How free are Americans to truly have open, broad-minded opinions about politics? How candidly and incisively are we able to consider issues and come to our own thoughtful conclusions?
Not as free as most would think.
In the United States we’re given a left vs. right choice that theoretically makes up the entire range of political opinion. But it doesn’t. Instead we’ve been funneled into two-dimensional thinking that eliminates a whole spectrum of thought.
Today’s partisan system actually impedes our ability to think. Evidence has shown that it not only hinders those at the far ends of the spectrum, but has obstructed rational and critical thinking for American society as a whole.
Animosity towards those who don’t share our political leanings is at an all-time high. Bias from both sides has stalled meaningful political dialogue. The focus on the freedom to live and think as we choose has been replaced with an endless debate over whether we should be ruled from the left or the right.
The laws of our land were designed to allow us all to enjoy our own manner of living and our own ways of thinking. But over time our government’s focus shifted from protecting the rights and freedom of all to being our moral authority.
While Americans have been caught up debating specific topics of the moment such as bailouts or gun control, we’ve lost sight of some of the basic problems that mar our system.
We’ve been herded away from the impartial scrutiny of issues. Too often we feel duty-bound to keep silent when we don’t agree with our party’s stand on an issue, and feel resigned to turn a blind eye to the misconduct of its politicians. If our views don’t fall neatly into one of two categories, we’re left politically homeless.
The media leads us to believe we’re all red or blue. Complicated and multifaceted problems are discussed in short sound bites and generalities. Simplified issues may be easier to argue but don’t lead to the best solutions. The inadequate choices we’re given often lead to unresolved problems.
Perhaps the problem isn’t that people have become too liberal or too conservative. Perhaps, the problem is that when government is given the task of solving all of society’s problems, our differences become more than a disagreement. They become a fight for our way of life. By focusing on partisan priorities, our freedoms become eroded from both sides.
Politicians in power would like you to think our only choices are “us” or “them.” They maintain their authority by convincing us that anyone who doesn’t tote one of two established party lines must be an eccentric or a fool. They’ve succeeded. Too many of us feel obliged to adopt the political labels of “conservative” or “liberal,” and see no alternative but to support the lesser of two evils.
The first step towards thinking freely is understanding how bias and the distortion of truth has affected us all. Too many people are disenchanted with politics but can’t put their finger on why. What we’re lacking is a political point of view that allows us to step outside the left and right designations that limit the thinking of most Americans.
The goal of this series is to challenge readers to take a hard look at status-quo assumptions. Too rarely do we have the opportunity to reconsider the framework within which we think about government, or to create fresh, intelligent dialogue about politics.
How did we get to where we are today? Free to Think will examine how biased thinking, distorted incentives, and a political shift away from personal liberty has affected our political system.
This series will illustrate that when government focuses on an agenda that curtails the political power of bureaucrats, big business and special interests while enforcing personal liberty, tolerance and justice for all, many of the issues that seem to have become unsolvable suddenly become much easier to sort out.
To discern why government seems to be failing us in so many ways, we must take a giant step outside partisan biases and look at the big picture. It’s harder than you might suppose. We’ve grown unaccustomed to thinking for ourselves.
When Americans no longer feel compelled to strictly defend their party’s platform, they can more thoughtfully consider political messages that come from either party, or neither of them. This series will demonstrate how we can find the best solutions to today’s national issues through open-minded and non-partisan political thinking.
Do you believe that you already consider political issues with an open mind? This series will test that conclusion.
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