Growing up, I never really paid attention to the political positions of my family. I think this was due in part to the fact that my family was never really political, or at least were never vocal about it. So for me, I can’t really point to anything specific about where I get my political roots. Although, I think I could point to what I would consider my “political birth”.
It was shortly before the start of the 2008 Presidential election and some of the older people I worked with were quite involved in both politics and the financial markets. They would often discuss these topics and sometimes asked what I thought. My 27 year old self, who was naive and poorly informed, espoused quite Liberal views. This is not a denigration of Liberal views, just my poorly informed position of Liberal views. When I began to take some of these views to social media, I had a few friends who had very opposite viewpoints from myself, thankfully. They took me to task on a few occasions and it forced me to re-evaluate my own views and to question what I thought, why I thought it and why I should think I was correct in having those views. Having to challenge my own positions was hard, and very uncomfortable, but it lead me down a path of understanding. It made me think substantively about what my own views were. It also caused me to dive deeper into understanding both sides of the political spectrum and creating my own philosophical and political views derived from that understanding. What I found was that each ideology carries with it flaws.
What were those flaws? Well, for the sake of brevity, I will not list them all here but to suffice it to say I found that “just raising taxes” was not a simple answer. Nor was “uninhibited markets are the key”. What I found, and for that matter am still finding out, is that there really is no easy answer to our own political positions. They are all fraught with peril and downsides and if you hear someone say otherwise, run. That is a person who has failed to challenge their own thoughts before challenging yours. This is the political ideology I currently find myself most comfortable with, the idea that there is no “right” way of doing things.
I’ve found that in reality all political ideologies have both pros and cons. That these belief systems are far more subjective than they are objective. We can look at the Liberal ideology of a bigger government which takes care of many aspects of peoples lives, and in theory it can work.You can also look at the Conservative ideology and see how smaller, less intrusive government and a reliance on the free market can work in theory as well. The problem here is that when reality is applied, the human factor takes over. We humans are a messy bunch full of flaws and issues. We will never have perfect system because we are inherently flawed creatures. All ideologies will have flaws. What we need to do is keep that in mind when transforming ideas into legislation.
I believe that the biggest thing that everyone needs to keep in mind is that, despite our sincere convictions, some of our ideas and beliefs may not work and may even be detrimental to the systems with which we live in. One of the hardest things that we can do, as people, is to admit we’re wrong. We have been groomed to think that being wrong is somehow a show of lower intelligence, but error has been shown to be the best teacher.
So, do I think my political viewpoints are more valid than others? No. I do think, however, that we all deserve a chance to be heard and to allow those views to be debated, and then voted on by our duly elected government. Some will win and some will lose, this part and parcel of living in a society. I can’t have everything I want, and more importantly, I want people to tell me if what I what may be horribly wrong for society. What’s the flaw with this idea? It depends on a well educated and critically thinking populace. Something Thomas Jefferson saw as a keystone to effective and functional government.
“experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts…”