What is Your Political Philosophy?
Some Election Day ponderings for you. I am purposely staying away from any predictions or analysis of the actual elections happening today, and instead want to focus on a bigger picture. So, please indulge me in a bit of active thinking.
I also feel the urgent need to get something (anything!) posted. Frankly, I don’t want my blog space to be ‘eminent domained’ by the Internet Authorities because they think it is abandoned. I need to make sure I bring in the newspaper and leave a light on every now and then to deter squatters and robbers.
So, let me Swiffer up enough dust off of my virtual desk in order to write a post. A possibly pointless post, but a post nonetheless.
You see, it is not just my blog that I have neglected. I also have turned a cold shoulder towards the Political world. I’ve grown weary of the “Everything is Political” mentality that has become the new normal.
Apparently, even a political junkie like me has their limits. I even tried, for a spell, to fancy myself more of a political philosophy buff than a common wonk. So, I namedropped Burke and Kirk and Nisbet like there was no tomorrow.
But, the emperor was pretty much nude.
I have a slightly above average intellect (at best), so try as I may to hang with the philosophical big dogs, it was a venture doomed to eventual failure. But, I can’t just go back to “politics as usual”. I have grown quite disillusioned with the whole thing.
…I must admit that a thoughtful examination of political beliefs is a topic that still piques my interest. That fact – combined with a nature which is predisposed to distill – compels me to write a (hopefully) short post about understanding one’s political philosophy.
My desire is to help the reader (Hi Mom!) look beyond partisanship to get to the heart of what they believe. This should be useful in not only understanding one’s own political thoughts, but also in helping to understand opposing thoughts (and, ideally, helping folks to not be so darn hateful of each other for no good reason).
I could disclaim and caveat the Hades out of the following few paragraphs… but, instead, let me simply say that while the details are far more complicated, what I will state is probably as close to Truth (capital ‘T’) about these matters as one can come. And lastly (before we begin) in order to best participate in this thinking exercise, you must first clear your mind of all the existing political labels… so forget liberal versus conservative, forget the old definitions of left and right, as well. And definitely don’t think in terms of Republican or Democrat (or Libertarian). What we are talking about here cuts across all party lines.
At their heart, political disagreements can be boiled down to a difference of problem-solving methods.
There are many differences of agreement even among the same side as to how best to solve problems (and additionally, the definition of what is a Problem is not completely universal)… but let’s go big and look at what I would consider to be the Main Difference. The divide from which all other current American political beliefs spring from:
1) Some folks believe that Government (usually writ large) is the best mechanism through which societal problems can be solved/fixed/improved
2) Other folks believe that people themselves can create best solutions/fixes/improvements for societal problems
If you agree more with #1, I would term you a Leftward thinker, while Rightward thinkers go more for the second option.
Let’s take it back even further before we move on a bit… let’s assume that in order for “societal problems” to be solved/fixed/improved, it requires some kind of behavioral change.
A Leftward thinker believes that this behavioral change must be compelled. The end result (the change) is of primary importance. Therefore, they look to Government as the “best compeller”. Change is best effected from the Outside. They also tend more towards feeling that all desired change in urgent. This or that must happen now, so we need Government to make it happen.
On the other hand, a Rightward thinker believes that a true behavioral change must come from the heart of the individual. Change is best effected from the Inside. Rightward thinkers are also more inclined to be able to delay gratification. If a change should happen, then it should happen fully and in the right ways… no matter how long it takes.
These basic preference differences regarding problem solving clearly affect and even shape how one views governance.
Leftward thinkers prefer a top-down approach. The bigger the governing entity is, the more power it should have over people’s everyday lives. Rightward thinkers, obviously, believe the opposite: that governing “power” should reside mostly with an individual.
As such, Rightward thinkers have a general disdain for disdain for Government that increases in intensity at each subsequent larger level. This is because Rightward thinkers see Government as a hindrance to true problem solving. The best solutions come from an individual, family, or small community. Government is at best, a necessary nuisance meant for dealing with things that it wouldn’t make sense for an individual, family, or small community to (things like International Relations – both in the context of peace and war, regulating currency, etc).
Leftward thinkers often become perturbed at individuals, families, or small communities who stand in the way of Government action. There is a respect bordering on reverence which Leftward thinkers have for the institutions of Government. Many times, this evolves into a view in which Government is a benefactor for society.
Think, for a moment, about whether your own political thinking trends more Leftward or more Rightward. Now, think of someone you know who tends in the opposite direction. This should be someone you have historically considered to be a foe of sorts… someone you disagree with so vehemently that it may have even created dislike. What I would urge you to do is to work to understand where that person is coming from.
In all your political discussions, try to get past the specific details and work towards getting to the root. See if you can agree on what the basic problem is… and then offer a solution. Then, listen patiently and intently and allow your former foe to offer their own solution. Agree or disagree… but do so with respect.
Don’t allow the grievance mongers and outrage pimps to needlessly divide us. Remember that we are all loved by our Creator. All of us.
Now, if you must know my opinion as to which is the best approach, all I can say is: