Conservative. Liberal. Republican. Libertarian. Moderate. Democrat. Progressive. Independent. Fiscal conservative. Social liberal.
Those are the descriptors that people apply to themselves. Here’s what some people call and say about the others: “Libtard”, “Trumpist”, and, “You’re a Fascist,” “No, you’re a fascist.” These labels have lost all ability to fairly identify, educate and inform; they are simply insults. And we often hurl these “labels” at each other.
We have weaponized 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. Right? 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 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? Create a home?
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 apply broadly to the issue, not to, say merely 1%, but you use them because they support one side or the other), then apply non agenda-based reasoning. It works. And if the discussion falls off track, go back to the common goals–the touchstone–to get back on track.
Let look at a few examples together:
- Education Goal: Having the best pre-K thru 12 education with the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Note, this does not presuppose one and only one way to get there. None of these goals do. A good starting approach here might be to allow free access to fully funded traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools via vouchers. Allow parents to make the right decision for their children, and allow competition to deliver the best product for the kids, parents and society. K-12.
- Poverty Goal: Getting people out of poverty and into comfort in a way that they can eventually stay there on their own. And providing lifetime support for those who can’t provide for themselves. (Can’t vs. won’t is another discussion.) Responsibility.
- Race Goal: Achieving racial harmony and overall success. Not by using race to support any particular ideology, and not by being afraid of being politically incorrect. We can get there–together–only recognizing the strengths, and, yes, and weaknesses, of each ethnicity. It will take great courage in today’s political climate to speak this necessary truth.
- Gender harmony and overall success Goal: Pause for the truth. Men and women are not the same. And races are different. And herein lies enormous power. We can lean on and benefit greatly from the various strengths of the races and genders, using those positives to shore up the accompanying weaknesses. Learn from each other. Depend on each other’s strengths. In this way, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. 1 + 1 + 1 = 15–or more. But only in this way. If we defy part of the the fundamental genius of God and nature and insist the that all ethnicities and both genders are the same, the whole–all of us–can never be more than, well, a collection of people with much the same to offer. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3–at best.
- Tax and money Goal: Setting tax and other economic policies to maximize the national economy, lower the burden on individuals–and do it in a way that allows the government to do its defined job efficiently. It is not a question of generally preferring higher or lower taxes. The question is clearer than that: 1. How much money is required to support the government in the tasks it does best and 2. What is the lowest tax structure that delivers the required funds while being fair to those taxed?
- Etc. What are some other examples of areas where we have/can have common ground?
None of these questions have easy answers. But all of them direct the conversations away from cliches, foregone conclusions and “proof by insult” or “accusation by identity” toward manageable, productive conversations. Conversations that can lead to, well, results with reason.
Yesterday, alone, I was politically homeless. Today, working together–working with you–I know we will build a political home together, a home built on the foundation of common goals, and erected with “Passionate, Relentless Reasoning.”
Let’s do this together. Find the common goals. Take action. Comment in the blog. Mention the blog to others. Stand by for the podcast.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.