I'm not saying you don't, I'm just saying that I do.
When I speak about raising taxes on the wealthy, as a middle-class guy, I know that it can seem like "envy economics" or "class warfare", but I assure you, if I made enough money to be facing a 2% tax increase, I would gladly pay that extra 2%. I promise you this. Why? Because I would be so grateful and feel so blessed to make that kind of money that giving 2% more of it back to the country that provided me with that opportunity would be a drop in the bucket to me. It would be an expense I would gladly bear.
Don't dismiss me, don't label me.
I understand the burden that is put on business, especially small businesses, by the government. I understand how things like over-regulation and broken tax laws make things difficult almost to the point of oppression. I understand that simply raising taxes isn't the solution to all of our nation's problems, because I understand that the biggest problem in our country today isn't about people paying taxes, it's about people having jobs in the first place to even be taxed. It's about the kinds of jobs that are available and how little they pay for the average family, struggling to make it. I understand that regulatory and tax reform would be a huge boon to business growth, development and investment, and would create real jobs. I want to see businesses invest in my community, I want to see jobs created and people going to work, because I want to see our country thrive.
You see, I don't hate the wealthy, I hate the greedy.
Don't label me a "share the wealth socialist" or an "Anti-corporatist" or any of those things. I don't hate success, quite the opposite, in fact. I love success. I love to see businesses thrive and do well. I love to watch entrepreneurs with big ideas see those ideas pay off in huge dividends. I love it when a business takes off, expands and hires hundreds or thousands of employees. I love to see that success carry through the economy, providing jobs and opportunity and re-investment. I want to see that happen all over our nation, all the time, always.
I have a problem with those who hoard opportunity, not wealth. If you worked hard for your money and you want to hang on to it, I can't really blame you, but nobody has the right to hoard opportunity, not in this country. This is the "Land of Opportunity", you don't get to hoard that. Yes, I'm absolutely a "socialist" when it comes to redistribution of the opportunity in this country. There are a lot of bright, eager, hard-working and able-bodied people in this country, struggling to get the opportunity to show their abilities. There are also a lot of lazy, entitled, apathetic people in this country upon which opportunity is wasted. Those who are willing and able to work in this country should always have the opportunity to meet with those who seek willing and able employees. It bothers me much more to see doors closed in the faces of those who deserve to have them opened than it does to see the richest man drive by in the nicest car. I don't begrudge success, I begrudge greed. I don't dislike the man who has everything, I dislike the man who can never have enough.
I'm not a "Godless secular progressive", and I think people who use that term are idiots, with all due respect.
I don't hate Christians, in fact, I like them quite a bit. I respect the values that I learned as a young boy in church. I recognize that faith instills in most people a strong moral compass and a solid sense of right and wrong. Yes, I can already hear my non-religious friends saying "You don't need a church to tell you what's right and wrong!" That is true, but at the same time, people who are raised with a spiritual foundation are generally compassionate, caring and have a clearly-defined sense of morality. Whether they stick to it through adulthood is on them, but I would never disparage the notion of teaching kids to be good people and love one another as brothers and sisters from an early age.
Now, when your religious beliefs become a political ideology, sure I'm going to have a problem with that, and for good reason. I believe in the separation of church and state, because this is a nation of varying beliefs and cultures and faiths, and all of those beliefs should be respected equally. I don't like politicians who lead with their theology. I respect a politician with a strong moral compass, with a deep-seeded sense of right and wrong and other attributes that a good, faith-based upbringing can provide to so many people, but I want a leader who is pragmatic, who understands that there are no simple answers to complicated questions. I want a leader who chooses logic and reason above all. One who believes in science and the advancement of research. I respect the man who is wise enough to admit that he doesn't have all the answers, because none of us do.
I don't want to take away your guns.
I support the 2nd amendment, as I support ALL the amendments. I support the right to keep and bear arms. In fact, I support concealed carry laws. I support the right of law-abiding citizens to arm themselves for personal protection. I recognize that crime rates are generally lower in states with concealed carry laws. I like to shoot guns, it's fun! I like to hold a shotgun tight, squeeze the trigger and feel that kick. I'm not a hunter, but I like shooting. I think it's important to teach firearm safety and promote education and the idea that guns are like any other tool or piece of machinery, if it's not operated properly and with the right safety precautions, people can get hurt or killed. I think responsible firearms possession and use should be allowed.
I don't want to "force" my agenda upon you.
I support gay rights. I support marital equality. I support these things because they don't require anyone who isn't gay to change their lives in any way. Allowing gays to get married does not change the state of any heterosexual couples marriage. Allowing gays to have the same rights as straight people does not negatively impact the straight community. Teaching tolerance and acceptance in schools does not indoctrinate children into envying the gay lifestyle, it simply teaches them to understand those who are different from them, and for kids who are growing up gay, it teaches them that they aren't bad people, this is just who you are and you are as good as anybody else. I don't want to "make" you like gay people, you don't have to like them at all, just don't mistreat people simply for being different than you. You don't have to "accept" homosexuality, but don't try to stop it, like it's just a choice that people make and can be forced to "unmake". Even if you think that being gay is purely a choice people make, then you have to think about it like the choice to do drugs, and we have seen how ineffective a 4-decade long war on drugs has been.
