We are a very polarized nation right now. Not just because there are differences between us but because many of those differences have been reduced to slogans, signs, and shouting. There is a wide chasm between those on the right and those on the left, with many feeling they have been dropped into the abyss between. And while some would attempt to build a bridge others (on each side) are trying to burn it down. Did we forget we are all Americans, members of one nation?
Part of the reason is that we see political differences as having moral components - a right and wrong answer, and no room for compromise or accommodation. We have let our emotions run wild and put our minds on hold. Not that passion is not important. But without a rational/reasonable mind to establish boundaries our political discourse runs amok.
It is time for all of us to go back to basics and figure out what we believe politically, why we believe it, and realize that in our pluralistic democracy it is okay if we disagree, as long as we do it peacefully. I will attempt, in this three part blog series, to outline what I see as the two major current lines of thought on politics, and the reasons why. This is not to say that these are the only ways, since I believe that there is a continuum of thought that stretches from one side to the other. But it is meant as a starting point for discussion. I will also let you know where I stand and why.
I believe that most people see government in one of two ways,conservative or liberal/progressive, generally. I believe this is based at least in part on their worldview - how they categorize people. This is formed partly from personal and family experience and partly from their spiritual views, whether individualistic or organized-religion based. Their worldview influences how they view the role of govt,interpretation of the Constitution,the functions and limits of govt,and their involvement in it.
I believe there are several questions that we need to ask ourselves to examine the foundations of our own political philosophy. Ask yourselves these questions and then in the next two parts I will discuss how and why I see the two sides answering these.
1. Worldview...how do you view the world,specifically how do you divide up or categorize the people in it? Is it good vs bad? Have's vs have-not's? Fortunate vs unfortunate? Or something else?
2. What is your concept of God/higher power? For those who believe in God,we see an ultimate authority and the way we view God influences how we view our relationship to any other authority. Legalism or grace, justice or forgiveness, what is the attribute that predominates in your mind?
3. Role of government -what is it , a separate entity, or part of or an extension of us(we the people)?
4. How do you interpret the constitution..is it fixed in time, or a living document that flexes to handle the changing times?
5. what areas do you see the government having a proper role in , what not, and why?
6. what role do you see for the different branches of government , especially the courts?
7. what is the relationship between the government and the people...is it a contract or a compact?
8. and, finally, just what do you think is meant by "we the people"?
Most of what we see in political debate today would have us believe that there is a fixed wall between left and right and no way to bridge it. I believe, however, that most people are somewhere in the middle and don't know what they believe or why. There is much passion without thought, which some use to their own ends. There is hope for dialogue and solutions if we first understand where we are coming from and try to work things out instead of always fighting inflexibly.
To quote a recent bumper sticker "Wag more, bark less"....it's not just for dogs:)