Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Real Mid-Term Elections

As some of you may know, next week the BYU-I College Democrats will be holding officer elections for next semester. Over the last month or so I have been asked numerous times, both by members of the club and by others, whether or not I was going to run for a position.

My answer has consistently been the same, I would be happy to serve in any way the club members would like me to, but I will not nominate myself for any positions. I would like to take this chance to explain why I feel that way.

It’s not an issue of commitment. I have attended just as many, if not more, meetings this semester as any other member (and I include the current officers in that category). I am the only active member of the club who contributes regularly to this blog (Peter has been so busy this semester with other obligations that he can rarely make it to the meetings anymore, which no one blames him for, but the fact remains). I don’t think anyone could rightly question whether or not I would fulfill the responsibilities of any of the offices.

However, the club doesn’t just need someone who will “do the job”. While it has survived its first year back on campus that is no guarantee that it will survive it’s second. What the club desperately needs right now is leadership. It needs leaders who can build it, guide it, and forge it into a lasting presence here on campus. Anyone can manage it, but it needs dedicated people who are committed to the Democratic ideals to make it great.

That is where the problem lies. No matter how active I am, no matter how many submissions I contribute to this blog, the fact remains that I am neither a Democrat nor a liberal. I don’t know that I can contribute the level of energy, enthusiasm, and leadership that the club needs. The club needs people who truly believe in liberalism, and the Democratic party to build it, while I am happy to help in any way I can, I don’t think I am what it needs or requires.

That being said, if in a week the members decide they want me to fill an office, then I will do so to the best of my ability. I just hope that people more qualified than I will step to the plate first.

20 comments:

dem said...

u r cool

Blake Roberts said...

More like "i b cold", it's freezing up here.

Julie in Boise said...

Blake, are you sure you are not a Democrat?

We saw in the midterm elections that many Republicans realize that their party has left them behind. The Democratic Party is a big tent. Many Idahoans have difficulty acknowledging that the Democratic Party is not what talk radio has branded it to be. But if you care about all people and you believe that government can play some small role in making people's lives better, you may well be "one of us."

Jessica said...

I don't want to really speak for Blake, but if he is like most Mormons, he is opposed to gay marriage and is pro-life. However, many Idaho Democrats would classify themselves as pro-life and opposed to gay marriage. Blake should take a look at the state platform as opposed to the national platform and decide if he may, in fact, be an Idaho Democrat but national moderate Republican...

Blake Roberts said...

I'm pretty confidant that I'm not.

No, I do feel somewhat left behind. I am of a more traditional Republican mindset; I don't like neo-conservatives or their grip on my party. But, just because I'm not happy with it doesn't mean that I think the Democrats have better solutions. As of right now, I'm stuck between the Republicans who claim to believe what I do and then don't do it, and the Democrats who don't claim to believe in what I do and live up to that claim.

So, left between these two choices (and being a recovering member of a third party and not wanting to sail on that boat again), I would rather side with the group that at will at least tell me what I want to hear, and hope that they will start living up to it now that they got kicked out of Congress.

In time perhaps the Democratic Party will become conservative enough for me to want to be a member of it, but as of right now it is not.

Blake Roberts said...

In response to Jessica, I am neither an Idaho Republican, nor a national moderate Republican. I'm a conservative Arizona Republican, which means I am basically not represented anymore on the national level (except for my Congressman).

Having associated with Idaho Democrats for some time now, I can say very clearly that I am not one. Having associated with Idaho Republicans for sometime I can say I am not one of them either.

To draw a reference, I'm closer to the likes of Barry Goldwater and Ezra Taft Benson in my political views (neither of whom, despite how much the College Republicans likes to claim them, have much in common with the current Republican Party).

Blake Roberts said...

In case Peter, Hannah, or anyone else that knows me reads this, would you consider me an Idaho Democrat?

dakine said...

Ouch. Blake with a jab at the College Republicans! Is there a little resentment there or something? haha

Blake Roberts said...

It is not meant to be a jab at them.

