A long time ago, in a place far, far away, my beliefs on matters of policy and greater questions of what America should be as a nation were, to say the least, amorphous. I really didn't align with any political party. At least, not until June of 2001 or so, when I discovered the libertarian philosophy and was hooked. In the time since then, I have seen cause to retreat from what the Libertarian Party says on several issues.
This sea change can be attributed in large part to two books I've read recently. One, Ann Coulter's "Treason," is a masterfully written tome that entertains from start to finish - or turns your stomach, if you don't agree with the author's stances (which was not the case for me). Coulter incisively demonstrates why the Democrats have been wrong on foreign policy and national security since - well, since before the onset of the Cold War. She shows that Joe McCarthy was right all along, despite being vilified by a press viscerally opposed to his efforts. She also recounts how Ronald Reagan discarded predecessors' policies such as 'containment' and 'détente' and, on the Cold War, used the same strategy Happy Gilmore did to win the Tour Championship - "I'll just win it now." One passage, on the justification for war with Iraq, is worth quoting at length:
On the basis of how liberals reacted to Mutually Assured Destruction with the Soviet Union, Americans should have been terrified that they were recommending it again with Iraq. MAD was bad enough with the Soviet Union but there was a certain illiterate logic to it. Most obviously, the Soviet Union already had nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein didn't. Why did liberals want to let him get there?1
This made a lot of sense to me, and caused me to reverse course from what I originally said about the war at its onset seven months ago. Given that no nation with nuclear weapons capability has ever had its homeland invaded, the need to keep a leader like Saddam from getting his hands on such weapons appears quite pressing. Throw in the apparent impasse in talks with North Korea, which already has some nuclear capability, and the decision to topple Hussein looks even better.
My switch on Iraq has also resulted from meeting people who have been on the front lines of America's defense. They are not warmongers, baby-killers, or any of the other wonderful things left-wingers like to say. Most of the people I've met are peace loving Americans, just like myself. In particular, those who have served on fleet ballistic missile submarines are the first to remind us that if they fire their missiles, it's the end of the world. I would much rather have peace on the terms of the United States than some other nation.
I've also been reading Pat Buchanan's "The Death of the West." Buchanan's central premise is that the gradual erosion of Christian influence on American culture, combined with, among other things, the current trends in immigration and birth rates, directly threaten the continued existence of the First World nations. The response to this is twofold. First, is Buchanan right? And if so, is the phenomenon of which he speaks a Very Bad Thing, as he argues? On the first question, Buchanan is right on the mark. Christian influence has most definitely declined in America over the last four decades. As for the second part, it's a tough call for me to make. The removal of God from the public square has led to a relaxation of moral standards. I don't have a problem with this per se, because I don't feel a strong religious influence is a necessary condition for strong values to guide a person. The most important factor in this is upbringing, for it is the parents who have the most influence over what a person ultimately becomes as an adult. I personally don't have a strong belief in God, but I still try to live my life my some kind of code (though explicitly defining said code would be difficult for me to do).
As far as the question of immigration goes, I agree with Buchanan that immigration must be controlled much more effectively. Illegal immigration must be curtailed, and those illegal aliens currently in the United States need to be deported. As for those who wish to enter, only those who truly wish to assimilate should be admitted past our borders, with an absolute time limit on their stay as aliens (perhaps five to seven years), and an ultimatum attached to this limit - become a citizen or get out. America should be for Americans. To those who wish to become fully American, we should say welcome - to those who seek to leech, find somewhere else.
1 Treason, p. 213.