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Did De-Conversion Change Your Politics?


RaLeah
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I'm curious: How much did your prior Christian faith affect other areas of your belief system? 

 

I wanted to ask this community if they found (like I did) that once their beliefs changed on religion, whether they changed on other things as a consequence? (Or simultaneously. Or first.) 

 

I'm not trying to start a political debate, I'm just very interested in reading some first-person accounts of anyone whose other belief systems changed as a result of their change in religious beliefs, and in what way. (Or maybe even if their changes in other beliefs helped influence their de-conversion.)

 

I'm not sure if my change in other beliefs assisted or simply solidified after my de-conversion, but gay rights was a big one for me. I grew up in a very conservative home (and school and church) that taught me gay people were sinful and shouldn't marry each other or adopt children. Once I started working as a waitress (at age 17), I met a lot of gay people who were awesome (and very patient with my stupid questions) and I came to see them as not sinful at all but certainly discriminated against. I felt that part of the bible must surely be wrong or out-dated. 

 

After I fully de-converted, I switched from Republican to Democrat. I researched a lot of the issues I'd simply taken for granted as black and white issues before: abortion, welfare, health care, etc. I was actually surprised I had to think each of these issues through as much as I did, and also surprised I ended up changing my mind on so many things after my research (and I strive to be continually open-minded to new information rather than close-minded, because I'm sure it's not as if I have all the ethical answers to life all figured out!) 

 

My support for workers' rights increased as well--once I didn't think god was blessing me for my faithfulness by keeping me and my family employed and successful, I had to see that other people who were down on their financial luck didn't deserve it as god's punishment or as a lesson to make people depend on him or convert. 

 

(I switched to believing in evolution rather than a literal 7-day creation story before I de-converted, but it did help me see the bible stories as meant-to-be metaphors and myth rather than literal truth. So that influenced my religious beliefs rather than the other way around.)

 

I guess I'm thinking through how much a belief in Christianity affected so many other areas of our lives and thoughts, I'm wondering how much changed for everyone else here? Did it change as much for people who were more liberal / progressive Christians? Did anyone go from Democrat to Republican (or does it mostly go from Republican fundamentalist to Democratic liberal?)

 

Did anyone else go through changes in other beliefs they held as they de-converted? 

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No, but I will admit that I have modified some of my prior political leanings. I have sensed an underlying assumption that people who are not religious will gravitate towards political liberalism though. I get the impression the general thinking is that religion and political conservatism go hand in hand just as being non-religious mandates a liberal political perspective. Based on the demographics of the country such an assumption would appear to have some validity.

 

I don't believe either pure capitalism or pure socialism works very well. They both have serious unintended negative consequences. The U.S. has, IMO, successfully combined the two concepts and emphasized the best virtues of each system. It seems clear that Americans are willing to accept some of the more beneficial elements of socialism.

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Actually, it was pretty much the opposite for me.  My politics led to my deconversion.  I had always been very liberal - minded: pro-choice, pro - marriage equality for homosexuals, pro-evolutionary theory, etc.  I had my doubts about some parts of the bible,  but was able to rationalize them to the point that I thought I could believe in both.  And I thought others did, too.

 

Then I began to see all of the hateful posts by christians on Facebook this past election season and became totally disillusioned with religion. I had no idea that so many religious people held such bigoted, misogynistic, or anti-science beliefs. My doubts grew larger, and I searched the internet for answers. I also began reading Hitchens and Dawkins on the recommendation of a friend, which eventually led to my complete rejection of belief in god.

 

I often wonder if I would have ever come to be an atheist without FB and the internet!

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I'm not sure which came first. Growing up I was very conservative. I was a huge fan of Rush Limbaugh, anti-gay, anti-abortion, and the first time I voted I just checked the straight Republican box. 

 

I think the big issue that changed with my faith that I felt was most directly related was my stance on gay rights. I'd met one gay person in my life (a distant cousin) and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy, but my family always had the the attitude that although he was a nice guy, what he was doing was wrong. As my attitudes towards the Bible started changing, so did my stance towards gay rights, because it was something explicitly forbidden in the Bible. 

