The last few years have been less than satisfying as a country. And, especially, as a truly independently minded individual. But I have found, in the debates, in the conflict, in the resistance, in the defense of country, in the morass, in the angst and anger, there is an America. And there is a desire to be a new America. But it does not rely on any association with existing labels. It defies party. It defies labels. It is rooted in history but does not marry it. It is both who we ARE and who ASPIRE TO BE.
I was raised in a working class family. Although we lived in a middle class neighborhood. My dad was a labor leader but he led inside the building trades and was known to be the right wing of that movement. I was born into a Lutheran family and regularly went to that church, but for college I went to Marquette University a conservative, private Catholic university in Milwaukee. Even that was in between as it was a Jesuit University and so a great mix of social justice and social conservatism. I worked for SEIU and AFSCME after Law School and was a reform oriented voice within both to ensure we represented ALL member's voices in our actions. I worked for nearly five years inside Governor Jim Doyle's administration as his Chief Information Officer. While he was a Democrat, we managed the finances of the taxpayers as fiscal conservatives. We offered better services through technology, but also at a much lower burden to taxpayers. We lowered property taxes, as Democrats. I fought the bureaucracy daily and yet absolutely love and respect the civil service and what they do for society. I left the public service to pursue my new world in Corporate America. I drove billions of dollars of revenue at Microsoft, Salesforce, Digital Realty and Socrata. I have served as top five officers a few times, been on quarterly earnings calls with the street, raised money from venture capitalists, sat on and responded quarterly to Boards of Directors. I dearly love capitalism and its absolutely equal science. I fight to ensure that my companies apply business principles to the capitalist ideals in ways that are fair and profitable to employees, management and shareholders. I have read AND understand Ayn Rand. I was forced to read AND understand Marx at Marquette. I have studied nearly every philosopher in the mainstream. None of the buckets of my experience line up entirely with the reality I experience daily.
Politically, I understand the Democrats. At least their history. I am unsure where they are heading today. While they are funded by labor, they do not reflect the wishes of union membership across the boards. Identity politics was needed for a certain period of time, but does not have an end game. I far further align with Malcolm X at the end of his life, when he had become a true humanist.
While most of my core beliefs line up with Libertarians, the radicals in that enclave make them hard to support. As I will get to, I do believe that maximizing liberty is one of the answers, but I do not believe in absolute freedom in a modern society (printing plastic guns is evil). While I am generally libertarian, I am nearly always a defense hawk. But in between, I believe we must use smart power, define missions with clear exit constructs and we must end engagements far earlier than we do. I believe deeply in freedom of religion, but do not believe that it extends to an offensive obligation when it is at odds with things like access to public markets. When people want to sell goods and services, they need to abide by certain norms that they may not agree with. Their liberty is always protected as they are not forced to join a public market, they can choose to not engage in public market commerce as the exchange is not in line with their world view.
I thought I understood Republicans, although these last few years make me wonder. It is clear that the freedom loving, constitutionalist, free market thinkers are folks I could hang out with. The nationalist, authoritarian loving, NATO hating, immigrant bashing, misogynist, market interventionist GOP is not identifiable to me right now. I do feel that after 2020, this will revert to the mean, so I will ignore them for this analysis. While folks used to call me a closet republican, it is fair to say they no longer say that. I will welcome the real GOP back, when they wake up.
In Between is not Moderate, Middle of the Road
I am far from milk toast. Because I don't believe in everything the dems do, or much of what the GOP does or a few of the things the libertarians do, in no way suggests that my beliefs are not deeply held. Quite the opposite.
When folks attack collective bargaining, they should expect war from me. And when countries don't allow us to use their airspace, I will openly attack. I hate eminent domain, market manipulation including QE, discrimination, misogyny and homophobia. When President's exercise our power with weakness I engage regardless of party. As I do when we ignore our responsibility when things swing backward globally, nationally and locally. I believe we, as Americans, have an obligation to engage and lead.
So where does that leave us?
I would love to say eliminate political parties. But that leaves us with a bit of electoral chaos at scale. We need parties to aggregate voter agreement every few years. I could be convinced to turn to a parliamentary view of how it could work, but that would clearly be long term reform. In the short term I think we can do some other things.
I hear most of the smart world saying they are fiscally conservative, socially liberal. It matches to what we watch on TV and support at the movies. And when we boil down to ideals or principles like freedom, it does seem to capture both. Freedom to live our lives as we see fit, freedom to individually live our lives freed from how we were born, freedom from governmental control of markets or production, free flow of commerce, information and movement. When freedoms expand to a point at which they conflict, then we must understand them within their context, public or private. Concerns over private activity, need to cede to freedom of individuals. Concerns over public activity, like selling into stream of commerce or trading in public markets, must cede to the greatest public good. Freedom is maximized when government is managed with tight fiscal responsibility to create sustainable and efficient public goods. The government that governs least, governs best. This does not mean that government should be eliminated but that it should be seen as a necessity to provide the optimal mix between fiscal conservatism and social liberality.
What about Democracy?
We must decide on direct or representative. If we have chunks of the populous giving up its authority to representatives and others directly engaging we have an asymmetric and unfair war. If it remains a balance, we need to be clear about how the population should engage. Regardless, democracy, direct or indirect, is the preferred structure of self government.
As such we do need to use it as a guide post for foreign activity. If we are strengthening democracy overseas, then investment and alliances make sense to fund and support. If not, we need to also foster change in other regions of the world without dictating what those indigenous populations want. Soft power, influence, in ways reminiscent of how Reagan's administration destroyed the Soviet Union come to mind.
And when we ally, we do so long term, and with fraternity. We are not shallow and distant in our support, we act as brothers and sisters.
And we grow...
Growth is what Americans are about. Not regression. We create. We innovate. We build. We learn. We push. We fight. We sing. We argue. We fight some more. We rise. We stand. and we do...not...stop. We created rock and roll. The internet. The automobile. The airplane. And with our diversity we have found our strength.
We will create platforms that allow all of us to grow together. Marketplaces with reach into every city in the country and distribution to every corner of the world. As we create equal access to the handles of capitalism, we view profit as moral and earned. Shared public infrastructure to ensure the flow of data and commerce will be a burden equally shared and exploited. Investment in advanced digital infrastructure will be driven in the private sector but enabled by joint deployments for the public good as well. When government deploys to accomplish service goals it will leverage capital spend to ensure the private sector can take advantage of the change. And the public will benefit from the capital deployments and be vested in foundational growth in the country.
Liberty, Democracy and Growth
Three precepts to drive a New America.
Not bad for a bunch of folks riding on the "In Between". Maybe thats because the In Between was based on artificial concepts created decades ago. It is time to recreate the concepts. To demand something better. Something new. To fight for it. Hijack parties as needed. Make them do the bidding of people. And ensure that a broad based beautiful America remains on the other side.