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BLOG: The Decision Tuesday

Don comments on the upcoming election.

This piece is different than most.  I usually try to lay out clear ideas on a subject of interest, and support it with logic and research.

Today, I want to simply express an opinion.

This election on Nov. 6th, 2012 is not about people, or parties, or issues. This election is about one central idea, and all the other issues and talking points and controversies flow from that central idea.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are not central to this debate. As I point out in this post, politicians are largely captive to public opinion, and to their supporters.  They are vessels carrying the agendas of those who support them. The election, therefore, is not about the agenda of the candidate, but the agenda of his supporters.

On the ballot this Tuesday is really only one question: Will we take responsibility for ourselves?

Many other questions and answers flow from this one. Will we hold ourselves and our neighbors accountable for their actions? Will we allow our government to do to our neighbors what we would never do ourselves? Will we value our freedom, and pay the costs, or sell our freedom for a little “security”? Will we rely on what we earn, or will we demand our neighbors provide for us? Will we take full responsibility for our own choices, or will we expect our government to make many of our choices for us?

When I was a child, we presumed that the most precious thing we had was our freedom, and we understood that freedom came at a price. That price was not only the sacrifice of our soldiers, but also the cost of making mistakes. A free society must contain a measure of chaos, and a measure of danger. It comes with the territory.

The engine of our prosperity, and our amazing wealth—and we are tremendously wealthy—is our free enterprise system. The very markets that have been demonized in the last 4 years as “risky” and “corrupt” are the same ones that brought us the prosperity that raised our standard of living far beyond anywhere in the world, with an almost continuous record of progress for the last 50 years.

As Milton Friedman has pointed out, strong economies depend on freedom, and freedom depends on economic independence.

... and freedom also depends utterly on the discipline and virtue of the people.

On Tuesday, we will have a choice between two ideologies. One believes that freedom is less important than “security”. It believes that equality of results is paramount, and that evidence of unfairness can be found in every instance of inequality, and government must correct unfairness. Individual merit is little more than happenstance. Personal responsibility is an exception, not a rule. It is something to be considered an ideal, not a requirement.

The other ideology is less well articulated, because the virtues of egalitarianism and compassion have clouded its vision. The latter ideology is coming to see, through the excesses of the current political environment, where the current ideology is taking us. It has no single champion, but a phalanx of groups, pundits and candidates grappling with the issues. They don’t have crystallized solutions, but they understand the central role of personal responsibility, the importance of individual merit, and how freedom, strictly limited government, and the wisdom of our founders is a far better foundation for our future.

On Tuesday we will make a choice. Will it be for leaders that will support personal responsibility and freedom, or leaders who will grow government, and try to buy our freedom from us with our neighbor’s wealth.

