When I take a “Red” position, e.g., advocating personal responsibility or standing up for fiscal discipline, the Red people see me as a 100% ally, and are appalled when I advocate for something they have put in the “Blue” handbook. Conversely, when I push something from the Blue book, e.g., face masks when in close public contact, the Blue people see me as a 100% ally and are appalled when I take a Red position on a topic like school choice.
The above examples represent dangerous groupthink on both sides.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
Yes, Revolution 2.0™ is not all red, not all blue, but still not at all purple. Purple implies a simple compromise, like you want to spend $40 on our dinner date, I want to spend $20, so we compromise at $30. That’s a meet in the middle compromise. Revolution 2.0 is based on seeking and fulfilling common goals, not compromise for the sake of compromise. And a state, perhaps Colorado, is described as purple if about half of the voters cast their ballots one way, and the other half the opposite way. Both halves may be rigid in how they follow their party’s norms and dictates, but the state is still described as purple.
I describe myself as a man seeking common goals. (How’s that for a party name?) I am registered as Unaffiliated in CO; there are more of those than either Republicans or Democrats here. 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 facts (use the courtroom standards for admissible evidence here), 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. Back to bedrock.
Let’s 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 to achieve this goal 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 education product for the kids, parents and society.
Poverty Goal: Getting people out of poverty and into comfort in a way that they can sooner rather than later stay there on their own. And providing lifetime support for those who can’t provide for themselves.
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 by 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 fundamental genius of God and nature and insist 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.
Abortion/Pro Life/Pro Choice Goal: Given that all of us are truly pro life and pro choice in the original and powerful definitions of the concepts of life and choice, how then do we have an honest debate about this critical issue? If we can decide where we stand on the two following questions, I think we’ll have it:
- When does life begin?
- When is it appropriate for the state to sanction the taking of a life?
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 more basic than that: 1. How much money is required to support the government in the tasks it does best; what is it that the government does uniquely well? 2. What is the lowest tax structure that delivers the required funds while being fair to those taxed?
Statues in general and Confederate leaders and symbols in particular Goal: Fair treatment, even the glaring light of hindsight, has to be the common goal here. The Confederate leaders were not traitors. The Union leaders, notably Lincoln and Grant, did not at all see them in that way. Lincoln yearned to re-embrace the South and all Southerners. Grant gave Lee favorable terms of surrender at Appomattox, allowing the men to return to their homes and letting the officers, cavalrymen, and artillerymen to keep their swords and horses. All the men were allowed to keep their firearms for use on their farms and homesteads. Keep the Confederate statues and symbols in dedicated areas like Gettysburg. Remove them to museums in other areas. And with any statue or symbol, no matter how benign or controversial, the process of deciding whether to keep or remove must–must be legal and democratic. Mob rule has no place here, or anywhere.
Benedict Arnold was a traitor. John Anthony Walker was a traitor. Walker helped the Soviets decipher more than one million encrypted naval messages, organizing a spy operation that The New York Times reported in 1987, “…is sometimes described as the most damaging Soviet spy ring in history.”
Lee and Stonewall Jackson were not traitors. And the men who fought for the South were not traitors; many were brave, no doubt some were not–not a one was a traitor.
COVID-19 Goal: The goal needs to be restoring the economy, education and other needed infrastructures while preserving the physical health of the nation. Doesn’t the best implementation of that goal rest on consistent personal responsibility in taking care of one’s self and others by wearing masks when in close public contact, washing our hands like Alan Alda in M*A*S*H, and maintaining social distancing? Isn’t this the shortest and surest way to achieving this common goal? Sadly, we cannot leave these actions up to all individuals without the force of law any more than we can allow all people to self-enforce anti-smoking and traffic laws.
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, achieving our common goals.Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.