In a politically engaged environment like Claremont, where you stand on "the issues" comes out fairly early in a first-time interaction. It made me think that I’ve never chronicled such an answer on my blog.
Where I stand on hot button / political issues (that I can think of):
- I believe that democracy and capitalism are the best systems around which to organize a society, and that these values are universal but will be adopted by non-democratic countries over the very long term, not the short term.
- I believe in the power of markets and would prefer if government did not try to mess with markets.
- I believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion.
- I think protectionism is idiotic, and that no American has any God-given right to any job. Let the best man win. There should probably be some
- I think a minimum wage increase does more harm than good, but it’s a close call. Earned income tax credits seem more logical.
- I think affirmative action hurts its intended beneficiaries more than help, but it’s a close call.
- I believe in taking proactive steps to fight the effects of global warming. I’m an environmentalist. Clean energy policy strikes me a good. I know little about the actual technologies.
- I don’t believe in a military draft because I don’t think it allocates a country’s labor very well. But women should register for Selective Service, and homosexuals should be able to serve openly.
- I have no position on healthcare because I know next to nothing about it.
- I’m wary of excessive foreign aid and wary of the rock star status guys like Jeff Sachs and Bono have obtained.
- I support immigration — both high skilled and low skilled — and think anyone who isn’t a criminal and wants to contribute to the country should be allowed in.
- I’m not a fan of unions — they usually strike me as irrationally dogmatic and hurting its intended benefiaries more than help.
- I think our education system is screwed up, and therefore I support experiments such as vouchers and charter schools.
- I think there was a case to be made to go into Iraq and oust Saddam, but it has been executed with criminal incompetency and any American under the age of 30 now has no choice but to follow at least the basics of what’s going on, as we’ll be dealing with the country for years and years to come.
- I have no position on Israel / Palestine since I know little about it. (Same is true for many other foreign policy debates.)
- I believe in gay rights and gay marriage.
The sum of these positions usually fall into the suddenly very sexy category of "socially liberal, fiscally conservative," which naturally is represented by neither the Democratic nor Republican party. So you must decide what you care more about: the social issues or economic ones.
I hope and expect that I will change my mind on these issues over the course of my life. I contend that people rarely change their political views over their lifetime and that most people are life-long Dems or Repubs. Some of my friends disagree. I have yet to find good data around this question.