We have reached a bit of a political lull after the crazed frenzy of super Tuesdays, constant debates, Donald Trump versus Megyn Kelly and what used to be an exciting Democrat nomination race which has turned into a bit of an inevitability.
The right is focused on the right. The left is focused on the left.
We have reached the eye of the storm.
In just a handful of months, negative ads will rain down on the opposing candidate like never before. Lies will be spread at a record pace and people demonized into comic book-esque villains. The right will turn their guns on the left and vice versa in what the left and the right are declaring to be the most important election since 1844, when James K. Polk took office and, well, did the things that James Polk did.
Image credit: Nevada Policy Research Institute
It all seems inevitable. This is what we have to look forward to until at least November, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Pretty depressing, right?
So why is it that we are at each other’s throats? What turns mere political differences into blood feuds? Why is there such animosity between left and right?
The reason, believe it or not, is actually pretty simple.
Our government has grown so far outside of its own constitutional bounds that it has become the primary vehicle of progress for both sides. Because the government continually holds more power than it was ever meant to wield, each successive election becomes more and more important with each new power granted to it.
Whether you measure progress in the growth of government or the restraining of it, all the strides that can be made in a couple of hard-won presidential terms can be undone in a single election.
Unfortunately, we have reached a point where both parties seem to believe that the government provides the biggest and easiest answer to any societal problem. This creates a double-edged sword with each major election. Not only can the winner undo all of the things that the other party accomplished, but it can then install its own system of values and principles that it will force the other side to abide by, imposing them through the over-powerful and barely limited government.
When the left wins, it installs massive bureaucracy that forces many on the right to swallow programs and policies it finds immoral and unfair. When the right wins, it promises to roll back that same bureaucracy and forces the left to swallow a government it finds immoral and unfair.
This is why we are at each other’s throats. A victory for the other side means several years of an immoral and politicized federal government that has enough power to affect everyone’s life in a myriad of ways, not all of which are agreeable to your values.
Our political differences, in a constitutionally-limited government, should elicit barely more than a shrug from the opposing side. If a government is severely limited in what it can do, then the parties are equally limited in how much they can impose on each other.
This animosity between Republicans and Democrats will simply grow in equal pace with the growth of government. Until we can understand that societal issues are best solved by society and not government, our differences will continue to breed more animosity and disgust.
We also seem to suffer from a self-imposed political quarantine by believing that the other side is somehow delusional and mind-numbingly stupid. This, perhaps more than anything, is the great lie that tears us apart.
It is very true that there is a stark difference between the sides. I have no intention of trying to blur the line between left and right to make it seem like there is none, that would be just as big of a lie. That line though, is much simpler and more basic than you might think, and understanding the simplicity of that line could help to remove us from our ideological vacuums.
The real difference between left and right is not really in what we are trying to accomplish, but how we are trying to accomplish many of the same things.
Let me show you: The left screams bloody murder if you try to touch entitlement programs. An expansion of food stamps is a wonderful thing for them! Their programs expand the federal aid that is given to people in poverty. They believe that the government is the most effective way to reduce poverty levels.
The right screams bloody murder if you try to expand entitlement programs. An expansion of private industry is a wonderful thing for them! Their programs seek to divert money away from the federal government and return it to the business owner who can then hire people and expand. They believe that the private sector is the most effective way to reduce poverty levels.
You see, neither side is happy leaving poverty untouched and widespread. We both want the same thing - fewer poor people. But how we accomplish it is where we differ.
Both sides want more people insured, but we differ on how to get there. We both want safer streets but argue over how to accomplish it. Democrats want better wages just as much as Republicans do - we just don’t agree on how to reach that.
Simply put, our difference is not in our goal, but in our approach.
If we could realize that moving those different approaches out of the federal government and into the hands of society and individual citizens to try, then we would be ok. No longer would your approach force me to abandon mine. No longer would my approach ruin all the progress of yours.
No longer would your victory mean my misery. No longer would my victory mean your undoing. We as a society should be able to tackle our problems in various ways that each of us believe is best and right.
Having diverse ideas for how to solve the same problems is a good thing!
There is no reason why two people trying to solve the same problem in different ways should become mortal enemies and devote more energy to defeating the other rather than solving the problem they set out to fix.
That is madness. It is also our current political system.
So rather than butt heads for decades on end trying to stop the other side from winning, how about we use our heads for something more productive.
We don’t have to hold hands and sing kumbaya by the campfire, but we also don’t have to turn every election season into a Saw movie marathon.
Our current animosity does not have to be the natural state. We could each try to accomplish many of the same things in our own ways at the same time. That would be worlds better not only for the two political sides, but for the people we are trying to help. After all, aren’t two approaches better than one?
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