All my adult life I have considered myself socially conservative and labeled myself a Republican. Listening to conservative pundits, I occasionally would disagree with their spin. I did become disappointed with the ineffectiveness of national Republican administrations and congresses, but I've read the platform of the Utah Republican Party several times and have taken issue with no part of it.
I'm starting to think, though, that the labels I happily accepted do not mean what I think they mean.
This week, I completed an online survey at YourMorals.org. The surveys they offer are conducted by social psychologists at three universities. Their research looks at why people disagree about what is right, and how that translates into social and political values. I took the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, which gave a broad overview of my morals. The results surprised me.
At the end of the survey, the site gave a bar graph showing my results ranked against the average results of self-described liberals and conservatives. In only two out of nine rankings did I come close to the conservative morals. Two of the bar graphs put my values in line with Libertarians. The other five bars were either in between conservative and liberal results, or well beneath both.
These results piqued my curiosity, and I wondered if perhaps a political party other than the big two would reflect my political values more. So I read up on Libertarians, since my Liberty and Property scores seemed to be in line with them. I like some of their ideals, but I don't believe their ideals can be realistically applied to society. I'm not Libertarian. The Green Party doesn't fit me well either. (Although, I am giving ear to a friend of mine who says that greed too easily overwhelms our stewardship for the environment and animals. Can I give up my desire for Utah to develop its energy resources in favor of protecting species? That remains to be seen.)
So where do I fit? I think maybe I don't. Kent gave me a link to an interesting TED talk by Jonathan Haidt, who is one of the researchers behind the Moral Foundations survey: "The moral roots of liberal and conservatives." Though he is a self-proclaimed liberal, Haidt wraps up his short lecture by insisting that both sides of the political spectrum need to listen to each other. Liberals consider themselves open-minded and diverse, yet if they are closed to conservative viewpoints, their open-mindedness goes out the window. I agree that both sides need to be present in our society, but more importantly, they need to make compromises politically if we are ever going to make lasting progress.
I guess that means I'm more of a moderate independent.
So will I renege my Republican registration? Not in Utah; especially not here in Utah County. In this state, the only way to have a voice with my vote is to work through the Republican primary process, since it will almost always be a Republican who wins. At each November vote, I can still vote for whatever candidate I like (and it hasn't always been the Republican), but at least I might get a good candidate through the primary elections.
I haven't voted yet, because I'm undecided on our local school board candidates. However, for our national leader, I will be voting for Mitt Romney. Even if Mitt weren't the candidate, I would almost certainly still vote against Barack Obama. In a nutshell, here's why.
My vote for Romney:
Major reason: I liked Mitt Romney during the primaries leading up to the 2008 election. It's not because he shares my religious persuasion, but because I respect him as a businessman. I have wanted a businessman (or woman) in the White House for many years. I think a businessperson will have an understanding of and solutions for our economy that lawyers and politicians just won't grasp or believe. Romney's track record in turning around corporations and giving the U.S. a profitable Winter Olympics leads me to believe that he can do a better job for our economy than most anyone else who has been presented as a presidential option. I expect he'll make budget cuts that will hurt, but that will also make Americans take more responsibility for their own decisions. Yes, I would even give up the EITC or the Child Tax Credit if that would help balance our budget. I also believe he has the right business and leadership experience to negotiate trade relations with China and other countries that we must work with.
Minor reason: I like the people Mitt Romney surrounds himself with. I like Paul Ryan, and I like that Mitt's family members are the ones reaching out to his base.
My vote against Obama:
Major reason: I don't believe he represents Americans well or has America's best interests at heart. I don't generally like how he handles international affairs. I don't like his extravagant parties and vacations in the midst of our tanking economy. I don't like his position on abortion. (He and Michelle Obama are more left on that issue than even many liberals). He has said things that I agree with, and I'm trying to give Obamacare the benefit of the doubt, but overall I don't think he represents the majority of Americans, including many who voted for him as a symbol of a new American era in 2008 based on his race and his "Hope and Change" campaign.
Minor reason: I don't trust the people President Obama surrounds himself with. His close ties with Planned Parenthood and Acorn make me nervous. Van Jones and Reverend Wright are also not good people to have listened to. His extensive use of teleprompters has me wondering how much of what he says comes from his own brain.
Ahhh...my newly self-labeled Independent mind feels better already. Now that all that political stuff is off my chest, I can go vote on Tuesday and take my blog back to happier posts about family events, funny kids, and the upcoming holidays.