I wear my political philosophy on my sleeve… which many would tell me is bad for my friendships and my business.
I have not really found that to be true.
Engaging on difficult topics with strangers, friends, even clients, disciplines me to be thoughtful, be kind, be humble, to look for humor, and always start by seeking areas of agreement. Quite often I fall short of this bar, I get prideful about the depth of my understanding, sometimes my temper starts to boil, I become competitive and try to “win” or monologue when I should simply be listening. However, I am regularly brought low when I do these things, when I step outside the proper bounds of civilized discussion. Painfully, though luckily, almost every time I do these things circumstance disciplines me… and I get better.
Whatever skill I have today at communicating my beliefs comes not from inborn ability but mostly from screwing up and doing it wrong then learning and doing better. Whatever skill I have tomorrow or next year will be bred from the mistakes I make between now and then.
But there is something tricky about mistakes, they require you to be making an effort, to put yourself out there vulnerable, maybe naked and afraid, exposed to failure. And in the court of public discussion failures can cost a lot if you aren’t careful, not just discomfort or embarrassment, but personal relationships and professional opportunities. They are scary scenarios and thus most of us shy away or dig in with our chosen team, our personal “ditto-heads.”
I have no idea who my public comments on Facebook and elsewhere over the past few months have caused to block, unfollow or unfriend me. But I know they likely have in at least a few circumstances and that is a shame.
There is so much wisdom out there in the world and we do a disservice to ourselves when we limit our understanding to only those who we safely know agree with us already or those who have chosen to make punditry and policy their life’s work. Each of us has something valuable to say and we are poorer as a society when we choose to insulate ourselves in little cushioned ideological bubbles.
One of the worst outcomes of the current election would be hardening of this partisan division. Not amongst the professional politicos (they want division, their careers depend on it), but amongst private citizens.
We actually politically agree on so much, but the current major parties don’t represent that agreement because consensus and agreement are “bad for business.” Politicians and political operatives work to develop wedge issues, and “keep things alive” for election season. Thus you’ll never learn about the broad agreement that actually exists in the US if you sit in their partisan bubbles.
We have to start trying to talk to each other about hard, important things. It is tough and uncomfortable, but we owe it to ourselves and our children to do government and politics better than the sharply divided circus it has devolved into over the last few decades.
I happen to have concluded that we will not do better by supporting the existing political parties. I think these coalitions have long since coalesced and ossified around agendas that are antithetical to progress and human welfare, and do not actually represent the majority of Americans.
That is one reason I voted Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2012 and will do so again this year.
As I said above, my politics are an open book to any who cares to read it.
If you are seeing this post you’d probably describe me as a libertarian, classical liberal, crazy free market guy, cold-hearted capitalist, conservatarian or some other variant in that range. If asked about my views on specific issues you’d probably say I want far less regulation, an end to the drug war, replacing income taxes with some sort of consumption tax, ending government business subsidies, opening our borders to more guest workers, immigrants and trade, and stopping the continuous expansion of overseas military entanglements.
If you said any of these things you would also be roughly accurate.
Politics don’t end on November 8th, 2016… Though the torrent of propaganda will decrease. After today we get to go back to discussing real issues of principle and policy for a little while before the next election cycle brings on the next false dichotomy, red vs blue, lesser evil debate.
I would encourage us not to miss that opportunity. Don’t wait until we’re in the heat of the mid-terms before exploring issues that interest you or issues about which you feel you need to know more about. Armor yourself with understanding against the onslaught of falsehoods that will inevitably rain down upon us. Start talking to your friends and neighbors about these issues now, from current practical policy to foundational political philosophy.
If nothing else, I’m always up for coffee, beer, and great conversation… Give me a call!