Liberals!: Or why I support Sarah Palin

So recently I have been re-watching the West Wing and I watched the episode “The Debate.” In that episode the Senator Arnold Vinick (the Republican) is calling Rep. Santos (the Democrat) a “liberal” and a “progressive”. Santos retorts that “Republican’s have tried to paint the picture that “liberal” is a bad word, but Liberal’s ended slavery.” Vinnick responds “A Republican President ended slavery.” Santos then states,

“Yes, a Liberal Republican, What happened to them? They got run out of the Republican party, why? Liberals got women the right to vote, Liberals got African Americans the right to vote, Liberals created social security and lited millions of elderly people out of poverty, Liberals ended segregation, Liberals past the Civil Rights Act, the Voting rights act, Liberals created Medicare, Liberals past the clean air act, the clean water act, What did Conservatives do? They oppose every one of those programs, every one. So when you try to hurl that word ‘Liberal’ at my feet as if it is something I should be ashamed of it won’t work Senator. I will pick it up and wear it as a badge of honor.”

I look at that statement by Matt Santos and it lines up with my established ideology pretty well. It was because of this speech a few years back that I knew what to call myself. For a while now I have been a Democrat. But recently I realized that I forgot the first part of this speech. Look back at the top of Santos’ quote. I realized that I wasn’t a Democrat, but instead, I am a Liberal Republican. I am not some “Reagan Republican” as most seeking to pass the GOP litmus test claim to be (ironically enough, Reagan wouldn’t have passed said litmus test). I am a proud Liberal and a proud Republican. Wow, talk about a paradox today. Except it isn’t.

The party lines are fracturing and elections are focusing on issues over campaigns and that means that the time is ripe for political parties to re-identify themselves. Take a look at the fact that President Obama and Carrie Prejean (Miss-America 2009 runner-up) have the same views on Gay Marriage whereas Cindy McCain and Laura Bush both believe in Marriage Equality.

Let me shift gears for a moment and fly us over to London where Conservative David Cameron is now the Prime Minister. For those of you who aren’t policy wonks, how did he get there? Not because he got the majority of the votes, but because he formed a coalition with the Liberal-Democrat party that only then gave him enough votes to become the Prime Minister. He courted their votes by compromising on some issues creating a more moderate government than he would have otherwise had. How did this happen? Its simple really, the UK has 3 main political parties.

George Washington advocated against political parties but rather for a united nation. That vision was never really achieved and now we have two deeply entrenched parties that are always fighting against each other. This reminds me of a Voltaire quote which states,

“If there were only one religion in England there would be danger of despotism, if there were two they would cut each other’s throats, but there are thirty and they live in peace and happiness.”

While this quote is about religions, I think it is relevant for political parties as well. If there were one political party we would be China or Soviet Russia. We currently have two and they are at each other’s throats. Why don’t we try something else and create a third party?

The Tea Party is poised to create itself as a third party by taking the religious right away from the republicans while also giving voice to many libertarians. In reaction to this, the democrats on the Far left are pushing to go further left. This creates a vacuum for the Republican Party. They have a choice, either follow the Tea Party into the extreme wings, or take a look at themselves and return to their roots. President Abraham Lincoln, the Liberal Republican. So man up Republican’s and look at where the market is going, you can do better for yourselves and the nation by becoming extremists. Extreme moderates, or, as I am, Liberal Republicans.

Reviewing "Next to Normal"

I am sitting on the bus back to DC after just 2 hours of finishing the musical Next to Normal and it I am still in awe. I am not one to get emotional in movies. Sure I laugh at the witty wordplay and enjoy when the plot takes an unexpected turn, but rarely am i touched by a movie or a musical. Next to Normal is an exception to this.

Far from normal, this show is simply extraordinary. I will not give away to reveal in this show because it is quite good, but this show is about one family. A Mother (Diana) who is trying to hold onto her family, her 18-yr old son (Gabe) who is charming and everything his mother could wish for (who incidentally enough moves his body much like a great friend), her 16-yr old daughter (Natalie) who is trying to be perfect, her husband Dan who is working overtime as a husband and father. There is also Natalie’s Boyfriend (Henry) and the shrink (Dr. Madden).

