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one state, two state, red state, blue state
politics, the way i see it
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)

It's true what they say – a bar is no place to talk politics or religion.

Actually, I have no idea if they say that, but should it become a saying, feel free to attribute it to the Irish. It sounds like their sort of thing.

The reason I bring it up is that I got into a bit of a tiff, albeit a civil tiff, with a friend of mine this past weekend regarding his belief that I'm embarrassingly politically naïve and my belief that his candidates are trying to return this country to the point in time of the robber barons.

Now, to be fair, he's from Texas, and I don't say that to be arch. The atmospheres in which we were brought up are noticeably different, though he's from Austin, which is what I hear passes for liberal there. It's also obviously a bone of contention, as he was fairly adamant about me and my kind moving to Texas and trying to change it. I assured him I had no plans to do so. If I were going to move somewhere to try to change it, I think I'd start smaller, like my parents' house.

Now don't let my tone fool you; my friend is a very smart guy who probably put together more cohesive arguments supporting his side than I did supporting mine. We weren't really trying to change the other's mind, I don't think. I know for my part, I was more trying to explain my point of view and also try to understand why someone might align himself with the current Republican party, if it wasn't because God told him to.

And, as I said, my friend made some very salient points. In the end, however, I think it came down to a fundamental difference in what we felt were the most important issues. For him, it was all about the economy and the deficit and taxes – essentially fiduciary concerns. For me, it's much more about the social issues – abortion, healthcare, who our next 20 years of Supreme Court justices will be. It's not that I don't feel as though the economy isn't an important issue; I just a) don't think that the Republican economic theories have really been proven to work and b) think things tend to happen cyclically anyway, so the economy will improve regardless, but I'd rather it improve in a country that doesn't tell homosexuals they can't marry, doesn't tell women their rape wasn't "legitimate," and doesn't sell out the environment in favor of making a quick buck.

And the thing is, I agree with some of the basic Republican values – I'm all for state's rights in issues that don't concern us as a country. If you want your drinking age to be 19, have at it. If you want to enforce the death penalty, okay. If you want to ban smoking – or allow smoking – in all of your buildings, power to you. But if you want to take federal legislation that has been vetted and found Constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States and deny your citizens those rights or chip at it little by little because of some anti-big government thing you've got going on in your head, that's just petty.

Because of this stance on Friday, my friend accused me of, as I said earlier, being naïve. And he accused me of unconditionally supporting the President, which I don't unconditionally do. Yes, Obama and I share a number of the same views on things. No, I'm not an "Obama Lover," a phrase my friend used a few times. Which, now that I think about it, seems awfully close to a phrase used for years in the South, starting just one letter of the alphabet back from "Obama." Not obviously the same, but if the skin color fits….

(I'm not suggesting my friend is a racist. I know he's not. But the invective was a little too similar not to comment on it. I'm pretty sure "Bush Lover" wasn't a particular phrase the Democrats used in a derogatory manner, though I suppose it actually carries other connotations, mostly dating from 1970s porn films.)

In the end, my friend claimed that the real reason he was voting the Romney/Ryan ticket was that, "At least they have a plan." I should hope it's a plan my friend agrees with, of course. Because just having a plan does not make one the best candidate for the highest Executive seat in the country. If some politician has a plan to eradicate HIV/AIDS by quarantining everyone infected in camps worldwide and just letting them die out, well, that's a plan. That's even a plan that has a chance of success, if the logistics could be worked out. However, it's a terrible plan. We could reduce a lot of the Medicare/Medicaid budget by taking a page from "Logan's Run," but also not happening.

Just because someone has a plan, even if it were to work, that does not mean it's a good one. If I fundamentally disagree about your priorities, like advocating a budget that would allow insurance companies (who always put their subscribers' health first) to essentially compete over the elderly (who never get taken advantage of), then your having a plan just isn't good enough for me. Especially when you add it to all of the social stances your party takes that, frankly, scare the hell out of me.

About a month ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to the Texas Republican Party platform. Holy cow, these people are crazy. And don't just take my word for it. John T. Harvey, a professor of mathematics at Texas Christian University and a contributor to Forbes recently wrote, "Were its recommendations implemented, the US would resemble a third-world country with a cheap, uneducated workforce and a massive gap between rich and poor. Unemployment would be rampant, growth stagnant, and answers few and far between thanks to the systematic repression of higher order and critical thinking." If you don't believe me, read it yourself.

And the thing is, they're not alone, I don't think. I'd be willing to bet that I could name another 9 states just off the top of my head with similar Republican Party platforms. Which isn't to say that the Democratic Party platforms don't contain a number of stances with which I disagree. I'm in favor of capital punishment, to name one. I'm also in favor of the 2nd Amendment, though I do think there's plenty of room to allow for gun ownership and gun control side-by-side. If you live in a state where it's easier to buy a gun than it is to rent furniture, maybe something's a little off, priority-wise.

Truth be told, if it were up to me, I'd be wholeheartedly in favor of states being allowed to run themselves into the ground. "Don't want any of the stimulus money? Great. More for the Blue states." "Want to shut down all the Planned Parenthood locations within your borders? Okay, we'll hire their workers. Good luck with the other 95% of services they provided." "Want to get rid of the federal income tax (something actually on the Texas platform)?" "Okay, good luck with crumbling highways, the lack of National Guard, West Nile virus, and no student college grants." The number of "totally self-sufficient" people who would scream bloody murder if their Medicare was canceled both fascinates and sickens me.

So, yeah. Maybe the Republicans have a plan, but so do I. It's called, "You don't want government, you don't get government." And I'm cordially inviting anyone who my friend doesn't want "changing" Texas to come to my state. Hope to see you soon.


A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.

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