Choose well on Nov. 6th.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Plato November 06, 2012 at 12:29 AM
It's interesting how casually the word "freedom" gets bandied about, especially when it comes to the freedom to marry. It's your party that is attempting to needlessly grow government by adding an amendment that would institutionalize bigotry in our state Constitution, using it to restrict freedom instead of grant it. You've gone on record here supporting limiting the freedom of gays to ever get married in Minnesota, but your blog post here trumpets your commitment to freedom, even as you prepare to use government to take away someone else's. It's like their freedoms don't matter. (And what better symbolizes personal responsibility than marriage?) You can offer a litany of reasons why you think you're right to do this, but each of them requires you to acknowledge how hollow you and your party's commitment to freedom and limited government actually is. Wish you had the courage of your convictions on this one.
Donald Lee November 06, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Thank you for your comment. Our ideals are based on inalienable rights, not rights granted by government. The idea that marriage is a collection of "benefits" is a profound misunderstanding and twisting of the institution. The corresponding demand to be equitable in "distributing" those rights flies in the face of our ideals on several levels. If anything, the "benefits" should not be conferred, rather than "equitably" distributed. The purpose of the marriage amendment is to affirm the status quo, and ensure that changes are done according to the normal political process, not by judicial fiat, or wholesale by re-defining words. Connecting this issue to "freedom" is tenuous. The other issues surrounding marriage are well hashed in other places on patch. Remember that freedom of association is an important freedom, too. I have a right to pick my friends - and my customers. Commercial activity should not negate basic freedoms.
John Plato November 06, 2012 at 01:20 AM
"Connecting this issue to 'freedom' is tenuous." I'm sorry, I just have to laugh at this. I suspect if it was your marriage being outlawed, you would not find the connection to freedom so ethereal.
Donald Lee November 06, 2012 at 01:33 AM
The marriage amendment outlaws nothing. The law will recognize the same marriages on Wedesday morning that it did Tuesday morning, regardless of the outcome of the vote. The poison in this issue is the insistence of SSM advocates that freedom to apply faith, and the morals that are part of faith, should be subservient to the political correctness - "anti-discrimination". You can argue that this is "wrong", but cannot deny that freedoms are being limited. Freedom to "marry" is not the same as state recognition of marriage. Even presuming that "freedom to marry" is connected to the amendment, that "freedom" is customarily described in terms of what it would force people to recognize, condone, and approve of, regardless of their wishes. Maybe tenuous is not the word. Twisted is more accurate.
John Plato November 06, 2012 at 04:01 AM
"The marriage amendment outlaws nothing." At least champion what you're voting for instead of denying it is what it is. You are outlawing the possibility that marriage can be legally recognized in this state between two gay people in love. That's not nothing. That's huge. Don't play word games with it. You wrote above that, "if anything, the 'benefits' [of marriage] should not be conferred, rather than 'equitably' distributed." If you'd said, "I won't vote to make gay marriage unconstitutional because it's wrong for the state to decide what is and isn't a valid marriage," we wouldn't be having this exchange. Instead, you've advocated the opposite: that good people vote to use the state Constitution to limit others' civil liberties instead of expanding them. I doubt I'd have posted at all except that you pontificated so expansively about freedom and responsibility and limited government. None of those values are consistent with voting to outlaw gay marriage. Again, if it were your marriage on the ballot, you'd be singing a different tune. I do think that even if gay people offend your religious sensibilities, or make you uncomfortable in other respects, that's no reason to deny them the right to marry each other. After all, we're all just trying to live together and find happiness in our own ways, and that's what our government was made to secure: "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Ray November 06, 2012 at 12:45 PM
"The poison in this issue is the insistence of SSM advocates that freedom to apply faith, and the morals that are part of faith, should be subservient to the political correctness - "anti-discrimination"." Whose faith Donald. Exclusively Yours ? "Even presuming that "freedom to marry" is connected to the amendment, that "freedom" is customarily described in terms of what it would force people to recognize, condone, and approve of, regardless of their wishes." When people of the state make that decision then yes you and I have no choice but to recognize, condone. You need not approve of, but then you haven't proven ever how it affects your marriage and your rights
Ray November 06, 2012 at 12:47 PM
"On Tuesday, we will have a choice between two ideologies. One believes that freedom is less important than “security”. The other ideology is less well articulated, because the virtues of egalitarianism and compassion have clouded its vision." Some how Donald confuses crony capitalism and tax cuts for the most wealthy, while we as a country have enormous bills to pay, as some kind of shining beacon of capitalism.
Ray November 07, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Donald, the people of spoken. The've rejected the concept of a narrow vision of religion and citizenship being forced down their throats. Obama President, Voter ID defeated, Discrimination against gays defeated. People have a clear view of who caused this mess.
Donald Lee November 08, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I thank you all for your comments. There is considerable confusion on this issue. First, note that SSM is not legal today any more than it was on Monday. The legislature might take up the cause in January. Marriage was not destroyed by the failure of the amendment. SSM was not instituted by its failure. Second, there is confusion over what marriage is. Opponents of the amendment conflate the legal recognition of marriage with the institution. Marriage is not so small an institution that it is at the mercy of the details of its state sanction. Common law marriages have long existed, often in spite of the statutes. The word "marriage" means something specific - a union of a man and a woman. Using the same word for a different institution - SSM - does not make the two insitutions the same. Hijacking the word does not hijack the institution. The durable institution will persist. New language will arise. The honor of the institution will go with the institution, not with the word. The honor is not captive to the old word. The institution of marriage is rooted in biology, and supported by tradition and faith. It will endure regardless of the law, as long as human beings procreate. (continued - part 1 of 3)
