Monday, June 22, 2009

How I Became A Republican

Those of you who follow this blog, or know me personally, I apologize for the provocative title and the distinct possibility that your drink went out through your nose when you read it.

I've never been a guy who begrudged paying taxes, or complained because some of them went to causes I was morally opposed to (torturing political prisoners in offshore holding facilities, for example, although I certainly complained about the practice. I think that socialized medicine is not only a good idea, but it will be a necessity at some point. I've even run up against various local regulations that limit what I can do with my own property from time to time, but since I'm not trying to skirt around such issues in order to make a profit, it's never really bothered me.

Now I've run up against intrusive government, and it's making me pretty angry. I guess it could be worse, seeing as I'm not the guy the government is causing problems for, at least directly, and it's not really even my government because it's Washington State and I live in Oregon. But it has given me a little insight into why so many people in the country hate big government.

I will note that, as with most things, it's really *what* the government is doing, not so much that they are doing something. The most right-wing soy bean farmer on the planet is thrilled to get a subsidy, but furious when his taxes go up by $10. Let's let all of the hypocrites on both sides of the political fence moan away, preferably out of earshot.

The problem has to do with the domestic violence laws in Washington State. If you are arrested (not convicted, arrested) on a charge related to domestic violence, there is a no-contact order put into place almost immediately, with a default term of two years. Think about that for a second. If you have an argument with your spouse or significant other and anything gets damaged in the process (and I mean anything - there's anecdotal evidence that if you chip a plate that's enough), you've damaged the other person's property in the course of a domestic dispute, the police can charge you with malicious mischief, arrest you, and you aren't allowed to see your SO for the immediate future, which will probably be for at least a month or two.

For chipping a plate.

Don't get me wrong. I have very strong feelings about spousal abuse. I feel that women have for far too long been victimized by a justice system run by men who were perfectly happy in how things were. But a one-size-fits-all treatment of crimes under this banner is simply ludicrous, were it not tragic. It's like justifying colonialism because the wogs can't govern themselves (which is occasionally true, but at the same time ignores the problems of colonialism).

I'm very sure that there are people who have avoided serious injury or death thanks to the current law, and that's fantastic. I'm just wondering why there isn't a law that does that *and* protects the rights of those who are not only not guilty of anything more than getting into an argument with a loved one, but also those who are the alleged victims.

There has been quite a bit of press, as I've found in my research, full of cases with people who had no idea of the consequences when they dialed 911. In some cases, it was dialed by other people who heard the argument. And that's the real problem here, although it's not limited to Washington. My niece and her husband got into a huge fight when they lived in Phoenix (near Ashland in southern Oregon). She outweighed him and had I been in his shoes I would have tried to call 911 too, as he did. However, she ripped the phone off of the wall as he did so, triggering a police intervention. When they arrived, they were in the street and he was holding her by the wrists so she couldn't attack him. The police assumed he was attacking her and arrested him.

The DA in the case was crusading against domestic violence in that part of the state, and convinced my niece to testify against him. Because he also had a sex crime record (for mooning someone when he was 18 - really), he ended up having to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, when he was the one who called for help! On the plus side, he finally figured out that my niece wasn't worth staying with, and filed for divorce immediately afterwards. He was a really great guy, and even my entire family offering to testify on his behalf couldn't save him from a DA with a political agenda.

The net result in my mind is that when you are unable to see your spouse (and possibly your children) because *you* called 911, there's a problem. What the answer is, I'm not sure, but too many people are ending up in a situation they never intended and it's all because of intrusive government that was intended to protect people. It's doing far too good of a job. I don't know that this will make me a Republican (or at least a conservative - I think the Republican Party as it exists now will die if Obama is still president when the economy recovers), but it gives me a much clearer idea of why some feel the government is out to get them.

I'm still happy to pay my taxes, though. Especially when I get some of it *back*.


Greg W said...

Hating stupid laws doesn't make you Republican, it just makes you rational. :D I'm curious if any of those well thought out laws came from the initiative process.

Anonymous said...

"Hating stupid laws doesn't make you Republican, it just makes you rational."

Which is the first step towards making you a Republican.

Seriously: if you don't like the one size fits all approach to domestic violence, wait until you see the one size fits all approach to health care decisions.

Dug said...

Funny how the comments that disagree with me are always anonymous. At least on the political sphere.

What makes one a conservative is liking the way things are/were and not wanting change (or wanting it back the way it was). What makes one a liberal is wanting to make things better, which means change and often means new.

There's a balance between the two that's completely missing in American political thought.

Healthcare is an excellent example. The system as it is is broken, pure and simple. Many of the complaints about reform coming from the right are all problems that are in place now, and they're coming from a great many people who already benefit from socialized medicine. At the same time, my mother subscribes to Tricare's CHCBP program (essentially COBRA for widows of military officers), and it's a freaking disaster. But it's better as a Medicare supplement than the alternatives.

We *have* a one-size-fits-all approach to health care decisions, and those decisions are made based on providing increasing equity to shareholders. The rest of the industrialized world has abandoned this model for good reason. Perhaps it's time for us to do the same.

BTW, I didn't actually become a Republican. I'm still registered as a GDI, and will be until I die. Parties are for people who would like someone else to tell them how to think.