This should be an interesting post. It's been bubbling in my brain for a few weeks now. The trick will be keeping it relatively manageable, succinct and coherent.
A couple of caveats before I begin. #1. This is in no way a slap at any of my friends. I have friends across the political spectrum. If you are a member of any given party, kudos to you. I am not attacking you personally. This is my story, that's all.
#2. I think that it is difficult to be a member of any political party. Every party has good and bad ideas in them. They are only has good or as flawed as the people who make them up.
#3. I could sing the old song of "I didn't leave my party. It left me." This is true in my case...and that's all I'm saying..."In MY case."
#4. NO, I am not a Democrat. I am strictly independent. I try to look at every issue and politician individually, and vote accordingly. I have come to the conclusion that this is the most biblical way to view politics.
#5. Regardless of your political persuasion, put your faith in God and his kingdom FIRST. Political parties come & go. So do nations. His kingdom lasts for ever. He knows what he's doing. Keep that in the forefront of your mind when you are discussing politics.
Traditional Republican philosophy has believed for decades in Limited Government, low regulations and "Reasonably" low taxes. I still believe in this. (I simply no longer believe that the current Republican party does.) Also, I have voted for Republican candidates almost exclusively since I could vote. I still love Ronald Reagan (Though for reasons different than those who currently hold him up as a saint.), Teddy Roosevelt...and even John McCain. (Just my opinion, but I do believe that if McCain had been elected back in 2000, we would NOT be in the mess that George Bush got us into.)
So why do I no longer consider myself a Republican?
It would be easy to lay all of the blame at the feet of this man for why I left the party. I voted for the guy. I thought the alternatives of Al Gore & John Kerry were worse. But I also thought that W would be a moderate who kept the "Religious Right" at arms-length. What I ended up with was a guy who thought it was God's will to invade Iraq (YES, he actually said that), had no problem torturing people, and bankrupted the country. I mean, for a guy who billed himself as a fiscal conservative, he actually caused the size of government to grow by 25.3%...while giving out unwarranted tax cuts. Even Clinton only caused the size of government to grow by 14.4%...and he left us with a budget surplus.
Yeah, it would be easy to lay it all at the feet of Bush. But I would have to include most of the current Republican leadership in this blame game, too...which I do. And it is these same folks who now blame Obama for the fiscal mess that THEY created. (But now they want me to trust them to actually fix it.) I don't understand how anyone can NOT admit that the Bush administration was an almost complete disaster for this country economically, militarily and diplomatically. (It's as if God raised up Bush as our leader to punish us for our arrogance & selfishness.) But that's not the reason I left the party.
The Election of Obama:
I didn't vote for the guy, but I knew he was going to win. I was fine with that. I knew that he was not the screaming leftist that some wanted to make him out to be. Frankly, I really liked the idea of a godly, family-faithful President who was also African American. I thought he would be a great role model for many people in our country.
What I had not counted on was the vitriolic reaction to his election. I was completely taken off guard by the foaming at the mouth reaction to his administration with in two months of his inauguration. All of a sudden, all of the mess that Bush had gotten us into were laid at this new President's feet. The majority of Bush's emergency plans to save the auto industry and banks (Which I agreed with, but still held my nose over.) were blamed on Obama. It was as if the economy had been fine & dandy for the past two years previous, but came tumbling down as soon as Obama said "I do." I could not understand this reaction. (Wasn't real keen on a lot of the undertones of racism that I noticed either.) But that's not the reason I left the party.
I could even comment about the reaction to Obama's health care initiative. I could easily point out that most of it is a revamp of Republican ideas that were put forward in the 90s as an alternative to Clinton's proposals. I could point out that the majority of it was based on then Republican governor MITT ROMNEY'S Massachusetts' plan. I could point that out. I could do that...but I'll let the current Republican contenders shred candidate Romney's evil socialist/marxist/REPUBLICAN ideas about health care for all in the debates over the next few months. I could point out that Republicans are being extremely disingenuous...even hypocritical, on this issue. But that's not the reason that I left the party.
This person is the main reason that I left the party.
Admittedly, this is a video compilation. So it is subject to being taken out of context. However, anyone can do a minimal amount of digging to find plenty on the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
One article on Rand's philosophy that I found to be very interesting and highly recommend is this one from Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/september/2.36.html
Let me state for the record that I have flirted with the idea of "Libertarianism" for years. But I have come to the conclusion that it is simply another form of un-biblical idolatry. (Not that there is such a thing as pro-biblical idolatry.) It raises the individual and said individual's pursuit of economic gain above all else...including God, as being the "Greatest Good." This is idolatry plain & simple.
The views that Ayn Rand espouses are a direct attack on everything that Jesus taught. She has some good ideas, but the over all package is an assault on a biblical worldview. That simply cannot be debated....and she makes no bones about it! She hates any concept of God & religious faith, and she hates the idea of altruism and protecting the weak..."Those people do not deserve my love."
The truth is that Ayn Rand's views are EVIL. (I know that it is a bold and provocative statement to make, but I absolutely believe it to be true.) If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, have read the Sermon on the Mount, try to model your life after the character Jesus portrayed in the Gospels...and also agree with Ayn Rand's philosophies, you really need to explain to me how you can square both of those diametrically opposed world views in your mind. I honestly do not understand how you can do it. This person despises the things that historic, orthodox christianity is suppose to uphold. You cannot debate or ignore that fact.
The underlying fact that Ayn Rand's philosophy has become the underpinnings of current Republican ideas is a great danger to our country. It is the promotion of selfish individualism at it's worst. It is Social Darwinism in it's wickedest form. The idea that an unchecked Free Market is the final arbiter of all things economic is deadly...and we already have the history to prove it.
