Tree of Liberty

treeAs I write this, my neighbors are having a large oak tree cut down. Well, it’s probably an oak, but maybe it’s a maple, I don’t think it’s a walnut. Frankly, I haven’t really paid that much attention.

Full Disclosure: I failed “Tree ID” in school.

Regardless of the tree’s flavor, I quite liked it. I can see it from my study where I write each day. If I had known my neighbors were cutting it down, I probably would have said something – or maybe not. It’s not my tree even if I can see it from my window and even if I personally liked it. They probably have a good reason for cutting it down – or maybe not – it’s their tree.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that if I weren’t a Democrat, I’d probably be a Libertarian. I believe people should generally be free to make their own decisions – even if they’re stupid decisions like cutting down a perfectly good tree. You might think this is my Libertarian streak coming out, but it’s this type of thinking that makes me a Democrat.

Hang with me here – just not from a branch of my neighbor’s tree.

I can personally feel one way – say about the tree – and understand that it’s not my business, but there are times when it becomes my (the collective “my”) business.

In today’s world, big business and big billionaires need big government to balance the scales. (As long as big government doesn’t become big business run by big billionaires – the jury’s still out on this one.) My neighbor’s tree felling isn’t going to hurt me one way or the other (well, unless it falls on my house), but a corporation completely deforesting an entire ecosystem will. One person can’t stop a corporation from doing this since green (not of the leafy variety) is strong motivation. It takes a big (Democratic) government to step in.


Let’s take another example.

I’m personally pro-life. In simplistic political terms, this makes me a Republican – but not so. I will argue the pro-life position all day, every day, but If I’m talking to a woman considering abortion, she’ll have her own reasons for the act. And may be they are good reasons for her situation (her situation, not mine). In her cute shoes, I wouldn’t make the same choice, but I’m wearing a different pair of cute, but completely impractical footwear.

In this scenario, Libertarians and Democrats think similarly about the issue – the woman is free to make her own choice. Even if I personally disagree with her choice. Republicans on the other hand want to force the woman to make the government-approved choice. Do-it-my-way-or-else politics.

Putting the Republican position into the tree analogy that I’ve got going: It’s not my tree, but I can see the tree, so I know what’s best for the tree – even if I know nothing about trees.

Boehener no way

Gay marriage is the same. It’s not for me, but it’s no skin off my nose if gay couples marry. There’s not a wedding quota.

Gay marriage became legal in Illinois on June 1, 2014. I didn’t wake up June 2nd feel differently about my own marriage. A thousand people could have gotten married on June 1st and I wouldn’t have noticed (since no one invited me to the ceremony – Peter & Jeff – I’m talking to you).

Democracy is about agreeing to disagree – fighting for others’ rights to make a different decision than I’d make.


So, I’m a little sad that I have to say goodbye to the beautiful tree in my neighbor’s back garden, but I won’t make a fuss. One day, I might need to cut down one of my own trees.

I’m Jae and no trees were harmed in the making of this message.


2 thoughts on “Tree of Liberty

  1. We waste too much time demonizing the opposition and extolling our own virtues. It would be better to extol our opponent’s virtues and focus on our own flaws.

    For the Democrats, the greatest flaw is their broken blue model. Puerto Rico is bankrupt, so is Detroit. Chicago is not technically bankrupt but there is no way to pull out of it’s death spiral. The list of cities and blue institutions facing financial and demographic ruin is very, very, very long.

    The greatest flaw in the blue model itself, is it’s political success. It no longer works fiscally or socially but it continues to work politically….which makes it impossible to reform.

    Partisan chest-thumping only distracts us from facing these problems. While the NY Times, LA Times, Huffington Post and PBS howled about arcane abortion laws in Texas….. nobody seemed to notice that major American cities were in a financial death spiral because of rampant political corruption.


  2. Ah a fiscal argument to counter a social one. There’s more to life than money.

    Speaking of cash – I’m ok with my government spending all it’s money – government isn’t supposed to be a for-profit organization.

    Principles cost money – we spend the money in the form of taxes – well most of us do – and I want politicians to be willing to give up money in the form of donors/funding for their principles. I agree that there are few of these in Washington right now.

    As a society, we’re not ok with children working 12 hour days, poor dying in the street for want of food or medical attention, or large corporations ruining the environment for short-term personal gains. We can personally help a few, but we expect our government to address these social issues on a large scale. We don’t live in Victorian England where it seems like it was ok to step over the corpse of an 8 year old orphan.

    America – Looking down from the ivory tower of a rich and affluent society.



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