After my blog's debut yesterday, a friend asked me a straight up question--what do I mean by "center-right". To my Democrat buddies, I am about as right-wing as they come. To my seriously right-wing friends, I am an apostate. So here's a try at explaining it.
I am...generally speaking...a conservative with a slight libertarian streak. I am wed to no party, though these days I am a registered Republican. What this means is that if I found a candidate running in the Democratic Party--0r any other party for that matter--whose views reflected my own, I'd vote for them.
I consider most political questions through a fairly simple decision-making framework. The first question I ask, is "should the (federal, state, local) government be doing this?" Important question here, because I believe strongly in federalism. What is wrong for the federal government to do is often quite appropriate for local government. The second question I ask (even if I find that government may have a role in the solution) is "would a market-based solution do the job?" I move then to questions like "are my personal freedoms infringed upon by this initiative, and if so, is what I am giving up worth what I am gaining?" Dangerous question, but one worth asking. Is it an infringement upon my personal freedom to have the federal government monitoring a phone conversation I have with someone at an international number on a terrorism watch list? Yes, it is. Am I willing to give up that personal freedom in order to ensure government maneuver space in a war against an enemy seeking to destroy our way of life? You bet I am. But there must be limits and controls, and so far, I believe both the Bush Administration and the Congress have been sensitive to this.
Where do I deviate from conservative orthodoxy? Couple of places. The Second Amendment is a big one. If ever there were an amendment to the Constitution that clearly reflected the nature of the times it was conceived in, this is the one. We had no standing military force, there were hostile Indians quite close-by (not that they didn't have legitimate beefs), and the nation had in its memory, the image of foreign troops quartered in its homes and public spaces. I'm not for repealing the Second Amendment, just changing it. Here's how it reads:
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
To these words I would add "..by the federal government." This would take the feds out of regulation of guns altogether and allow state and local governments to place restrictions on the ownership of guns that more closely represent the views and cultural norms of their people. Would we then have lots of different regimes of gun law? Yep. But they would be regimes that closely track the views of local populations.
Where else do I deviate from conservative orthodoxy? The death penalty. I am against the death penalty for any crime. It really is that simple. Our justice system is not perfect, and so there should be no irreversible sanctions. That said, I am all for incredibly onerous detainment. Twenty-three hours a day of solitary confinement, no TV, no radio, no books, no weightlifting...nada. Nothing but time to reflect on the horrors of the crime committed.
I'm sure there are lots more places where I deviate, and I hope you'll help me raise the inconsistencies as time goes on.