All you have to do is go back and take a look at American history from the end of the Civil War to the rise of Teddy Roosevelt to see what unfettered Capitalism will get you. Robber barons ran the economic infrastructure of the nation. Workers were routinely exploited. Best of all, there were no safety regulations or any type of social safety net. So if you lost an arm at work..."Oops! Bummer for you, buddy." And, "Hey Bob! I got a bunch of dead rats in a pile from the poison we laid down around the meat. What should I do with them?" Answer: "Heck Steve, just sweep it all into the sausage vat. We need a little more filler anyway."
Gosh, golly-gee...who wouldn't want to go back to a system like that?!?!?!
Yes, it actually WAS like that. It doesn't take much digging in history books to figure that out. It took a REPUBLICAN President, Teddy Roosevelt, to begin to address those issues in a serious way. But it would appear that current Republican philosophy wants to regress just a tad.
So, am I attacking the Free Enterprise system? Not at all! It still is the most efficient means to produce a decent standard of living for a society. But it needs to be balanced with proper and wise government regulations. (It was sloppy, or no, regulation of the housing sector that got us into this financial crisis) There should be balance, and never be one side overpowering the other.
As I said, Ayn Rand's ideas are nothing more than the worst of Social Darwinism. The idea that so many of the current Republican thinkers are so far to the Right on this scares me. Rand espouses self-interest above all else. There would be no social safety net. People would be on their own. That's a great way for the most vulnerable to get hurt. And it is NOT something that Jesus would EVER do.
Please do not throw out the silly argument that charity and the church would fill those gaps. (In an ideal world, that would be true.) The church SHOULD fill that gap. But the fact remains that too many American christians are not doing their part. (I include myself in this condemnation.) There are some things that only the government is equipped to do. And who is to say that the church shouldn't or can't harness and help the government to create a system that protects the most vulnerable?
Just a Thought:
So Ezekiel the Prophet is off in Babylon. One day, YHWH send him to the Hebrews in exile to tell them why he punished them. YHWH compares the Israelites to the city of Sodom. Normally, people think of Sodom & Gomorrah as being sexually WAY out of whack. This is true, but the sexual hedonism was the result of something deeper in the lives & mindsets of the people of S & G.
"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned;
they did not help the poor and needy.
They were haughty and did detestable things before me.
Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."
Ez. 16:49 & 50
Hhhmmmmm, that sounds remarkably close to what Ayn Rand espouses.
So if blatant self-interest, with little to no altruism, along with a general being "unconcerned" (Lip service doesn't count.) is really what God defines as Sodomy...and caused him to bring the hammer down, THEN I suppose it would be fair to say that people like Ayn Rand, Congressman Paul Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, etc. are all a bunch of Sodomites...and so are so many others. Yes, they are sodomites. They promote Sodomy...Sodomy, Sodomy, SODOMY! (I'd pay good money to see that on a couple of placards at one of their campaign rallies. YES!)
So I shall now tell people, when they ask me why I am no longer a Republican, that I love this country and do not wish to see God destroy it due to the promotion of Sodomy, and that's what Republicans are currently doing. (Can't wait to see the looks on their face's when I bring that up in polite company.)
Whatever happened to the Republican heros from my State like Con. Jim Ramstad, Gov. Arne Carlson, Sen. Dave Durenburger and Gov. Al Quie? Oh yeah, they backed Tom Horner for governor of Minnesota 2 years ago...a former Republican, now of the Independence Party of Minnesota. Interesting, very interesting.
ANYWAY, That's my explanation for now, for what it's worth.
P.S. Friends don't let other friends encourage Sodomy among political parties and politicians.
P.S.S. I finally did a follow-up to this post. You can check it out here if you wish. http://trippingstumblingwhilefollowingjesus.blogspot.com/2011/06/why-i-am-no-longer-republican-part-1_27.html
The following are a list of videos and links that helped to inform my views on this journey. It certainly is not exhaustive by any stretch. Again, these are simply my opinions. But I hope that they are relatively educated ones...and ones that are also, hopefully, consistent with Scripture.
#1. Ayn Rand on the old Phil Donahue show.
In no way do I believe that Atheists are evil people. (Obviously I don't agree with Atheism, but that's for another time) I just think that this gives a very good overview...in her own words, to Ayn Rand's worldview.
#2. An EXCELLENT interview with an author who has investigated the Koch brothers. They were major financiers of Glen Beck's Rally to Restore Honor on the Washington mall last August. These two are hard-core libertarians who want NO government regulations. If you have family or friends involved in the Tea Party political cult, you should send this to them. (Especially because of the demeaning way that the brother's minions refer to members of the Tea Party.) They like it that they are their shock troops for their personal agenda, but consider them to be essentially hill-billies.
Remember this the next time you are buying Brawny paper towels. (The Koch brothers own that.)
#3. Dr. Russell Moore is a theologian for the Southern Baptists. He had some things to say about the B.P. oil spill last year that I thought were brilliant. "Simply trusting corporations to go about their business without polluting the water streams and without destroying ecosystems is really a naïve and utopian view of human nature. It's not a Christian view of human nature."
These two links go hand in hand with each other. But the NPR link holds the bulk of the information.
#4. Finally. Most people throw terms like "Liberal & Conservative" around, but do not actually know what these terms mean. It's been my observation that it can mean a variety of different things to a variety of different people. In fact, most political scientists have noted that since the end of the cold war in late 80s and early 90s, these terms have collapsed in many respects. So, here is a website where you can go and take a test to see exactly where you fall in respect to the broader view of these terms. (Plus, you get to see what historical figures you might line up with.)