I'm a Republican. Yes, I know: a lot of my views seem too "worldly", or worse, dare I use the "e" word... too euro-friendly. To be fair, I did live in Europe many years, and in recent years I've been traveling there for work. So it should not come as a surprise that I'm impressed with a lot of Europe's accomplishments over the centuries.
But enough about those eccentric Europeans. If I had to point to that one thing that drives the fundamental genius of the United States, I would say it is the two-party system. In a planet that had only known a my-way-or-the-highway party system for thousands of years, the two-party system has to be that paradigm shift that evolution was looking for. Nice try Italy, by the way, for trying to come up with a 16-party system. I love my home away from home, but seriously. On the other extreme, you have to love Yacov Smirnoff’s famous quote: “America, what a country! In America you can always find a party. In Russia, party always finds you!”
But back to my Republican ways. My opening statement will certainly come as a surprise to my close friends, who have often heard me describe myself as an Independent when it comes to politics. I can almost hear them exclaim: huh?
My reply is simple: did you really understand what I meant when I said I was an Independent? When somebody proclaims to be an Independent, there’s a lot of eyeball rolling and “go away” arm gesturing in disappointment. Apparently all that is heard is “I’m not going to tell you how I really feel, but you can file me under ‘waffler’”. Or just as bad, they’ll simply “file” you under the other guys’ party. Not that I’m willing to cater to the over-simplistic knee-jerk reactions, but I thought I would try something different: every time I talk about my political views, I will do so in context to what I feel is important at that precise moment.
But let me be even more precise: I don’t believe that the drama of single-party convictions is what we need to continue to be a world leader. I understand that to be a true two-party system some people actually have to have some type of single-party convictions. And that may very well hold true indefinitely, IF we were talking about the same handful of values that were important 200 years ago. Sure, most of them still apply today in one way or another, but some don’t. Slavery comes to mind. Women’s roles is another one. And then there’s the newer realities that didn’t apply then at all (the environment, space exploration, abortion, health care, to name a few). Well, this may come as a shocker to most of my bleeding-heart conservative AND liberal friends (you know I love you ALL :) but: we are not living in the world of 200 years ago. And when it comes to values, I’m sorry, but one size does not fit all.
So I will borrow from the “Serenity Prayer” to make my final point here: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things that are best handled by Republicans; the courage to let Democrats change the things they can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”