Donald Lee November 08, 2012 at 12:21 AM
SSM is rooted exclusively in the revolutionary urges of those who wish to make non-marriage "the same" as marriage. While we can argue about whether this is desirable, but SSM is not rooted in biology. It cannot be supported by the same social conventions because the biology isn't there. SSM isn't the same because it is fundamentally different. "Equality" can be ginned up to a pint, but only at cost, which I have detailed elsewhere. (as have others). The cost of SSM is largely the twisting of law and logic to treat men and women as interchangeable in an area - reproduction - where it is really absurd to do so. The law currently recognizes these differences, and one of the agendas of SSM proponents (i.e. 515 project) is to remove that recognition. The other massive confusion on this issue is the same one as with health care, welfare and education, where we confuse "rights" with "benefits". An individual in a free society does not have any right to demand that his neighbors provide what he wants, whether what he wants is health care, education for his kids, or recognition of his marriage. We seem to have crossed a line, where the government now has the role of ensuring that all those "necessary services" are the core of what government does. Education, health care, housing, and now recognition of our social choices. (SSM being a social choice). If there is need, or unfairness, the LAW has the job of "equalizing" the situation. (part 2 of 3)
Donald Lee November 08, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I would hope that even if you believe that this is justified by "community standards", it is necessarily a real problem for freedom, because it dictates that I may not choose what I support. This is true because I am forced to pay for the choices of others, but also because even in my private choices, the law becomes a threat. As an example, let's presume that SSM is legally recognized in MN, and "anti-discrimination" law is extended to those who are so inclined. Let's say I believe that homosexual activity is sinful, and do not want my young children exposed to what I consider sin. In this environment, if I want to rent out a room in my house, and the renter strikes me as a bad influence on this score, the (potential) renter would have a legal lever to force me to rent my room. This may or may not be desirable depending on what you believe important, but it most certainly puts the law firmly on the side of the renter's right to display his "preferences" over my desire to avoid these displays by renting the room to people I believe to be good influences. With this flavor of sexual morality, practicing, and faithfully following my faith is made illegal. The amendment having failed, we should watch the courts, and the legislature this January. I will continue to support the institution rooted in biology and supprted by tradition and faith. It is not an optional institution, but one on which our survival as a society depends.
Ray November 08, 2012 at 12:29 PM
The "institution of marriage" is not exactly a franchise of your Church or mine. Your Church can honor its own marriages, as long as it does not expect the state to honor only its definitions of marriages.
Ray November 08, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I'm not exactly in the business of "revolutions". Again Donald, you are entitled to ANY definition of marriage your church and you choose. However don't expect the state to rubber stamp it. This is not Poland or Saudi Arabia. Nobody is asking my neighbor to provide any benefits or recognition. Society as a whole has determined what common benefits we provide. If your upset that your narrow definition of rights and benefits were rejected, then that's your problem. Your Church had its choice, it supported and fully publicized its definition of marriage. And the people rejected it. Live with it.
Ray November 08, 2012 at 12:53 PM
If you don't want to expose your children to what you consider sin, then when you rent a room, all you got to do is have a stipulation in your lease before you rent, that no visitors allowed. Simple. You will not have gay sex in your house. And i will not have orgies or polygamists in mine. Also what you ignore is the law (i'm not an expert here) is slightly different for room rental. Even i could be sued, for exactly the same reason, if i rent a room and my tenant starts having a religious revival in my house. Your entitled to support whatever you choose. We have a wide variety of beliefs in this country, including mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses, Quakers, Muslims, Hindues, Pagans. And i think we've done quite well when we've asked each of them to practice what they choose, and not shove it down others throats.
Donald Lee November 08, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I want to thank my faithful readers. The political decisions made on Tuesday are one more act in a very long story that is driven by changes in our culture. Elections have consequences. There will be future elections that will deal with the consequences of this election.
Donald Lee November 08, 2012 at 04:23 PM
It is difficult to tell in the comments whether people cannot see, or simply refuse to see what I am trying to point out. I am trying to cut through the talking points, and find the inflection points. The logic of the opposition to the marriage amendment puts the value of "anti-discrimination" above other values, including freedom to associate, and freedom of religion. It further suggests that ideas based on faith should be excluded from political debate. Our founders would be appalled at the suggestion that faith would be excluded from the public square. There is no religious freedom if that freedom is confined to the church building. There is no freedom of association if the power of the state compels your choices. The concept of right and wrong - morality - usually comes from your faith. You cannot claim the right to choose your own ideas of right and wrong, without in a way setting up your own religion. Enshrining those ideas into law creates a de-facto state religion. In this case, the "state religion" based in part on "anti-discrimination" is openly hostile to what has recently been called "mainstream" judeo-christian morality and religion. It is important to look beyond the talking points, and understand how the ideas fit together. I hope that my writing is helpful.