This show is ultimately about how a family struggles to carve out an existence that doesn’t even come close to normal, but they are fine settling for something “next to” normal. You see:

  • Diana has been diagnosed as Bi-Polar depressive with delusional episodes and a 16-year history of medication. One of the best taglines from the show comes from a song between her and her psycho-pharmacologist. “Valium is my favorite color how did you know?“ 
  • Natalie struggles to be seen even as she excels at school and piano. She feels completely overshadowed by her brother, Gabe and vents this frustration in a great song called “Super Boy an the Invisible Girl” 
  • Gabe has codependency issues with his mother and is struggling to hang on to his own existence and sings about it in his epic song “I’m Alive” 
  • And Dan is struggling to hold everything together, determined to be the one that holds one and sticks through the pain and drama that is happening to his wife and his family because he made “A Promise”to stay with Diana in sickness and in health and he isn’t the type of man to break such a promise.

This show is humorous, deep, emotional and revealing all at the same time. The script won a Pulitzer Prize and in my mind this tagline says it the best. “This is more than a feel-good musical it is a feel-everything musical.“

I said above that I don’t get emotional in movies and musicals. Near the end of this show I sat in shock as 3 tears rolled down my cheek carving a trail that is a constant reminder that my life is far from normal but that doesn’t mean I can’t try for something next to normal.

Oh and yes I did buy a ”Super Boy” T-Shirt.

Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies – My thoughts on DADT.

So I work right next to Lafayette Park. On the other side of the park is the White House and so Lafayette park is the perfect location for protests aimed at the President. I look outside my office and just about every day there are several groups of protesters. ACLU, AFL-CIO, TEA Party, feminists, Pro-Israeli groups, Free Palestine groups and most recently Get EQUAL.

Dan Choi and his group of protesters have been in Lafayette park 3 times now. The first was an HRC rally with Kathy Griffin that was high-jacked by Lt. Dan Choi that ultimately led to Dan and 6 others handcuffing themselves to the White House fence in a call to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). This action created the Get EQUAL Campaign because many people felt that the HRC was failing to do its job well enough and we needed to take a stand and be vocal about our equality. They organized another protest a few weeks ago that again ended with Lt. Dan Choi again handcuffing himself and 6 others to the White house fence. This time however, the Capitol police shut the entire park down. They removed all the media from the event so that no one could see or have footage of what happened to Lt. Dan Choi and his associates.

Finally last weekend there was a third protest in Lafayette Park. Lt. Dan Choi had been given an order not to cross a certain line and he toed that line. More people gathered and the former head of the DNC Howard Dean spoke on the need to repeal DADT. His speech was stirring and riveting and I, as a Deaniac, was moved by his words.

The point of these protests is to have President Obama attach an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, which is a bill that provides funding for the troops. As such it is almost guaranteed to pass congress and is often a place that congressmen stick pork. The amendment would end change the uniform code of military justice and end DADT as President Obama claimed he would do countless times, most recently during the State of the Union. Politically this is the quickest way of ending DADT.

Erstwhile on Capitol Hill the Senate Armed Services Committee asked the Secretary of Defense for his opinion on ending the ban on DADT. Back in February Robert M. Gates (appointed by President Bush) spoke to the Senate Armed Forces Committee and told them that he thought it was time for the DoD to look at the logistics of repealing DADT next year. This was a giant step for the Gay Rights movement because we finally had internal traction on repealing DADT.

When I was at BYU in the Air Force ROTC Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was replaced with Secretary Gates and I did my research on him. I believe that he is an honest man with a deep sense of honor and personal integrity. I trust and believe in Secretary Gates more than I trust President Obama or nearly any Member of Congress.