 

Other things happened at other times. I shifted from a Republican to a moderate early on (although I'm pretty socially liberal now). My stance on abortion became more liberal much more recently. So really, my views on social issues and politics and my religious views are more of a chicken or the egg type thing.

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I did change politics from Republican to Democrat. Well, sorta. There was a bit of a libertarian phase in the middle, and I still think that my ideal 2 party system would be Libertarians and Socialists (and no, I don't think either of those labels applies all that well to the US's current two parties).

 

I was raised Republican fundy, the type who lean towards Christian Dominianism, who think that "freedom of religion" ought to be "freedom to be any denomination of Christian". They don't think we should outlaw people practicing other beliefs, they just think that no one who holds those beliefs ought to be allowed to run for office, that the US laws should reflect (their view of) Christian morality, and that evolution should be banned from public schools.

 

The first thing I was suspicious of was the evolution debate. Once I realized how distorted of a view of science I was raised with, I also got suspious of the constant denials of global warming. And then I started to realize that gays are ok, and that I'm ok with abortion being legal and I support equal rights for women.... so I went from a social conservative to a social liberal. I wanted the government to get out of people's personal lives. I thought about joining the Libertarian Party.

 

A bit later, after a lot of talks with friends, I realized that the reason my parents leaned economic conservative is that they honestly believe that many people on welfare have less human value than good middle class people. Now, I realize that this is not necessarily the viewpoint of all libertarians, but my parents believe that if the government was more hands off, that only the people who deserve to be poor would be in poverty. They consider having wealth to be a sign of a hard worker, of a moral person. (Oddly enough, they've often complained about being one of the poorer people at church and how unthinkingly cruel the richer people can be to those they consider beneath them.) And then I realized that if the government didn't provide some sort of social net, then anyone who had bad luck in life would be at the mercy of people like them, of people who moralize all the circumstances in your life as a direct reflection of your value as a human being. That thought is horrifying. I've also got poor friends who work hard but have serious but treatable health issues and no middle class family to help them out - they're physically incapable of working a full time job with benefits until they get the health issues taken care of, but they can't get the health issues taken care of until they have a job with benefits. What in the world are they supposed to do, and how can you call them immoral and lazy for not working hard enough to be rich? So now I think that we need just enough socialism to make sure that everyone who wants to work has the capacity to do so. I think that, instead of turning them into lazy entitled slobs, that government assistance can end up getting more people into the workplace, and more people working means less poverty, and less poverty means less crime, and less crime makes middle-class me less likely to be a target of crime. But I still think we need to watch our social programs very closely to make sure that the end result is what we wanted, so we need people in office who scrutinize the social spending to make sure it's done responsibly.

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For the most part my political leanings have stayed the same. Issues such as Abortion and Homosexuality I haven't had much of an interest in researching. I don't know where I stand on those issues, honestly except that I believe people should be able to do with their own bodies as they please and marry who they want.

 

I'm pretty much for "freedom" in the most liberal sense of the word unless that specific freedom is at the expense of others. I think I've always embraced the golden rule and even though I've disconnected from the faith, I know that is truly the most rewarding way for individuals and humanity to live so my politics still reflect that.

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Once you smell bullshit in such a profound area of your life the bullshit detector revs up and you start, whether you like it or not, to detect it elsewhere too.

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Thank you, all of you, for responding, and this is exactly what I hoped to read. Great personal accounts, and I really appreciate it. We don't seem to talk so much about how changing our belief in religion affects other beliefs we hold. This is really meaningful to me. 

 

And I like the idea of the bullshit detector -- once it's on, it's hard to turn off in other areas of our lives. 

 

I also like mulling over the idea of chicken and egg -- which comes first, our concept of fairness / realization of science and /or history, or the change in mind on religion? 

 

Please share if you haven't already. I'm trying to piece together the de-conversion process ands how it connects with other shifts in thinking. 

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My politics moved clear across the spectrum over a few years, and that change greatly sped up in the last of those years (07-08-ish) which coincided with the year it took to deconvert. (You know, I really wish the autocorrect on my iPod recognized "deconvert." It keeps asking if I mean "reconvert" or "decongest." Anyway …)

 

I'm not sure how much one affected the other. Of course gay rights and abortion were the big two, as usual.

