It’s pretty self-evident that there are a myriad of political views here in America. Amongst my friends on Facebook, for example, the views range from the ultra-conservative, to the ultra-liberal, and to a completely different axis that leads to apathy and indifference (which I sometimes envy, because all the thinking I do at any given moment often drives me up the wall) and all points in between. I’m not saying any of these stances are bad; I’m just highlighting the range that exists.
What I’m really interested in at the moment is how people – in general – arrive at their particular political stances? For example, how does someone arrive at the conclusion that small government is best, or that capitalism is downright evil? Why do some people uphold the Constitution of the United States as the authority – legally and intellectually – on all things political, while some question whether it’s worth re-examining in today’s context, and possibly worth altering?
But back to the main point. I’m interested to know how people have arrived at their political stances because, at face value, I don’t believe that a lot of people can legitimately answer this question. I believe that if asked, many Americans (possibly including some politicians) would be stumped, or would stammer out some sort of pre-fabricated talking point that they got from the media. And this is not meant to insult anyone’s capability to learn and think critically, but I do think this is sorely lacking in much of the political conversation going on today.
My reasons for even wanting to ask this –very generally, of course – is all of these town-hall meetings going on lately regarding healthcare, and all the subsequent extracurricular activities going on at, or as a result of, these meetings. Unfortunately, the media isn’t helping in any way to calm these people down, so they’re gonna continue. And while I completely respect the right to free speech and assembly, I have to ask: what are these people really mad about, i.e. what’s the heart of the matter for them? Have they formed a coherent political framework in their minds? How so? And have they thought through the ramifications of their views, and taken them to their logical ends? A little bit of critical thinking never hurt anyone. I’m just sayin…
As an aside, one of my pet peeves is people being disrespectful while someone else is trying to speak, so even just seeing and hearing the cacophony at these meetings would be enough to piss me off. Constitutional rights aside, whatever happened to being respectful? As much as we sometimes get upset with politicians, there’s no need to make death threats. That, to me, is un-American; I think we’re better than that.
I’ll end with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard; I think it’s somewhat apropos…
“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”