Do we have freedom of political thought in America? Your first reaction may be, ‘Of course! What a silly question!’
But do we? Or has our thinking become narrowed by the limited choices presented to us?
If you’re like me, you’re discouraged by an ever-expanding chasm between left wing and right wing thinking.
You don’t always agree with your party’s politicians or with certain portions of your party’s platform, but don’t speak out about them. Endorsing the lesser of two evils seems to be the only alternative.
Perhaps you even feel politically homeless, unable to embrace either party as your own.
You see the problems in America escalating with no solution in sight. You may have even begun to think voting is a waste of time.
The good news is that most Americans would agree on one thing: that our American way of life is worth fighting for.
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 are funneled into two-dimensional thinking that eliminates a whole spectrum of thought.
Instead of focusing on whether ‘our’ side is correct on particular issues, perhaps it’s time to examine the failings of our two-party system as a whole. While we’ve been occupied with topics of the moment such as “fiscal cliffs,” gun control and abortion, we’ve lost sight of some of the basic problems that mar our system.
Perhaps the problem isn’t that people have become too liberal or too conservative. After all, our nation was conceived in the name of freedom. The laws of our land were designed to allow us all to enjoy our own manner of living and our own ways of thinking, as long as we hurt no others.
So why have our differences in lifestyle become more problematic than ever before? Why so much animosity today?
Because when government becomes the arbiter of morality, and is given the task of solving all society’s problems, they must encroach on our lives, whether it’s in our bedroom, in our pocketbook, or in our pursuit of happiness. Our differences become more than a disagreement. They become a fight for our way of life.
As this series will illustrate, when government focuses on a strictly limited 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 quite clear.
Once, “liberal” meant open-minded. “Conservative” meant restrained. Despite the rhetoric, we must recognize that neither of our political parties are truly either of these things today.
Freedom of thought gives us a greater ability to look at both parties critically. When Americans stop feeling compelled to strictly defend one platform or another, we have the ability to support messages that make sense whether they come from either party, or neither of them. Political candidates can then feel less afraid about being autonomous, and can assert independence from rigid party dogma.
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. We need to be scrupulously impartial, logical and consistent in our arguments. It’s harder than we think.
We get the message from multiple sources that we should be fearful of freedom. But perhaps what we should fear more is a government which, by focusing on partisan priorities, is eroding our civil liberties from both the left and the right.
If you believe that you already consider political issues with an open mind, this series will test that conclusion.