 

My family had fundie (my autocorrect just switched that to "gunfire," sheesh …) beliefs but pretty much lived like normal people. They were all Democrats, but it was the church school they sent me to and the friends I made there that recruited me to the religious right and made me the lone Republican in the family.

 

I was a fierce supporter of Bush (UGH!) I didn't get to vote in 2000 because my 18th birthday came three days after the deadline to register, but I gladly voted for him in 2004 (ugh, I'm so sorry.) I just couldn't believe all the hate he was getting.

 

I never was one to simply think my religious views should be legislated and imposed on others or that laws should be made simply based on them, at least not without some secular excuse tacked onto it to make it seem legitimate.

 

I voted to amend my state's constitution to exclude gays from marriage and it passed. My little "excuse" was that marriage was a matter of community acceptance and as part of that community I was being asked for my approval. At the time I was in an online feud with people who insisted that calling homosexual acts sinful meant I hated gay people. To this day I feel that was never true; I didn't have any emotional investment in the issue, save for my strong objections to being called a bigot. It was just part of the dogma, and I accepted it because it didn't make sense to deliberately take shortcuts in accepting the whole bible. Of course that went right out the window when I deconverted.

 

I'd always been on the fence about whether i personally supported abortion, but in a strictly legal sense I generally leaned toward letting the mother decide until the third trimester. The claims that the bible was against it seemed like a stretch to me and calling it murder always looked ridiculous. Not much has changed, except that I now support the right to terminate at any point. I most of all think this type of thing is a health issue and should be decided upon by medical ethics committees instead of government. That it's instead treated as a hot button political issue is beyond disgraceful.

 

Economics: that's an embarrassing one. I knew the bare bones, elementary facts about what the economy was and how it worked but not much else. I'd never have admitted it to myself, but I assumed that since the Republicans had the right side socially, they were the right team to be on in general. I just pretended to be way smarter than I was. Most people probably do. I still think that capitalism is the best economic system we've come up with do far, but it has deep flaws.

 

Foreign policy: same as economics, but more shameful. Yay Bush, send our boys to die in an expensive pointless illegal war, I'm sure you know what you're doing.

 

Climate change: sounds kinda scary, but none of that will matter by the time god gets back here. *Sigh.*

 

Evolution in schools: I was a YEC, but recognized then as I do now that evolution was the consensus the scientific community agreed upon and as such should be what is taught in science courses. I might have bought into "teach the controversy" at some point but I mostly thought creationism should be left to religion as social studies or at least a book in the school library.

 

Gun restrictions: learning the skills, getting a license, and owning a firearm was something I kind of wanted to think about doing, so of course I was an expert. They can have my hypothetical gun when they pry it from my cold dead hands! :facepalm:

 

By the 2008 election I had fully deconverted and was thinking of not voting. But then John McCain had that moment where he had to settle down the attendees at his own rally because they were so fear stricken by his campaign. He came off as a good man who had gotten involved with the wrong people. Then of course his running mate proved she was dumber than I was and I sure didn't want her to be an old man's pacemaker from the presidency. I voted for Obama, who was singing my new song. I heard some of the warnings that his track record was all sizzle and no steak, but he was the lesser of two evils.

 

In 2012, I was better informed but disappointed enough in both parties that I again considered not voting. I felt like such a mark when I thought about going to the booth. Then I was encouraged to look at third party candidates, and I voted for Rocky Anderson. He met me on the issues better than anyone else on the ballot, and I now believe that's the only thing that should matter.

 

But I also think voting should be considered a bare minimum, and if we want it to stop being a joke we should be doing a lot more. Sometimes I wish I could follow BO's example and raise all hell (sounds fun) but I can hardly manage to get serious about my own life, let alone politics.

 

Keeping an open mind and not pretending to be smarter than you are is the way to go. That's what I've taken from this.

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Even as a believer, I always wanted to know why any political position was supposed to the "right one". I simply couldn't accept simply being told what to believe. As a result, my political opinions were not always in keeping with church demands. (For example I was all for universal health care long before I deconverted.)

I think the only big difference between then and now is that I don't care about politics so much anymore. As a believer, I thought national and global morality had eternal consequences. Now I realize that isn't the case. I don't have to fight god's battles on every front. I can just let things be.