Ray November 08, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Actually, reading the statistics of who voted for the Amendments, it looks like a lot of people voted against them because they were repulsed by attempts of the few to enforce their belief system on others. Even majority leader Kurt Zellers states now that it was a mistake.
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Ray November 10, 2012 at 02:55 PM
How does "anti-discrimination" negate freedom of association and or freedom of religion. The Amish, Quakers etc seem to have no problem practicing their faith in a modern society. I guess the litmus test of your definition of freedom is whether you deem that your views of religions should be the societal norm in the public square. Religion has never been confined to the church building. The church building is where your religious views can be the only standard. Such being not conducive to the public square. Freedom of association also implies freedom from association. Amish live in their separate lifestyles and no one has a problem with, However when they step into the public square in their stores etc, they seem to have no problem allowing gays and other religious to visit them. Our country is a compendium of multiple faiths, even if you do not consider some of those religions as religions. Our laws are the result of those faiths. Not a single faith. We do not conduct inquiry into the source/validity of each of those faiths. Your entitled to as an individual, just like Billy Graham calling mormonism a cult or Franklin Graham calling Islam evil, however don't expect the state to reject Mormons or Muslims and their views cause they are not "religions". What is "mainstream" judeo-christian morality - your version of morality ? Most people who voted on Tuesday where christians who came to the polls with their version of morality.
John Plato November 11, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Donald, I'm just curious: You've framed your freedoms in business terms, including the right to refuse to rent a room to a gay man simply because he is gay. Would you really do this? And how far do you defend this principle? For instance, you own a rural motel, and a gay couple whose car has broken down trudges in needing a place to stay for the night. Would you turn them away, personally? Do you think the law should support this kind of discrimination, or protect against it? What about a pharmacist who refuses to fill the prescriptions of gay customers? Does he have that right, in your view? What if he is the only pharmacist in town? Let's say a gay couple is injured in a car accident. Should a doctor or a hospital have the right to refuse to treat them, and let them die, because they are known to be gay? Should the law support this kind of discrimination? As a side note, it's strange to me that you would use your faith as a justification for this kind of discrimination, since Jesus welcomed the most despised, outcast members of his society, and the parable of the Good Samaritan to explicitly chastise the kind of turning away you defend. But I'm interested in your thoughts.
Donald Lee November 11, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Isn't there some automatic way to get this garbage pre-approved, or even blocked? The pattern should be fairly easy to detect. ????
Donald Lee November 11, 2012 at 08:16 PM
No one does anything for a single, discrete reason, and no one can see inside someone else's head to see how a decision was made. The scenarios you describe suggest that a lack of charity or kindness is only to be condemned ONLY if it is motivated in a particular way. Wouldn't kindness and charity be an expectation of everyone in most any circumstance? If I live in a rural area, and strangers come to my house and want to get in, I have a right to keep them out. Mere suspicion is sufficient to cause me to keep them out. After all, they may not be benevolent. Think "In Cold Blood". Freedom is about not having the authorities second guess what you do. It is about being clear when you are on the right side of the law. "anti-discrimination" law goes directly to those areas. It pre-supposes that my "reasons" can be determined, and whatever I do can be judged good or bad depending on my motives. Put this together, and what you get is thought crime. If a black couple were to break down near my rural house, and I refuse to help them, it is perfectly legal, unless there is evidence that I have spoken ill of blacks. The crime becomes the "prejudice". The scenarios you suggest are simply instances where kindness might be socially required, but legally should not. Should we be required by law to help homosexuals in distress when otherwise there is no legal requirement?
John Plato November 11, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Wow. I have to say, I'm really shocked. All the situations I've mentioned have to do with selling a service or running a business, not gays suddenly banging down your door to get into your house. You really think it should be legal for a hospital or a doctor or a pharmacist to let a man die just because they discover he is gay? I guess I'm asking this again, even though you've already made it clear, because I just don't want to believe you really mean this. You broaden the example to include a hypothetical "black couple", as well. Are you saying that we should allow racist hospitals that treat whites only in the name of "freedom"? I'm really just wondering how far you go with this.
Ray November 12, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Donald, you are dodging the question. Every one of John's questions related to hypotheticals relating to a hotel, doctor. You deliberately segued them into hypotheticals regarding your door step.
Donald Lee November 12, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I'm trying to talk about principle, and the logic of the law. There are tradeoffs, and values sometimes come into conflict. I try to illustrate those conflicts, and where the inexorable logic of the law leads. I'm trying to illuminate, not argue.
Ray November 12, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Donald, how can you talk about the law, when John or I are asking you about Hypothetical A and you talk about Hypothetical B. This is not about tradeoffs, conflicts and or logic or the law. You simply are evading the question. Why ?
John Plato November 12, 2012 at 07:12 PM
"Values sometimes come into conflict" is an awfully euphemistic phrase for allowing someone to die because they're gay.
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