It took me a long time to figure out what my political views were. It happened through dialogue with friends. We all shared the same kinds of views:
* Socially, "live and let live"
* Process-wise, anti-bureaucracy
...and then it dawned on me that I am a Libertarian.
I had a lot of trouble admitting this to myself. After all:
* The stereotype of a government worker is that you are all in favor of bloated, big government because it personally benefits you.
* The other problem is that there are some people who identify with libertarian views who seem quite nutty.
* Finally it seems like some kind of indictment of government to join a political party that seeks to shrink it.
But after a lot of thought I've realized that there is a kind of logic to my thinking.
* I've always been kind of a reformer in whatever social system I'm in. That's just my nature.
* I'm pretty passionate about the missions of the agencies where I've served - protecting vulnerable people from credit sharks - protecting the border - helping end extreme poverty around the world. I want the money to go to the mission and nowhere else unnecessarily.
* As a taxpayer and a steward of the taxpayer's money I feel a responsibility not to waste it. Those dollars are real!
* As a daughter I want my parents up in New York to be proud of me and not to see me as so many people view government workers stereotypically. Like we are vampires who somehow live off the dole.
* In a bigger way, like so many of us I am also descended from immigrants and there is no country like America, where we have so much freedom. It is a big honor to be chosen to serve.
It also seems to me that we are moving towards a system where strict allegiance to one political party or another is obsolete. What we want is to pick and choose the things we agree with, and discard those we don't.
For example, I agree with my Democratic friends on a lot of things - like righting inequality and helping the disempowered in particular. I also believe we are one world, and that what happens in one part of it is integrally connected with the others.
And my Republican friends make a lot of sense to me as well - the concept of letting business flourish, minimizing unnecessary regulation, keeping taxes low, protecting the Second Amendment.
So what is the key takeaway here? Well for one thing, breaking the myth that government workers are all cut from a single cloth. And for another, breaking the myth that we all have to be in favor of big government in order to serve the government well.
* Of course, as always all opinions are my own.