A political theory

In many political debates (especially those addressing “moral values”), I have noticed one theme that seems to be a major difference between Republican and Democrat. (Note: I identify myself as liberal/progressive/Democrat, so the following may appear biased. It is. But, to quote The Daily Show, “the truth has a liberal bias.”)

I consider tolerance and acceptance to be incredibly important. To me, that means that even if I don’t agree with your opinions, I accept that people can believe different things- it is your right to have those opinions. Similarly, I know that just because I don’t share a particular choice or lifestyle, that doesn’t necessarily mean that my way is right and the other is wrong. What works for me may not work for everyone else, and we should all have be able to live, believe, and act according to what is right for us as individuals.

For example, I am a vegetarian. I think it’s a good idea, both for the environment and for my health, and I’m quite happy not eating meat. However, I know that vegetarianism isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. If they ask, I’ll talk about why I’m vegetarian, but I won’t try to “convert” anyone. And if I were in politics, I wouldn’t try to outlaw meat eating based on my opinions. 

Likewise, I will never marry a woman. As a straight female, I personally don’t want to have a same-sex marriage. That works for me. But there are plenty of women in this country who do want to marry other women, and they should have that right. If I were to say that there should be no same sex marriage because I didn’t marry a woman and I’m happy, that would be absurd.

I know this all sounds kind of silly, but I’ve heard many similar arguments from conservatives (the exact same argument from someone who was against gay marriage). Look at the war in Iraq- we’re there because Bush wants to spread our (flawed) system of democracy, thinking that it will work for everyone in the world, regardless of cultural differences. And I’ve heard many people speak out against abortion based on their opinions and beliefs. But how can anyone extrapolate such a personal choice to say that an entire country should be mandated to have the same beliefs?

I am in no way trying to say that all Republicans try to force their beliefs on people, or that no Democrats do. But looking at these oft-debated issues, I can’t help but think that, when in doubt, liberals take the side of personal choice and conservatives take the side of “right” vs. “wrong.” That should not be the purpose of government.

As I said before, these are my opinions and my beliefs. You don’t have to agree.

I began writing this post several days ago. By chance, this morning Brian Lehrer addressed the issue of moral values in politics (in case you want to hear some other opinons).

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