Speaking of drugs, I don't think you need the government to tell you not to do drugs.
Yes, like a true Libertarian, I support legalizing drugs. Not because I want to see everyone in the country doing heroin, but because I know that most of the people in the country still wouldn't be doing it.
You don't put a gun to your head and pull the trigger, right? Why? Because you know it will kill you. Do you need the government to pass a law prohibiting placing a gun against your own temple? Of course not, that's ridiculous, nobody needs the government to tell them that shooting yourself in the head is stupid and will most likely kill you. Well... it's the same with drugs. You don't need the government to tell you that you can't do drugs because they will harm you and possibly kill you, you already know that. If you choose to do drugs anyway, it's not because you aren't aware of the risks, it's because you don't care about them. Look at how many kids get seriously injured every year trying to do stunts on bikes and skateboards. Are we pushing to illegalize bikes and skateboards? Of course not. However, we are teaching kids how to be safe and how to avoid getting hurt by not trying to do the crazy stuff they see other people do on tv. Why is that same approach not good enough for drugs? If you look at the numbers, there are far less kids breaking their bones doing skateboard and bike stunts then there are kids trying pot or other drugs for the first time, so which method is more effective?
I don't like "big government".
I like "efficient" government. I like a government that can do what needs to be done with the best allocation of resources possible. I don't think throwing money at a problem solves it. I don't think the answer to all of our problems is more regulations, more departments, more bureaucracy. I think we could do away with a lot of the agencies that have been formed in our nation's history. I think many of them could be re-delegated to the state level, I think that goes for a lot of regulatory agencies as well, and should be accompanied with regulatory reform so that we stop stifling business growth and job creation, as I mentioned earlier.
I think it's important for our government to provide for the national defense. I think they should provide for the common welfare. I think they should enforce basic, common sense regulation and leave the nit-picking to the individual states, where voters can more easily decide whether or not they support new laws and regulations in a way that they can't on the national level. I think government should look after it's people with things like basic health care so that no one has to go without fundamental medical care if they need it and cannot afford it. I think government should continue to support public education and make it a priority. The only thing worse than shipping our jobs overseas is shipping our "brains" there too. The "brain drain" in our country is the next big resource crisis and nobody is really taking it seriously enough.
However, I think the government needs to stay out of our private lives. Enforce the laws of the land, as voted by the people, but don't legislate morality. Don't try to force the country to conform to one template of behavior. Don't try to control things that are impossible and frankly inappropriate to try and control, and instead focus on controlling the things you can and should be controlling better. Leave community standards to the communities, just keep handling the important stuff, we're perfectly capable of taking care of the rest.
I'm just saying, don't think you know me because you hear me say things that sound like what "They" say, whoever "They" are. Don't think that everyone is either black or white, because we're all shades of gray. My views aren't those of a lot of people, but they are similar, I think, to more people's personal views than they aren't. I have "liberal" friends who would strongly disagree with some of my fiscal views and my social views, namely my support for regulatory reform and incentives to bring businesses back, my support for the 2nd amendment and the death penalty and my support for truly smaller government, by delegating many national departments to the state level. I also have conservative friends who disagree with my support for marital equality, immigration reform, legalization of drugs and prostitution and teaching tolerance in schools.
However, when you strip away all the labels, all the pigeonholing and all the assumptions. At the end of the day, what I am is a guy who wants to see our nation thrive and grow and prosper. I want to make America a country that I want to have kids in, so I can pass down a better life for them than the one I had. I want to see people who want to work find work, and I want to see people who don't want to work get exactly the life of poverty that they are asking for. I want to see a system that works, a government that works. I want the people to be passionate about the political process again because they are empowered by their government, instead of feeling ignored and impotent to effect change. I want to see America continue to be the greatest nation in the world because of the contributions of everyone who lives here. I don't think anyone would disagree with any of that. I think that's what we all want, really.
I often tell people "I think we both want to get to the same destination, we just have two different routes that we think are the best way to get there." I believe that. I believe that, when it comes right down to it, everyone just wants to be happy and achieve whatever their definition of success is.
For me, financial success would be to make enough money to have a nice little house, a couple new cars in the driveway, a kick-ass home theater system, some money in the bank and not have to worry about paying the bills when they're due.
For me, personal success would be to do a job that I am eager to wake up and go to every day, to come home to my beautiful wife and maybe a kid (if they should be so lucky as to be born to two kick ass parents like we would be) and my dogs. To have friends I could count on for anything who give me unconditional support.
I don't need much to consider myself successful. More than some, less than others, but if I could have all of those things I think I would consider myself to be a pretty successful person.
However, the ultimate success, for me, would be to get just one person who disagrees with me vehemently on my politics to agree with me on what's really important for all of us in this country. If I could get one person to say "You know, I thought I had this guy figured out, but I had no idea." THAT would be success.
Don't think you have me all figured out just yet, I might surprise you.