at any time during the pregnancy from conception to just prior to delivery. Again, the candidate will divulge personal preferences regarding his/her extreme or moderate belief related to when he/she believes that abortion should be carried out. Generally, the liberal belief and platform of the individual candidate will believe the woman has the right, protected by the government, for an abortion, even if it is a partial birth abortion.

Conservative position

The conservative position, generally speaking, will be the position held by the Republican Party. The candidate will be "pro-life" and will believe that human life begins at conception. There will be statements from the candidate that will indicate s/he believes abortion is the murder of a human being. The unborn baby will be considered a viable, living human being who is a separate human being and therefore should be afforded the human rights of all citizens of the United States. The candidate will believe the rights of the baby and the rights of the baby's mother are separate. Being opposed to abortion, the candidate will also be opposed to the taxpayers paying for abortions. They will be opposed to the government granting funds to organizations like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions. The conservative candidates will likely talk about legislation that protects the unborn baby and will fight through the legislative process to establish laws that ban abortion, including partial birth abortion.

Therefore, regarding the issue of abortion, as a voter, one must decide if they are standing with the liberal side of the issue or the conservative side of the issue. Generally, if agreement from the voter is with the liberal perspective, the voter will vote for the Democrat. If the agreement from the voter is with the conservative perspective, the voter will vote for the Republican.

Since most people don't vote simply for "one issue," it will be important to develop a "personal profile" of beliefs that match the profile of the candidate that matches more closely to the voter's profile.

Over the next few days we will examine the liberal and conservative stands on issues like global warming/climate change, affirmative action, economy, education, energy and gun control. As each issue is outlined on the liberal or conservative side, the voter can develop a personal profile and then use that as a guide to determine how the candidates in the primaries and general elections fall out.


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