My thoughts on Politics, March 2014 edition

I read a tweet the other day that really bothered me. It actually made me pretty angry and upset and I have been stewing over it ever since. It deals with that great two-edged sword of Politics, which is both the bane of my existence and yet a topic I thoroughly enjoy enjoy discussing and debating. I try to be open and I follow both conservative and liberal individuals on Twitter, both Republicans and Democrats, and anyone else who tweets interesting things about politics. I will not unfollow or choose not to follow a person simply because their ideology does not match mine completely, but sometimes it is hard and infuriating to read some things that people post.

The tweet that really set me off this time was:

There is no conservative bias. How can you be bias when your beliefs are in harmony with the founders? Liberal bias is a destructive malady.

For whatever reason, this tweet and its asinine assumptions extremely bothered me. I immediately started composing mock-tweets in response to this statement:

“There’s no conservative stupidity. How can you be stupid when you think the same things as people over 200 years ago? Liberal thinking is a destructive malady. ”

“I’m not racist.  How can you be racist when your beliefs are in line with all of these old, dead, white guys?  Liberal thinking is a destructive malady”

“I’m not wrong. You are. ”

In essence, his ‘argument’ is that he is right and liberals are wrong, just because they are liberals, which is completely ridiculous. And it is this type of thinking that has increased so much in recent years and is destroying not only politics in this country but civility and normal human interaction. We used to be able to discuss and debate and argue issues and make points and concede that our opponents had points to make. Lately, though, it seems like everybody, liberals and conservatives alike, are stuck with political blinders on, only seeing an extremely narrow slice of the political spectrum and anything that falls outside of that is wrong, evil, and un-American. We have lost our ability to come together and compromise, our ability to recognize that even if we do not agree on every point, we can still agree on some points.

And this tweet makes the huge error of misusing the word bias. He doesn’t even know what the words he is using mean. “There is no conservative bias, but liberal bias is a destructive malady” Do you not see the irony in that statement? Or if it’s not exactly irony, it’s at least contradictory.

Bias means, “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. ” And to say there is no conservative bias, only a liberal bias, which is a destructive malady, is itself evidence of conservative bias. This is almost a perfect example of conservative bias. Or, to use the Bible, as many conservatives love to in order to prove one point or another, this is a great example of seeing a mote in your brother’s eye but not the beam in your own.

I don’t mean to sound too harsh, or to criticize too much, but this, as I’ve said, is exactly what I see wrong with politics in America today. A predilection to assert that all problems are caused by the other guys, and to refuse to see any of the same problems with one’s own views. Liberals are not perfect, they do not have all of the answers to every problem facing America. Conservatives do not either. Politics should not be about beating the other guy so that you or your party can get into office, it should be about doing the right things for the people whom you represent, or hope to represent.

And what does he mean when he says his ideas are in harmony with the founders?  Which founders is he referring to?  Because, if you read the documents written at the time of the Revolution, the founders were not in harmony with the founders.  There was much debate and discussion and arguing back and forth.  Conservatives seem to have this idea that there was a group of men called “The Founders” who were completely united in all aspects of conservative thought, who got along perfectly and designed a veritable Utopia, and they would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those pesky liberals!  In truth the founders were no more united than the Republican Party is today.  You cannot stand up and say “Republicans believe ______” or “Republicans think _____” .  Sure, some may and some do, maybe even most may and do, but we are talking about people and you cannot get a group of people larger than one to think and believe exactly the same things all the time.  That’s called a cult.

That is what makes America great, that is what makes people great, our ability to think for ourselves and come to our own conclusions and develop our own beliefs.  And it is precisely this diversity of thought that is needed to come up with the next great idea to further business and education and industry and even politics in this country.  It is nice to look back at great men and women who have gone before, to learn from them, to admire what they thought and believed, but ultimately what they believed is irrelevant in a modern world.  There is a constant growth of information and knowledge and we need to make decisions based on the most recent information available.  What I thought and believed a year ago is different from what I think and believe today, because I have learned and experienced new things.  This is also why I don’t get the huge political insult of calling some a “flip-flopper” or a “waffler” just because they changed their position.  I would hope that all politicians would feel that it is right to change your position on an issue when you have encountered new information.  We usually call that learning, and it is generally considered a positive thing.

We are once again looking at an election year. Here in Ohio the primary election is only two months away, with the general election in the fall. All members of the House of Representatives are up for election, and in Ohio we have a Governor’s race as well, but then you also need to pay attention to the local elections that do not get much, if any, airtime on the news. Those local elections affect you more closely than your Representative, or even Governor. Those are the people who make decisions about your neighborhood and your city, decisions that can affect you every day. But, unfortunately, they get largely forgotten, or ignored in favor of the more ‘interesting’ national elections.

As we consider again whom we want to elect to various political offices, please let us be mindful of biases. At least admit that we, too, have biases in our views, and that others do as well, but that does not make them wrong or evil nor our enemies. I would like to believe that all politicians who run have the same goal — to represent their constituents well and to make the good decisions that will benefit America. Naturally, there are fundamental differences between candidates as to what they believe best represents their constituents and what the right decisions are to benefit America, but hopefully, we are all trying to work toward the same end, and in that case, we can work together.

Politics is a tricky subject to debate, but we need to at least recognize that there needs to be a debate. We need to share our ideas and listen to the ideas of others. We cannot simply label the other guys and immediately reject everything they have to say. Conservatives are not evil. Liberals are not evil. Both sides are biased, everyone is biased. Everyone has their own beliefs about what is right and best which naturally biases everything they do, but as long as we are all trying to do what is best for the country, we can hopefully find common ground and compromise to accomplish something.

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