“Right-winger”. What does that mean, exactly? Does it mean Republican? Because I’m certainly not a Republican; I’m a Libertarian, if I have to affiliate with any party (although I seldom do). I’ll also save the “Teabagger” thing for another post. I just don’t have enough time today to go into everything that’s wrong with that expression.
By my own reckoning, a right-winger is a die-hard member of the Christian Right. A Christian Coalition type, like the Fallwell group or those weirdos from the Westboro Baptist Church.
But it’s also Sarah Palin, isn’t it? And Rush Limbaugh. And that’s where I fit in, I guess. Because although I’ve made a point of rejecting Christianity in all its forms, I do like Palin and Limbaugh. I don’t think either of them should be president, but I like the ideal for which they stand.
Why? Because although people make mistakes (like Palin's comment about Paul Revere warning the British), at their core, they’re Conservative. And being Conservative is about a lot more than religion. You have to go to its core to find why I’m attracted to the fundamental ideals of the Conservative movement, but it's not an overly complicated concept.
By definition, a Conservative believes that government must be severely limited. I don’t mean you say government must be limited, while actually expanding government’s size, scope and power (like W did). I mean seriously limiting the ability of the government, on any level, to interfere in the private life of the individual, like Jefferson did. What this means is that the government has only sharply limited ability to interfere with your liberty. And by liberty, I mean Reagan’s definition of liberty: the rights to enjoy the fruits of your own labor. Palin, Limbaugh and others have actually spoken out against government expansion. Palin actually did something about it while she was governor of Alaska, which I find respectable and honorable.
By contrast, Obama is on record saying that he wants to “spread the wealth around”, meaning your paycheck and mine. This isn’t even disputable, as it’s too well documented to argue about whether he said it. He believes, and has said on a number of occasions, that the government has a responsibility to ensure that no American makes too much money. In my estimation, this is an outright evil perversion of the government’s mandate – and intentional attempt to usurp your right to the fruits of your own labor.
As a Buddhist, I’ve met people who believe that CNN is too far right. I like to say that our preferences tell more about us as people than they do about what we're preferring (or not preferring). If I say I don't like broccoli, for instance, that tells you more about me than about broccoli. I don’t consider myself a right-winger any more than a left-winger. In fact, I don’t think of myself as any kind of winger at all. I believe a lot of what Reagan said was right, but the same can be said of Gandhi. And King (Martin, not Rodney). Chris LeDoux was right when he said "It's all mud and blood and barbecue sauce and fingerpaintin' the town."
For me, the bottom line is this. We humans weren't meant to live under the control of some government, which is why it's part of our nature to struggle against authority, if we see that authority as usurping our natural freedom. On the one hand, you have people who want you to live, insofar as it’s possible, under the sweat of your own brow, but to enjoy everything you’ve earned without government intervention. On the other hand, you have people who want to regulate how much your sweat will earn, and take the rest away from you in order to give it to others who haven’t earned it. And picking one of those two sides, evidently, will get you labeled a something-or-other-winger.
I guess it's a label I can accept, as long as I feel there's an acceptable reason for it.