I have been pretty vocal about politics, whether people wanted to hear my opinion or not. While socially liberal, I am often called a “wishy washy moderate” by my sister for finding merit in both sides of an issue and often preferring some kind of middle ground, particularly on budget and tax issues. Call that the curse of the middle child, if you want, but I don’t mind.
In purely ideological terms, I can be hard to pin down on the political spectrum, especially depending on the line of questioning. Particularly because of my social and environmental views, I usually find myself given the “liberal” label and that might be particularly true in England, where my preferred party would be the LibDems. That party checks all the socially liberal views I like, but they also have a healthy skepticism toward central planning and have a long track record of promoting political and ethical reforms. Yet, I might also be a “conservative” in the classic sense of the word, as I do prefer that we settle down and think through changes before implementing them. I also like term limits, free trade (mostly), deficit control, and eliminating government waste.
In recent years, my natural inclination toward moderation has been sorely tested by extremist rhetoric and actions by the Republicans in Washington and President Obama’s own nonchalance toward their behavior.
So what do I stand for?
I believe in a government that focuses on what it does well and what is has to do for the good of society, and get out of the way the rest of the time. We need a social safety net to protect the most vulnerable, but do we really need dozens of programs and agencies to handle the same issue? We need to have the best defense in the world, but now that the Cold War is over, do we really need to keep footing the bill for the defense of Western Europe? Our web of tax laws, particularly in regards to income and to retirement savings, is needlessly complex, but that doesn’t mean we should adopt a flat tax that only benefits the already well-off. The power of lobbyists and so-called dark money groups grow stronger every day, but that doesn’t mean we should accept unethical behavior from those who represent us.
Big government, small government, none of that matters if we don’t get it functioning properly again. We need to end the era of government dsyfunction and get a Washington that works – for all of us.
Now, the daily grind of partisan gridlock can be demoralizing and at times rather boring. I myself have stopped watching cable news almost entirely (except on Election Nights). However, I do stay informed about the issues Washington is debating or, as is increasingly common, finding ways to ignore. The issues I care most about are:
* Clean energy
* Health and retirement security
* Tax reform
* Ethics in government
* Fostering innovation
* Civil liberties
* Voter apathy / lack of representation
Special note on voter apathy: This was my cause célèbre in college. I even tried to start a short-lived, student-run think tank at the University of Florida called the New Democracy Project. With NDP I wanted to address concerns over student apathy toward their own political interests. Our best idea was the now-defunct website studentsvote.org. I also considered creating a political action committee, Rising Generation PAC, to encourage younger candidates to run for office, but did not have the money or connections to make that happen. Other priorities also took me away from UF and these projects, so neither really got off the ground, unfortunately.