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Yes, mine changed, too.  I think some of my political beliefs, like Julilyn, helped solidify my de-conversion as well.  I'd always voted conservative, but began to question the anti-choice and anti-gay stances that my party and churches seemed to encourage.  I felt frustrated with the anti-choice stance as these same people were preaching abstinence only and making it hard for woman to access birth control and even getting in a frenzy over the idea of free condoms.  I didn't feel it was my right to judge anyone who wanted to have sex before marriage, if they used birth control or a condom, and if it came to it, I had no right to judge them for getting an abortion. (My religious beliefs also seemed in extreme conflict with the founding beliefs of my country-- USA--- supposed to be freedom for everyone, live and let live kinda thing, I always thought).  I got really annoyed and aggravated with the whole stance on gay rights.  Why couldn't these people just marry and the religious people stay out of it if they wanted to (besides the churches who supported it, quite a few ones will march in Pride parade).  

 

I had a co-worker once who was gay and showed frustration when another co-worker, Mormon, said that she didn't agree with his lifestyle but believed in hating the sin, not the sinner.  He didn't really know I was a Christian at the time or even that I agreed with her, but I remember him expressing how frustrated he was because she was still saying she hated a part of him (they were good friends except for this). And, you know, I found myself thinking about it and completely agreeing with him. 

 

So I had pretty much changed several beliefs and was becoming quite a liberal Christian (I had already read Misquoting Jesus and a couple other books that really made me question how much the Bible put down women, thankfully).  Also, after watching and reading Freak O Nomics, it cemented my views on abortion.

 

Though, I really think we should be past the whole gay rights, women's rights thing. It should be left up to the individual and that should be end of the story.  The fact it's a huge dividing factor for the parties is kinda annoying.  Those were the two major issues I struggled with as a believer.  I had already accepted climate change, rejected young earth theories, was already VERY frustrated with the wars, I had already been frustrated with what I believed was invasion of privacy rights after 9/11 but saw no way around that (the internet, traffic cameras everywhere, geeze, if God didn't know all the wrong I was doing, the US sure did), and health care coverage, I was also very annoyed with how religious my party seemed to be (which should have made sense since my Mom always said, "check all Republicans because they are all Christians").  

 

Shortly before total de-conversion, I became kind of into the New World Order conspiracy stuff and that got weird and most of them seemed to be Ron Paul supporters, but a couple months into that, my bs meter started going off-- a lot of it was from 9/11 truther sites.  All politics kind of make my bs meter go off because I really do think we should be way past a lot of the points politicians are currently debating.  Now I finally understand why this one Canadian made a map of the USA under their country and labeled in Jesusland, though I was insulted at the time. Politics is frustrating, but I don't want to not vote, either because that won't get anyone anywhere.

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I found prior to my deconversion, my personal views changed from conservative to rather Libertarian in some sense. I believe the term "South Park Republican" is sometimes used to describe how I was. Certainly I found that I had become quite liberal on social issues. Following deconversion, I have both liberal and libertarian leanings, but I admit that I have much uncertainty about what is truly "right."

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The radical political left’s version of Utopia, IMO, is just as unrealistic and convoluted as the radical right’s Christian based version. Pure socialism is just as unrealistic and unworkable as pure capitalism.  I came to the realization years ago that radical extremism proposed by either the left or the right results in tyranny. The ultimate goal of both groups is to create a ruling class that has total and complete control of the military and the three branches of government. Extremist political groups from both the left and right should be feared.

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The radical political left’s version of Utopia, IMO, is just as unrealistic and convoluted as the radical right’s Christian based version. Pure socialism is just as unrealistic and unworkable as pure capitalism.  I came to the realization years ago that radical extremism proposed by either the left or the right results in tyranny. The ultimate goal of both groups is to create a ruling class that has total and complete control of the military and the three branches of government. Extremist political groups from both the left and right should be feared.

 

I agree that extremist political groups hold dangerous ideas that should be rejected. I haven't actually heard of any specific far left group in the US that's advocating for pure socialism. I think also, the majority of people in modern first-world countries recognize that a mix of capitalism and socialism work best, and just quibble over where we draw the line (health care, for instance, whether that should be publicly funded by the govt or privately by insurance companies). I do think some on the radical right here would like to get rid of all things they consider socialism (medicare, social security, unemployment benefits, food stamps) and go with a strict free market sort of capitalism. 