I am actually a member of the College Republicans; I attend the meetings as faithfully as any other member in the club. We just don't always see eye to eye on things, primarily since they are mostly neo-cons, which I am not.

Joe said...

Blake,

What makes the members of the BYU Idaho College Republicans neo-cons?

Joe

Blake Roberts said...

That is a good question Joe. I would like to point out that I said "most" since there are likely other forms of conservatives at the meetings, but they do not seem to voice their opinions like the others.

Reason 1) According to Irving Kristol (who is often referred to as the "godfather" of neo-conservatism) when describing neo-con policies in his article "The Neoconservative Persuasion",

"One of these policies, most visible and controversial, is cutting tax rates in order to stimulate steady economic growth."

"Neo-cons would prefer not to have large budget deficits, but it is in the nature of democracy--because it seems to be in the nature of human nature--that political demagogy will frequently result in economic recklessness, so that one sometimes must shoulder budgetary deficits as the cost (temporary, one hopes) of pursuing economic growth. It is a basic assumption of neo-conservatism that, as a consequence of the spread of affluence among all classes, a property-owning and tax-paying population will, in time, become less vulnerable to egalitarian illusions and demagogic appeals and more sensible about the fundamentals of economic reckoning."

I think it would be safe to say that this approach is the one taken by President Bush's administration. This approach has been discussed in the CR meetings, and has been defended for a variety of reasons. I have not yet heard a CR member either in the meeting or in private conversation (besides myself) suggest that this is not a good idea, so I can only believe it is the prevailing belief among the members that this is the economic policy we should be following.

Next, as opposed to the more traditional conservative view of a more isolationist stance on foreign affairs, neo-cons are more in favor of an active U.S. foreign policy. One in which you can "above all, have the ability to distinguish friends from enemies," and "it is a fact that if you have the kind of power we now have, either you will find opportunities to use it, or the world will discover them for you"

Kristol points out, "our current president and his administration turn out to be quite at home in this new political environment, although it is clear they did not anticipate this role any more than their party as a whole did. As a result, neo-conservatism began enjoying a second life, at a time when its obituaries were still being published."

This can be seen in President Bush's speeches about how the world is either "with us or against us", and the idea that it is better to fight a war in Iraq and keep the terrorists there, rather then risk them coming here (I admit that I remain a supporter of the war in Iraq, but for different reasons). Both of these ideas/policies have been praised in the CR meetings, and again they have found little or no voiced opposition.

Finally, neo-cons "do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on "the road to serfdom." Neo-cons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable."

I have yet heard anyone besides myself in the CR meetings complain about the "big government" that is forming under the Bush administration. Issues such as "No Child Left Behind" are federal programs that intrude on the rights of State and local governments to conduct education, and run counter to the traditional conservative notion of "smaller government" and "state rights". They contribute to the welfare state of America by directing more federal oversight over its services and citizens. If other members of the CR's share the belief that these programs are harmful, or want to see some of our nation's welfare services go away, then I would encourage them to speak up. Much is said about not expanding these services, but little about restricting or removing them.

Now, I do mean to say that neo-cons are bad or evil. Maybe they are right, and I am just being old fashioned. But unless someone can give me a reason that they are not primarily neo-cons, I will continue to think of them as such. If they are not, then I would ask that they stop acting like they are, since it is very confusing.

If you disagree with my assessment of the CR situation, then please feel free to say why. I would like to think that I am wrong, but the more realistic side of me feels that I am not.

The reality is that we will continue to have friction between the neo-cons and the paleo-cons for some time. I hope the paleo-cons win.

Peter Nguyen said...

Blake, I agree with your assessment. Always glad to see you around.

Sorry I haven't been around everyone, just getting over me after-election depression.

I'll try to post my thoughts soon.

Anonymous said...

Blake did you win?

Blake Roberts said...

Well, since I did not run for any office, I don’t think it was really possible for me to win or lose. However, I was nominated by the newly elected President to serve as the Secretary for the club. I accepted the nomination, was unanimously elected, and will be serving in that capacity next semester.

Anonymous said...

And you are a Republican? How embarrassing for both you and the democrats club.