And so when asked for his opinion last week on attaching an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would repeal DADT right now before the DoD review, Robert M. Gates told the Committee “I hope Congress will not do so, as it would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence their views, concerns, and perspectives do not matter on an issue with such a direct impact and consequence for them and their families.”

In the case of DADT I say wait, slow down. We have a democratic president and a democratic House. We can get further politically after the mid-term elections anyway and we can do the right thing. I fully support ending the repeal of DADT but not right now. I trust the opinion of the DoD and Robert M. Gates more than my own knowledge and so my view is that we should hold off on the repeal for now.

Series 42 The Liberty of Net Neutrality

As some of you may noticed I launched my personal website and tied this blog into it. Among the pages is my bucket list where I have listed the Rudyard Kipling Poem “If”. This poem is my guiding script. It is what I turn to for vision on what I should be doing and how I should be acting in any given situation. However it doesn’t lend itself to politics too much.

At least for me, it doesn’t give me any insight into discovering a balance between authority and liberty. I am still searching for my personal baseline and hope that through this series of posts. As I discussed on the comments on my Facebook crosspost of this article my Series 42 posts are more along the lines of “What would I do if I were in a position of power? How would I balance authority and liberty?” Lets get into it for Net Neutrality.

Essentially Net Neutrality is the concept that all content traveling through Internet Service Providers (ie. Comcast, Verizon, Quest) needs to be treated equally and remain private. Back in 2008 the FCC stated that all content must flow equally regardless of filetype or size. Comcast challenged this because they want to be able to enforce a model that gives them control over the traffic. The Washington Post has further analysis here

There are two main principles at play here Equality and Privacy.

Equality: This concept of net neutrality states that regardless of the type of file, be it a text document, a YouTube video, a Netflix Streaming video or a piece of music, should be treated the exact same. This means that ISP’s cannot charge more or downgrade priority on the heavier traffic like movie files. This is important because if ISP’s have the power to regulate content by type they can also wield this power to influence other items. Comcast could increase the speed of Hulu streaming videos (it is acquiring NBC afterall) while downgrading the speed of NBC videos creating an imbalance. This is not a stretch of the imagination as ISP’s have already used this power to shutdown various filetypes from downloading.

Privacy: I believe that we have an inherent right to privacy. We may give up that right by using services like Google, but that is personal choice (this video from Google explains a lot about how they treat your privacy). However while we are giving up our privacy to google by using their services, should we also give up that privacy to ISP’s? If you were shipping a box via FedEx to your buddy Alex you are relinquishing your privacy to Alex. Should FedEx have a right to see inside, analyze, and keep a copy of your package? Should Comcast be able to do the same thing when you send your information to Google?

As a blogger and a user of the Internet I can’t but help want Net Neutrality. I want my content treated equally and securely kept private. To me this is a principle of liberty, particularly when the Internet is used as my primary source for news and politics. I do not want access to that content being controlled by a corporation, by anyone for that matter. However in order to maintain this principle of liberty we need to have regulation in the ISP market.

In this crazy version of politics I am ideologically favoring Liberty, however I must realistically side with government regulation in order to maintain that liberty. So my dear readers (*ahem Ben) Is this a Libertarian approach or an Authoritative approach?

My Glee Audition

Hi everyone.  As many of you know I have recently auditioned for Glee. Below you will find my videos. If you can please watch the videos and then follow through to the links where you can add a comment to the video or simply “like” the videos that would be amazing! I am really pushing for this and would love your help and support!

Monologue:
Glee monologue

Glee | MySpace Video

Song:

Glee song

Glee | MySpace Video

Series 42: Authority and Liberty

Living in DC I am constantly surrounded by theories and ideas. And as a moderate I find that the biggest unanswered question comes down to the great question. Namely, do you provide incentives to or restrict the choices of individuals in order to shape their lives, or do you let individuals make their own unregulated choice leaving them to face the consequences?

On the political compass this is seen not as an ideological shift of right and left (Conservative or Liberal) as much as a shift of up or down (Libertarian or Authoritative).

