We need to stop using labels to either define ourselves or to categorize others. Labels like left, right, progressive and conservative are mindless substitutes for actual thought and productive discussion. Cliches like “Lock her up.”, “Trump the dictator.” “Baby killer.” and “You are against women’s rights.” are also not arguments as much as empty-headed claims that anyone who disagrees is an idiot or worse. Kinda makes me yearn for the return of the 20-second sound bite. By comparison, that was real discourse.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute blog/podcast.
I believe that America is a unique and exceptional place, and that you have an equally unique and exceptional role to play in it. Today’s podcast, and there are two a week, Tuesday and Friday each and every week, goes into more depth about how to fill that role. My last podcast had specific ideas about self-talk. Today it is about no labels and common goals.
A Revolution 2.0™ subscriber, G. O. in Denver, was agreeing with this no label position by observing that Revolution 2.0 espouses looking at policies rather than politics. Exactly. We have a bingo. Don’t ask me what label I am. That will lead to you assuming what I believe on a variety of issues–likely to be wrong, easily having mis-guessed my thinking based on a label. Labels like: Conservative. Liberal. Republican. Libertarian. Moderate. Democrat. Progressive. Independent. Fiscal conservative. Social liberal. Those are the benign descriptors that people apply to themselves.
Now let’s look at the labels that are often applied to others: “Libtard”, “Trumpist”, and, “You’re a Fascist,” “No, you’re a fascist.” These labels cannot possibly identify, educate and inform; they are simply insults. And we often hurl these “labels” at each other.
We have weaponized labels.
Think and speak about issues, not labels.
I started my political life thinking that I was a Democrat. After all, they are the ones who want to help people. Right? Then I thought I was a Republican. They are the responsible ones. Yes? I really thought that I knew who I was politically when I heard Jimmy Carter say that he was a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Ah. Perfect.
For many years, I was happy with describing myself the way then candidate and later President Carter described himself. But as the political landscape has become dysfunctionally more polarized, the original definitions of Mr. Carter’s terms have become obsolete. “Fiscal conservative” no longer means simply handling taxpayer money efficiently and having tax and regulatory policies that support robust, responsible economic growth. For many, it is coming to mean that you are at least somewhat suspicious of the Federal Reserve, support a return to the gold standard, and want a retreat to the original Federal Income Tax rate of 2%. Similarly, “social liberal” used to mean, at least to me, live and let live when it came to lifestyles. Now, it seems to be morphing into meaning “anything goes.” And not only simple tolerance for the “anything” that’s going; we have growing numbers of groups demanding elaborate accomodations for, well, just about anyone who declares themselves to be different. So now what do I do? How do I describe myself politically? Can I find a home? Let’s create a new home by dropping labels and talking about issues and common goals.
I describe myself as a man seeking common goals. (How’s that for a party name?) Don’t most of us share the same common, bedrock goals? I don’t mean desires that many share like wanting this party or this candidate to win (or the other party or person to lose), I mean the core, meaningful, underlying goals that most of us share. Find the common ground (yes, it exists), add statistically-significant facts, facts that clearly apply to the issue, then apply non agenda-based reasoning to those facts to get to the common goals. It works. And if the discussion falls off track, go back to the common goals–the touchstone–to get back on track.
Pause to repeat an offer: I have $100, which I will deliver in cash in public if there is one subject, no matter how controversial, where it is not clear that people of goodwill can come up with a common goal. Or at least the key questions which, when answered, will lead to a very productive discussion.
Okay, Will, how do we get to those common goals? 1. Stop using labels, and stick to issues only. 2. Set aside assumed solutions, and dig–by asking open-ended questions and listening. Listen. You already know what you have to say. 3. Step back and look at the issue from 30k feet. The overall perspective is important, and far less likely than specific, curb-side issues to derail the conversation before you even get started. 4. Listen more. 5. Gently, when you have understood where the other person is, lead with questions, love and logic, toward where you are. And always remember they may have some teaching and leading to do themselves.
This works every time. And remember the $100 challenge.
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.