America in 2015 is a very confusing place. I see plenty of hopeful signs for your future because your people are showing signs of waking up. However the sad fact is there is more division in America today than any other time in American history. I believe if America is to prosper again, each American is going to have to ask themselves some very tough questions. I want to ask you one right now – Is it time to stop self-identifying and belonging to a political ideology?
There is one simple fact no one can ignore – political parties on BOTH sides of the aisle NEED some sort of division. After all if there is no division, how can you distinguish one candidate from another and if they were similar, why bother voting? The only question that needs to be asked is whether the differences being discussed are real or phony. Let me explain the differences.
There are real substantive differences between the so-called “left” and “right” in America on issues like abortion, taxation, gun control, size of government etc. The success of the political left lately has been creating division on phony issues. They identify a problem in society (size and impact of the problem is irrelevant) and they spin it and make it their issue and use to it divide America into different boxes. However at times when there are no issues to be capitalized on, the left will simply create them. Some recent examples are the battle over the Confederate Flag, banning the Dukes of Hazards show and the recent issue over saying ALL lives matter.
I ask you to stop for a moment and think of all the ways we are divided up and put into boxes. Let me share a brief list:
- Class – rich, poor and middle class
- Race – black, white, Asian (however this is in question as witnessed by Rachel Dolezal)
- Gender – War on Women, transgenderism or the other fifty one genders
- Age – Baby boomers v Millennials
- Religion – War on Christians, Christians deciding who a real Christian is
- Sexuality – Gay v Straight v Transgendered
- Location – Living in a city or the Mid-west or Texas
- Education Level – Looking down on folks who never went to college
These are just some of the ways society is broken up and pitted against each other. When was the last time a politician said we are all the same and we are all Americans? Has America forgotten the dream of MLK about judging a person by the content of their character? While these are huge when I look at America today one of the biggest divisions I see is politics, and I have to ask if the American people have helped this division? Look at all the political ideologies today:
Progressive, Liberal, Democrat, Moderate, Independent, Republican, RINO, Conservative, Reagan Conservative, Libertarian, Tea Partier and the newest of the bunch – Conservatarian.
It is very easy to self-identify with an ideology and I was very guilty over of it over the last decade as I was a self-described Regan Conservative. However I have come to realize the serious damage it causes. Firstly we must look at the recent history of all of these ideologies and understand one thing. The principles behind them always change. Let me give you some examples to think about:
- Is the Republican Party today the same as the party under Reagan or the party created at the time of Lincoln?
- Is the Democratic Party today the same as it was under Bill Clinton as it was under JFK?
- If you were a moderate / centrist today would you have the same believes as you would have had under George W Bush or under Jimmy Carter?
I think we can all agree we have seen a substantial change under both these parties in recent decades. Policies can and will always change but principles should remain the same forever. However it goes a lot further than that especially for folks who consider themselves Conservative. Look at the way the media portrays people like John McCain and John Boehner as Conservatives – do they share even 1% of your believes?
Secondly and this is a problem I came across daily in Ireland. When I said to someone what my ideology was (e.g. Reagan Conservative / Republican), they had an opinion of me based on what they believed a Republican was and it did not matter if those opinions where share by me or not. It was guilt by association. The best example of this I can give today is many people believe the GOP are for big business. These are not only policies I stand against but despise. I support the Free Market, yet if I never get to explain this to you, you might never know my true feelings on an issue.
Thirdly who gets to decide the official party / ideology line on a subject. I have many friends who are libertarians and they are split on the issue of abortion – some are pro-choice and some are the most passionate pro-life people I have met. Who decides on the “purity” of the ideology? And what happens to my friends who don’t agree with the decision? Are they fake libertarians? We can all admit man is deeply flawed and most of us have a big problem admitting when we are wrong. When we self-identify with an ideology, party or candidate, most of us feel the need to defend that, whether it is right or wrong. To make matters worse we now live in a society that leads to attacks when you are not loyal. One of the hardest things to do is to stand against your party or person you agree with – If you need proof, look no further than John McCain.
Lastly when you are dragged into a party or ideology, most of us tend to focus solely on victory. Everything becomes like a game where there is a winner and a loser, and we tend to view things thru the lens of the ideology and not from the point of view of the American people.
So what is the path forward? Well it will be different for all of us and I can only speak for myself but I am done with putting myself into boxes for the sake of political points. I currently only belong to one box and that one will never change – I am a Christian. God willing one day I will belong to one additional box and that is when I achieve my life-long dream and become an American citizen. For every other issue I will focus solely on principle and I will unite with people of ANY ideology if we agree on the principles within an issue. I am reminded of the words of Ronald Reagan when he said, In America, there really is no left or right, but there is an up or a down. The choice facing America today is not a battle of political ideologies it is simply – Liberty versus Tyranny.