On any given issue I am torn between two poles. Do I allow individuals to make their own decisions consequences be damned? Or do I, feeling that I know what’s better try and guide things in that direction? As an overall ideology I don’t think that I can make that distinction at this point in my life. I can try to look at it on a case-by-case basis, but I feel the need to solidify my underlying ideology.

The TV show LOST seems to be demonstrating this principle on some level with two characters, Jacob and MIB (literally Man in Black), who have two philosophies on people. Jacob believes that people can discern between Good and Evil without his help and intervention and MIB who believes that Evil is inherent to humanity. The viewpoints of these individuals aptly demonstrate the dilemma that I face: Jacob the Libertarian & MIB the Authoritarian.

Lets use some real life examples to demonstrate this dichotomy.

Example #1:
The marriage of Same-Sex Attracted Mormon writer Ty Mansfield is set to take place on May 22nd. Ty and Dani met 13 years ago before falling off the grid until around 2008 when they became Facebook friends. In December of last Year they spent 2 ½ weeks with each other and not until the middle of week two did Danielle even realize that Ty was actually dating her. Then a few days later, the last day before Ty went back down to Texas, they DTR’d. That same weekend, Danielle thought that Ty was the man she was going to marry.
To most of the world 3 weeks of dating doesn’t create a marriage, it creates (as one of my coworkers put it) a lustful affair. Add to that that this will be a mixed-orientation marriage and you can see why many of the links on my blogroll are lighting up in controversy over this.
I take a different approach though. I realize that I don’t have all the information. I am not Danielle or Ty and so how would I know what was best for them? How can I presume to have the answer for them? In this regard I have to take a step back and have a Jacobean perspective and let Ty and Dani make their own choices.

Example #2:

California is proposing legislation to legalize marijuana. The argument most often used is “It’s my body and I can put what I want into it. Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?” This is the very answer that leaves me asking, “Do I let you make your own choice to smoke marijuana or do I think I know better that you and prevent you from doing so?”
By looking beyond individual rights and instead looking at how a greater effect I am left with a feeling that the legalization of marijuana would greatly deteriorate the state. It will increase tax revenue which could in-turn ease the tax burden on small business owners providing jobs to the unemployed. It will shrink the black market and lower some crime rates and thus save lives. But in my mind it will also infect (yes, infect the citizen’s with a substance that I feel alters their ability to make rational decisions.
Again I don’t have all the information and so, do I take the Jacobean perspective and let them decide for themselves or do I take the MIB position and control their ability to make that decision? In this case I feel the need to continue to criminalize marijuana despite its ineffectiveness, despite its financial cost. Because I think I know better I am willing to shape policy to restrict individual rights.

So where does this put me? Am I Authoritarian? Am I Libertarian? Does it even matter if I find my balance point between Jacob and MIB? How does this all relate to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers? To Religion? To Gay Marriage? To Education? To Net Neutrality? To the Wisdom of the Crowds?  To Life the Universe and Everything?



I don’t know!

For me, All that’s known is that I don’t have a solid ideological platform.

Yet!

This will be a developing series of posts and, because they seek to answer the life the universe and everything, it has been dubbed as 42. 

About This Blog

I have been pretty busy with life in DC but I have created this blog to fill many of you in with what is going on in my life. It is where I will rant and rave and flesh out my own internal ideas and policies on politics, religion, exercise, GLEE, etc.

It is the blog of an unashamed, unabashed Gay Mormon who has a lot of ideas in his head. Some of them may suck, some of them may be great, and some of them may come from far off in left field. If you have the time please let me know how you feel about my writings and ideas. Leave a comment, shoot me an email or just click the new buttons below.

The title and URL are both taken from the musical Spring Awakening. As I was looking for audition music a couple of months ago I discovered the song “All That’s Known.” The protagonist, Melchoir, sings it at the beginning of the show. To me it represents the beginning of a Hero’s Journey.

