I have a question for any republican or democrat voter. These days, stretching back for a long time, in fact, it seems that the way most people vote is not so much because they’re just thrilled with what one party is doing, but because they’re scared to death of what the other party is trying to do. So picture in your mind that other party, the one you vote against, and see if you can sum up what it is about that party that you find so distasteful that makes you so determined to keep them out of power.
Might it go something like this: the politicians in THEIR party, they pretend to be serving the people and they pretend to care about the country. But they’re really all just liars and crooks out for their own power. You can see that and you don’t know why the people who vote for them can’t, and their policies, the things they try to pass into to law, they’re all about trying to control your choices, trying to make you serve their priorities instead of your own. Trying to foist their values on you. And you don’t like that they claim that what they advocate is for the common good, but you know that their agenda is destructive and dangerous to society.
And they want to force you to fund their agenda to pay for things you’re morally opposed to. They think it’s their business, to meddle in your choices of how to run your own life and to make you financially support things that you’re strongly against. You’re scared of them having power because they’re misguided if not malicious agenda is ruining the country. Does that pretty much sum it up?
Okay. Now, I want you to see if you can sum up why the people who vote for that other party are so determined to keep your party out of power. I’m not asking you if their complaint is valid, obviously, you think it’s not, I’m just asking you to see if you can put into words why from their perspective, they’re against your party being empowered.
Might it go something like this: they think that the politicians in your party, while pretending to be serving the people and pretending to care about the country, are really all a bunch of liars and crooks out for their own power. And they don’t know why you can’t see that the policies of your party, the things your party is trying to pass into law, they think they’re all about trying to control the choices of your political opponents, trying to make them serve your priorities instead of their own. Trying to foist your values on them. And they don’t like it. As they see it, you claim that what you advocate is for the common good, but they think that your agenda is destructive and dangerous to society. And they think you’re trying to force them to fund your agenda to pay for things that they’re morally opposed to as they see it. You think it’s your business to meddle in their choices of how to run their own lives, and to make them financially support things that they’re strongly against. They’re scared of your party having power because they think that the misguided if not malicious agenda of your party is ruining the country.
Does that about sum of their position of your party?
Hmm, does that sound a little bit familiar? Now, don’t bother going into rant to a rant about why you’re right and they’re wrong, because that’s not the point here. The point is, you are both scared of the politicians of the other party getting into power because you don’t want them controlling your choices, making you serve their priorities instead of your own, using your tax dollars for things you think are destructive or immoral, forcing you to support their agenda.
Now, if you both see it that way, is there any way to reconcile this? They don’t want to be forced to serve your agenda, you don’t want to be forced to serve their agenda. Are you just gonna clunk heads for the rest of your lives?
Now, here’s an uncomfortable question. Whenever you think of their values and priorities, are they right? When they claim that you’re trying to force your will on them, trying to force them to bend to your values and priorities? Well, do you vote for people who you know are going to tax them to pay for things they don’t want? Now you can argue about why they should want those things, why they should have the same values and priorities as you, but you know they don’t, and you know the people you vote for would use the law to force them to make choices you like but they don’t like. You know that if you’re guy wins they will be taxed to fund things that you are for and they’re against.
Again, you can pontificate about why it is that what they’re for is stupid and evil and what you’re for is wise and good, but that’s not the point. The question is, do you think it’s okay for you to try to put people into power, put people into office who you know are going to use the force of government to impose your choices upon those other people, choices they don’t like and are going to make them fund things you want, but that they don’t? Do you think it’s okay for you to advocate doing that to them? And I bet you don’t think it’s okay when they advocate doing the same thing in the other direction to you.
Oh, but what you want is good and righteous and necessary, and conducive to a peaceful and just society, and what they want is bad, and unjust and stupid and destructive. Yeah. And they think the exact same thing in the other direction. Pick some government endeavor that you support and think is important, whether its military or the police or taking care of the poor, more funding for public schools, whatever it is, whatever program you support, you know that there are people out there who, for whatever reason, even if it’s just because they’re misguided or ignorant, they don’t like how that government operation is run, and they don’t like being forced to pay for it. Well, if you believe in live and let live, or do unto others as you would have done unto you, do you really think it’s okay for you to advocate that they be forced to fund things they don’t like? And don’t say that that’s just how things are and that’s how the system works, because that’s not the question. The question is whether what you are personally advocating by way of how you vote is in line with your own moral code. And yes, they’re trying to do the same thing to you when they vote for the other guy.
Why is it bad when they do it and good when you do it? Because you know better than them? Does that make it okay to use government to control their choices and make them fund whatever you think is important? Even if you’re right about what matters and what’s important, do you consider it moral, righteous and civilized, to use the force of law to coerce others into making whatever choices you think they should make, and force them to fund things you think they should fund? Is that in keeping with your own moral code?
Politics, after all, is the art of persuasion; the Political is that dimension of social life in which things really do become true if enough people believe them. The problem is that in order to play the game effectively, one can never acknowledge this: it may be true that, if I could convince everyone in the world that I was the King of France, I would in fact become the King of France; but it would never work if I were to admit that this was the only basis of my claim.
– David Graeber
“The illusion of freedom will continue for as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will take down the scenery, move the tables and chairs out of the way, then they will pull back the curtains and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
– Frank Zappa