“Beat L-A!” “I love Tom Brady!” “My two favorite teams are the Broncos and whoever is playing the Raiders.” That is acceptable–even healthy–partisanship.
I am a Broncos fan because of an accident of history. My step-father bought 2 tickets in 1960, the first year they existed, and I have been a fan ever since. A good friend of mine in the San Francisco Bay area is a Raiders fan because his father was a 49ers fan. An opposite motivation, but still a very acceptable one.
Most of us who are loyal to favorite teams came by that loyalty in some unstudied way. There was no deep thought involved. No evidence gathering. No long-term study of character and methods of play. We just grabbed onto something and jumped in. And stayed jumped in. We shout at the other team at the games, yell at the TV, tease our friends who root for the “enemy”, and generally carry on. All good stuff.
Increasingly our choice of political parties is just as casual. And our loyalties and actions, based on that casual, unchallenged choice, are just as deep, unquestioned and unchanging.
That’s the subject of today’s 10-minute podcast.
What typically influences our choices when it comes to teams and parties? Accidents, mostly. Our family of origin. Where we grow up. Where we wind up working. Where we choose to live. Geography is a big one. Take a look at the map of the electoral results of the 2016 Election.
Is it an accident that states like California and New York are predominantly progressive, and states like Texas and Oklahoma are not? Take a careful look at this electoral map; with four exceptions, virtually all of the states in the contiguous 48 that voted one way or the other are in connected blocks. Colorado and New Mexico share a border, and the remaining two, Minnesota and Illinois, are very nearly connected. Q. Did everyone of a like mind move to the same places, or is something else going on? A. Something else. In the absence of differing opinions from a variety of sources, people will rely on the opinions of family and friends, co-workers and their favorite news sources and social media. Outside of family, all the sources will be selected more to have one’s preconceived notions and thinking supported rather than challenged. It seems so much easier that way. Lazy might be a better word. Not surprisingly, all the selected sources will pretty much share the same opinions. Similar opinions from apparently different sources reinforce each other and can easily be seen as a valid consensus. And with some notable exceptions families, neighbors and co-workers in the same geography tend to lean one way or the other on significant issues, adding to the sameness. Creating not a new idea generator, but an echo chamber. And echo chambers, by definition, can do nothing but reinforce thought–echoes can only repeat what has been already said.
And within parties, why does everyone have to think the same way about every issue–no matter how controversial? Strict party line votes occur all the time in federal, state and local governments. Here’s an obvious example on a huge issue: All Senate Democrats voted for Obamacare; no Senate Republicans did. Is that because not a single Democratic Senator wanted to vote against it? Could it be true that every single Republican thought Obamacare was unacceptable? I posit that it is impossible for every Democrat, voter or legislator, to agree with every other Democrat on every issue. I claim the same thing for Republicans. But that is how our elected representatives vote. On a lot of issues, both sides of the aisle vote in blocks, all while they must have differing views on at least some of the issues being brought up for discussion and voting.
Why is that? Easy answer. The head coach of the political team, perhaps the Speaker of the House or the Senate Majority Leader, called the play, and everyone must follow. In a military or business setting, there may be initial disagreement about what to do next, but when the decision has been made, everyone has to row in the same direction. In sports, business or the military, you need to be a fully committed team member on every issue and every play or leave the team. We have now created the same culture in our political parties. From time-to-frequent time, our politicians must put aside their consciences and the needs of the people they represent, and vote with their party in order to get the support needed to be reelected. And reelection is the real goal–not serving either their conscience or their constituents.
What do we do about this as voters and concerned citizens? We must start with thinking carefully and separately about each important issue ourselves. Reach out to people and sources that you know will disagree with you. Challenge yourself and keep challenging. Abortion. Borders. Tariffs. Monetary and Fiscal policy. Foreign Policy. Welfare. Guns. First Amendment. Electoral College. Don’t take the easy way out by labeling yourself, then allowing that label to steer you toward your positions on the various issues. Jimmy Carter was the first politician I remember saying that he was a fiscal conservative, and a social liberal. I did not know that you could mix those up. And why can’t someone be a fiscal conservative and pro gay marriage? Or believe that abortion is murder, but be for eliminating the electoral college?
Today’s Key Point: The political parties require that the politicians in those parties vote as a block if they want to be reelected. Instead of jumping into “vote as a block thinking”, we must challenge our own thinking. Then we will have earned the right to demand that our elected representatives vote their consciences and serve us–not their senior political bosses. They work for us; we are the real bosses. But we need to get our acts together first. If we want better candidates and better office holders, we need to be better voters.
Segueing from the specifics of today’s topic to overall principles, the core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:
And do it all in love; without love, these are empty gestures, destined to go nowhere and mean nothing.
If we apply those two core principles, personal responsibility and brother’s keepers, simultaneously, never only one or the other, we will always be on the right path. Depending upon what we face, one principle or the other may appropriately be given more emphasis, but they are always acted upon together.
The Founders, Revolution 1.0, were declared traitors by the British Crown, and their lives were forfeit if caught. We risk very little by stepping up and participating in Revolution 2.0™. In fact, we risk our futures if we don’t. I am inviting you, recruiting you, to join Revolution 2.0™ today. Join with me in using what we know how to do–what we know we must do–to everyone’s advantage. Let’s practice thinking well of others as we seek common goals, research the facts that apply to those goals, and use non agenda-based reasoning to achieve those goals together. Practice personal responsibility and be your brother’s keeper.
Let’s continue to build on the revolutionary vision that we inherited. Read the blog, listen to the podcast, subscribe, recruit, act. Here’s what I mean by “acting.”
Revolution 1.0 in 1776 was built by people talking to other people, agreeing and disagreeing, but always finding ways to stay united and go forward. Revolution 2.0 will be built the same way.
Join me. Join the others. Think about what we are talking about and share these thoughts and principles with others. Subscribe, encourage others to subscribe. Act. Let’s grow this together.
And visit the store. Fun stuff, including hats, mugs and t-shirts. Recommend other items that you’d like to see.
Links and References
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the blog with comments or questions about this podcast or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And you can subscribe to the podcast on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google, or Stitcher.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. It is not enough to be a well informed voter. We need to act. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Know your stuff, then act on it. Knowing your stuff without acting is empty; acting without knowing is dangerous.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.