Political Labels

I have always felt like a square peg in a round hole on the political spectrum.  I have engaged in a lifelong search for the right fit where I voted mostly for one of the major parties but have identified more deeply ideologically with a third party.  All the while, I have voted freely for any candidate, proposal etc. that I believed would make the world a little better.  That meant that the labels fit to some degree, but awkwardly.

In watching the divisiveness in recent years, it became all the more awkward.  I couldn’t identify with the hatred that I would hear by / about either side, nor the fear being spread / talked about.  Watching a news cycle could make you think that both the right and the left were trying to destroy America and the ideals that it stands for.  Yet, I could not see that either side wanted that.  It seemed that both sides wanted the same great things, and simply disagreed about how to generate the results.

Corruption, lying etc. were present on both sides.  That was clear.  Power can do horrible things to humans.  Yet somehow, TV hosts, columnists, radio hosts etc. were successfully getting people to parrot how their side was pure as the driven snow, but the other side was a) unfairly attacking them and b) corrupt in every way.  As usual, the truth seemed somewhere in between to me.

Then, I went back to basics.  What were the ideology and beliefs behind my previous choices of party / label?  As I got back in touch with those ideas, I realized that I wasn’t interested in forcing myself back into those boxes.  

The labels had been creating atrophy in my thinking.  In choosing sides, I was unwittingly adopting the policies and ideas associated with the personalities and platforms, instead of advocating and voting for my deepest held ideas and values.

Motivated reasoning is when a person uses emotional affinity to justify their desired view.  It is what causes the fans of the opposing team to see the referee’s call in the exact opposite manner from our fellow fans.  

Party affiliation (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green etc.), or ideological labels (Conservative, Liberal, Moderate, Progressive, Libertarian etc.), enable motivated reasoning without us even realizing it.  My political party office holders / candidates weren’t more moral, smarter, or more ethical than the other side, but I was motivated to find ways that they were.  Once I was motivated to show my side right, I found what I suspected that I would find instead of real Truth.

Once I shed the labels of party and/or ideology, and I instead focused on ideas and values, I was able to much more easily weigh the merits of proposals and candidates.  Maybe the labels aren’t terribly helpful, at least until a coalition is helpful / needed

Politics is not the provision of individuals, but, instead, of coalitions / parties.  Nothing gets done at any level of the government without majorities developing.  However, it is best to start with principles, and then use coalitions to generate results.

Just my opinion.  What do you think?

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