Sunday, February 7, 2010

Democratic Republican

I came up with the italicized statement (below) about my political leanings just before an important interview at a university in the event someone were to inquire about my political affiliation as a sort of litmus test for the position. I wanted to have a response at the ready. I've been in academia long enough to know that, sadly, faculty search committees, whether fully consciously or not, are often looking for someone who agrees with their own political ideology.  Readers of this blog might know by now that I'm both an academic and a soldier.  I'll tell you what: institutions of higher learning, as a rule, don't come close to the U.S. Army when it comes to tolerance and diversity of opinion.  You can bank on that.  Anyway, Murphy's Law being what it is, I didn't get the question because I had planned for that contingency!

One more thing before you read the statement below.  Students of history will point out that the term Democratic Republican is not new.  Indeed, this was the party of Thomas Jefferson in opposition to the Federalists.  While the current Democratic party traces its origins to Andrew Jackson in the 1830s, the Democratic Republicans, loosely speaking, anticipated many aspects of the Democratic party.  To add to the confusion, Democratic Republicans back in the 1790s referred to themselves in abbreviated form as Republicans.  (Der Viator readers are aware that the Republican party of today, however, begin in 1856 in Wisconsin.)  My usage of the term is different, as you'll now read.

Sometimes people want to know my political allegiance. In truth I am a Democratic Republican. I affirm democracy and I believe in a republic. I’m for a two-party system. I always want an opposition that freely voices its contrary views and provides a check on the majority party. In this sense I’m for Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Reagan. But my favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt. I suppose this choice reveals something about me, but less my political ideology—after all, TR was a maverick Republican and later third party candidate—than the personal attributes and concerns I like in a president.