Feature image by Brendan Steeves. Follow the link for more of this artist’s work.
Today is election day. I have little to no clue as to how everything will actually shake out. I have little to no clue as to who will win the election and the direction of this country going forward. But I have hope that regardless, we will figure it out.
In my personal moments, when musing about the various political and philosophical issues that are bubbling in today’s discourse, I often look at issues in two ways, in my initial ideological filter, and then again through a more pragmatic lens. I understand that not everyone believes what I believe, thinks what I think, or have had the life experiences that I have had to get them to where they are in their own personal journeys. And I think that the larger the number of people being covered by any one government, idea, or philosophy, the lighter and less intrusive the touch should be.
Generally, when it comes to a particular national hot-button issue, I ere on the side of liberty and individualism. I privately ask myself if this particular issue is something that needs to be addressed by the government in its slow, hulking, and oft broad reaching way, or if it is a societal issue. Much of my beliefs revolve around people making cultural changes and leaving said changes in the realm of culture because while much could legally be permitted, no one would dare do a taboo thing to another person because they believe it to be morally wrong and that it would violate all the cultural norms.
Unfortunately, we’ve grown rather dependent on passing off our own personal and cultural responsibilities to lawmakers, legislators, politicians, and bureaucrats. We’ve grown accustomed to letting “someone else” make that decision or take care of this group or that group, or of solving this or that problem. And the necessary consequence of this is that we’ve become accustomed to the idea that the government should have the power to right all wrongs, real or perceived.
This is where my second set of ideals come into play. Pragmatism isn’t inherently a bad thing. The Progressive movement in this country has been at it for a hundred years, and they’ve succeeded wildly. People are more dependent on the government than ever before. We’ve grown used to the social safety net, and are becoming more and more used to an ever expanding and more intrusive government. We truly are the frog in the pot as a society. So, my thought is why not use that same pragmatism in the opposite direction? If the Progressives can, I can too.
The first thing to focus on is halting the growth of the government. A government that is large enough to give you everything is strong enough to take it all away. Once we get to that point, it is trimming the fat from the government, and shifting the responsibility back to where it truly belongs, the people. Private charity, personal responsibility. But that’s very long term and of course much of what could be done would have to be done over time.
But critics would say what about this group or that group? What about this specific situation, would you be so heartless?’ My answer to that is that it is heartless for a person to be dependent upon the people who are supposed to work for them. Provisions should be made on a case by case basis, and as the shift occurs, the expense generated could easily become written into the tax code since it seems like we write off all sorts of exemptions anyway.
And so we have it. Be as open, friendly, and cordial to people of all political stripes. Be willing to speak and compromise, but make sure that what you get in return is more than what you give. In doing so, we can move the responsibilities of governing back to the people and reduce the intrusion of government at its largest forms back to what it was meant to be, minimal and only when necessary.