 

In their economic views, I think Republicans tend to prefer less government (and govt regulation), more private companies; Democrats are concerned about keeping some social safety nets provided by the govt in place. I also think, when a country is going through recessions or depressions or unemployment is high, it makes both sides more strident and combative. Republicans want to go with austerity and cut taxes and govt spending, Democrats fight to increase govt spending to make up the slack in private employment and recognize that more people who are out of the workforce will increase the need for food stamps and unemployment benefits. 

 

When times are prosperous, it seems easier to find compromise in the middle, because there's enough money to go around. Scarcity brings out the meaner side of people--to make up for the lower amount of revenue taken in by taxes during times when unemployment is higher and fewer people are paying taxes, Dems want to raise taxes on the upper class; Repubs want to cut benefits. 

 

Just mulling it through a bit. I think the social issues are only one part of why people choose their political party. The economic issues are just as important though. I think a lot of Republicans and Democrats let the social issues become more important, and savvy (shrewd / scheming?) politicians use that to their advantage. 

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My parents and the environment I grew up in were hard-core Republicans. (I think that my father uses conservative politics as a foil for not "experiencing" Christianity on a spiritual level). I was an in-the-closet deconvert at the same time that I started realizing that it was going to be as hard to keep my mouth shut about my social political views as to pretend to be a Christian.

 

One of the things that made me unable to accept the type of religious/conservative beliefs of my family and church was realizing that they were heavily focused around punitive measures in a system where rich white Christians got to decide whose behavior to punish. For example, any discussions about welfare were always focused on welfare queens and people cheating the system rather than reform or finding practical ways to help the unemployed and uneducated obtain work at liveable wages. They acted outraged and personally hurt, as if they were more affected by societal injustice than someone using welfare to buy cigarettes.

 

When I was married to a fundy Republican (who threatened that if I didn't vote for Bush, he would find out and make sure that I was publicly humiliated), I had a pregnancy scare once. And my very first thought was- how I can have a secret abortion. Later I thought about whether that was hypocritical in the sense that I believed abortion was murder but would have one myself and I realized that I didn't think abortion was murder or that it was always the wrong choice, and so the way I was hypocritical was allowing others to think that I did condemn abortion when I didn't. (I didn't do pro-life events or give money to specifically pro-life groups, but anyone would have thought I condemned abortion by the church I went to and the people I associated with). ETA: I didn't not think abortion was murder BECAUSE I would have had one, but I hadn't been active before that in distancing myself from the pro-life crowd.

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The radical political left’s version of Utopia, IMO, is just as unrealistic and convoluted as the radical right’s Christian based version. Pure socialism is just as unrealistic and unworkable as pure capitalism.  I came to the realization years ago that radical extremism proposed by either the left or the right results in tyranny. The ultimate goal of both groups is to create a ruling class that has total and complete control of the military and the three branches of government. Extremist political groups from both the left and right should be feared.

 

I agree that extremist political groups hold dangerous ideas that should be rejected. I haven't actually heard of any specific far left group in the US that's advocating for pure socialism. I think also, the majority of people in modern first-world countries recognize that a mix of capitalism and socialism work best, and just quibble over where we draw the line (health care, for instance, whether that should be publicly funded by the govt or privately by insurance companies). I do think some on the radical right here would like to get rid of all things they consider socialism (medicare, social security, unemployment benefits, food stamps) and go with a strict free market sort of capitalism. 

 

In their economic views, I think Republicans tend to prefer less government (and govt regulation), more private companies; Democrats are concerned about keeping some social safety nets provided by the govt in place. I also think, when a country is going through recessions or depressions or unemployment is high, it makes both sides more strident and combative. Republicans want to go with austerity and cut taxes and govt spending, Democrats fight to increase govt spending to make up the slack in private employment and recognize that more people who are out of the workforce will increase the need for food stamps and unemployment benefits. 