Blake Roberts said...

Why is that embarrassing?

Many prominent Conservatives have worked with or for the Democrats at one time or another. Ronald Reagan, for example, was originally a Democrat, and a strong supporter of both Roosevelt and Truman.

Further, by building up the Democratic Party at the school, I am helping the Republican cause. By having a strong Democratic presence on campus, providing ideas, discussion, and differing views, the Republicans will have to improve and progress to maintain the position they now enjoy. This means they will have to do things better then before in order to compete.

Just as monopolies are harmful for businesses and economies, an unopposed political party is harmful for society. If it means I help build up an opposition party on this campus, then so be it. I feel my ideas are better, and if they truly are, they will prove themselves not just in spite of opposition, but because of opposition.

I don’t find it embarrassing, I am honored that they trust me enough to represent them. They are not embarrassed, they are willing to ignore partisan prejudice and do what they feel is best.

joe said...

The BYU Idaho College Republicans probably can sit back and do nothing and still continue to "maintain the position they now enjoy." I don't think that you being the secretary for the CDs is going to do much to help CDs take over the campus or whatever it is that you would like to do. I don't really see why you wouldn't run for office in the College Republicans, Blake, if you really wanted to improve the current state of the Republican Party. It seems to me that you are going about things in the wrong way. But that is just my opinion. Have a good day.

Blake Roberts said...

Hey Joe, thanks for post!

I think that you are right when you said that, "I don't think that you being the secretary for the CDs is going to do much to help CDs take over the campus." I don't pretend to think that I am going to somehow usher in a new age of Democrats on campus. Nor do I want them to take over the campus. What I do want to see is political diversity, and I do think I can help increase the level of it on this campus.

As for the issue of not running for office in the College Republicans, I would be happy to fill any office in that club. Perhaps I will run for a position. That being said, I don't really think the club wants me in an officer position. But, you raise a good point. As much as I hate to nominate myself for things, perhaps I will run for an office next semester (provided the school will allow someone to hold multiple positions, which I will have to check up on).

And you may very well be right when you say that I am "going about things in the wrong way". Maybe I am. But, I remind you that I did not volunteer for this, I was asked. I want to see the College Democrats succeed, and so while it may not be the best solution, it is the one that seems to be of the greatest mutual benefit. Believe me, no one is more concerned about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of my choice more then I. In large part, I will be the one reaping the fallout of it for years to come (if for no other reasons then the fact that my family never lets things die).

You are a smart guy Joe, so let me ask you a question. If I were to run for office in the College Republicans, do you think that the club would want someone like me in leadership?

joe said...

Blake,

I am no longer involved in the leadership of the College Republicans at BYU Idaho so I will not speak for the club in general. However, since you asked for my opinion then I will give my personal, unofficial opinion. I would not, and many other members would not vote for you given your allegiance to the College Democrats. There is no rule that would prevent you from holding office in both clubs, but I could see a conflict of interest. Can't you? However, if you decided to step down from your position in the College Democrats, then you would stand a much better shot at being elected or appointed to a position in the CRs. It is obvious that you know a bit about politics and I'm sure you would be a valuable leader in the CRs.

Blake Roberts said...

Thanks again for the response Joe,

You are right; it probably would be a conflict of interest. Since I have already made a personal commitment to the CDs, I won't run for any Republican positions this upcoming semester.

I have a second question I would like to ask, I hope you don't mind. I think you are right about your opinion that "many other members would not vote for you given your allegiance to the College Democrats." So my question is this: do you mean my holding office in the CDs, my writing for this blog, or my attendance of their meetings? Or perhaps some combination of those three, or something I am overlooking?

The reason for my asking, I must admit, is a personal one (if there are any psychology majors out there that have any insight into the matter, let me know). I have always been curious as to how people perceive me, and why. I admit to being a horrible judge of things relating to myself, so I find the easiest way to find out is just to ask. Maybe it's vain of me, but what can I say, some people collect stamps.

I realize that you can only speak on your own behalf, and I understand if you would prefer not to answer.