Melchoir, dissatisfied with the lack of free thought, sing about how he knows that there is so much more to find. He can tell simply by looking at himself. I relate to this song and also know that there is far too much that I don’t know. So the title of the blog – “All That’s Known” – serves as a constant reminder to me that I have yet to discover all that’s known and that I need to keep pushing to go, as Lewis states, Further up and Further in.

The URL, David’s Awakening, serves as an allusion to the musical. It also is symbolic of when I am starting this blog. I began this blog with a copy of my talk at a fireside re: homosexuality and the Church. When I moved to DC I made a promise to be honest, completely honest with everything. That being said I wasn’t going to broadcast my sexuality.

This fireside was the turning point in that personal policy. I realized that staying silent about who I was was actually causing me to lie. I would avoid questions, answer with non-gender specific pronouns, etc. I realized I was going back to my life as a lie and knew I had to change. I had to have my own rite of spring as it were and awaken into a new person. A person recommitted to honesty, a person devoted to being who I am regardless of the views of others.

And so I David Baker am a 21-year old policy wonk, gay, Mormon, a fencer, a blogger, a priesthood holder, a thinker, and someone who has his whole life ahead of him, it’s time for me to begin my own hero’s journey.

Healthcare Fallout

“This is a big F*CKIN deal!” – Vice President Joe Biden

Living in DC has its advantages and its disadvantages. First and foremost, everyone has an opinion on everything. While this may seem overwhelming, I see the lack of apathy here as refreshing. I hear about topics as mundane to me as the 2010 census or the tax code discussed with such vigor that it makes me swell with patriotic pride. 2 weeks ago the protesters were in full swing. There were protesters on Immigration, an HRC Rally on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell that got, more or less, high-jacked by Lt. Dan Choi, and the Tea Partiers protesting against Healthcare reform (known here as HCR – an easy slip up with HRC haha)

I try to have a sense of moderacy on things, as Friedman puts it I consider myself an “radical centrist.” On HCR, I don’t know fully where I stand. I feel the need for broad sweeping changes in HCR and think that the Government program’s track record is pretty good when it comes to healthcare. (3% administration costs in Medicare vs. 15% in the free market) I also understand the fears that this will lead to fewer jobs. I get the sentiment that this is letting the camel’s nose in the tent. I also understand the need and desire of POTUS to provide life-sustaining care to the 34 Million + American’s who can’t afford health insurance.

If I were a congressman, given the information I have now, I probably would have voted for the Healthcare bill. However I am writing this not to tell how I would vote, but to describe what would have happened to me had I voted for the HCR bill.

In the past 7 days elected representatives have been vilified by other MCs and by raw anger of (mainly) Tea Partiers. Some have been called “baby killers,” others wetbacks, and some members of the CBC have been called other racial and ethnic slurs like the “N” word. Our elected officials have been spat upon, bricks have been thrown through office windows, and several have begun to receive death threats. Many of those who voted on the bill have been targeted by helicopter-hunting Palin and her radicalization of the right.

These are human beings. Would you paint a target on my back if I voted for this bill? would you spit on me and call me a faggot?

This lack of civility; this outbreak of anger, has come from men in the streets and men in suits. We have devolved from any semblance of governance in Congress to an entrenched system dedicated to the sole purpose of “beating the other side to a pulp.” – Steve King (R-IA5)
John McCain, in an election year where his seat in congress is on the line, has vowed for “no cooperation for the rest of the year.” I’m sorry but does that sound like a leader and a maverick to you? I respected John McCain, he was a relatively moderate presidential candidate and a respectable person even in defeat. However he is now acting like a petulant child who didn’t get his way.

I admit that the Democrats manhandled this bill through congress. They used many dirty tricks that, quite frankly make me ticked. Both sides have contributed to this change in American Politics, but if I had to choose between the 2 parties, I would rather go with the sneaky, crafty, two-timing Democrats than with the revenge-driven, rage-filled, racist Republicans.

To both parties I say get your act together. Establish decency in yourselves and in your parties. Because lets face it, this is a big F*ckin’ deal.