 

When times are prosperous, it seems easier to find compromise in the middle, because there's enough money to go around. Scarcity brings out the meaner side of people--to make up for the lower amount of revenue taken in by taxes during times when unemployment is higher and fewer people are paying taxes, Dems want to raise taxes on the upper class; Repubs want to cut benefits. 

 

Just mulling it through a bit. I think the social issues are only one part of why people choose their political party. The economic issues are just as important though. I think a lot of Republicans and Democrats let the social issues become more important, and savvy (shrewd / scheming?) politicians use that to their advantage.

 

Just food for thought here. Most of what you described is indeed the common paradigm amongst left and right voters, but is any of it applicable to the politicians once they leave the campaign trail and enter office? I think if you pay closer attention, you'll see that these and others are just wedge issues that keep the voters divided and/or appeal to their particular personalities. Once in office, the interests of the true constituents are served regardless of which politician or which party gets elected -- the big money donors.

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Ever since I could vote I have flip flopped between parties, and also registered as independent for a time. My family are all republicans and very anti-union. I wasn't very interested in politics growing up, and so just went along with it, registering as a Republican and voting mostly accordingly. I became completely disgusted with the fundamentalist Christians taking over the Republican party but at the same time I didn't like most of the Democrats either.  Anyway, I am a social liberal but I would also like to see real reduction in the wastefulness of the government and all these wars we have been engaged in lately. I would like to see more spending in the right direction, to feed house and clothe people who for various reasons are incapable of working.

 

Since I stopped being a fundy I have no interest in what people do behind closed doors and the petty judgmental BS that comes out of the Republican party.

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The radical political left’s version of Utopia, IMO, is just as unrealistic and convoluted as the radical right’s Christian based version. Pure socialism is just as unrealistic and unworkable as pure capitalism.  I came to the realization years ago that radical extremism proposed by either the left or the right results in tyranny. The ultimate goal of both groups is to create a ruling class that has total and complete control of the military and the three branches of government. Extremist political groups from both the left and right should be feared.

 

I agree that extremist political groups hold dangerous ideas that should be rejected. I haven't actually heard of any specific far left group in the US that's advocating for pure socialism. I think also, the majority of people in modern first-world countries recognize that a mix of capitalism and socialism work best, and just quibble over where we draw the line (health care, for instance, whether that should be publicly funded by the govt or privately by insurance companies). I do think some on the radical right here would like to get rid of all things they consider socialism (medicare, social security, unemployment benefits, food stamps) and go with a strict free market sort of capitalism. 

 

In their economic views, I think Republicans tend to prefer less government (and govt regulation), more private companies; Democrats are concerned about keeping some social safety nets provided by the govt in place. I also think, when a country is going through recessions or depressions or unemployment is high, it makes both sides more strident and combative. Republicans want to go with austerity and cut taxes and govt spending, Democrats fight to increase govt spending to make up the slack in private employment and recognize that more people who are out of the workforce will increase the need for food stamps and unemployment benefits. 

 

When times are prosperous, it seems easier to find compromise in the middle, because there's enough money to go around. Scarcity brings out the meaner side of people--to make up for the lower amount of revenue taken in by taxes during times when unemployment is higher and fewer people are paying taxes, Dems want to raise taxes on the upper class; Repubs want to cut benefits. 

 

Just mulling it through a bit. I think the social issues are only one part of why people choose their political party. The economic issues are just as important though. I think a lot of Republicans and Democrats let the social issues become more important, and savvy (shrewd / scheming?) politicians use that to their advantage.

 

Just food for thought here. Most of what you described is indeed the common paradigm amongst left and right voters, but is any of it applicable to the politicians once they leave the campaign trail and enter office? I think if you pay closer attention, you'll see that these and others are just wedge issues that keep the voters divided and/or appeal to their particular personalities. Once in office, the interests of the true constituents are served regardless of which politician or which party gets elected -- the big money donors.

 

 

Yes, this is very frustrating.  It makes me not want to vote, but the wedge issues are something I do feel obligated to address, though I do think we should be passed it. I believe we aren't mostly because of $$$.  But what can you do? Wendyshrug.gif

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As a Christian, I was heavily against gay unions and abortions.  My attitude toward the gay community started to change while I was still Christian, and I am still very passionately pro-life.

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