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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Building a Moderate Identity: Post Election Thoughts

The results of this election and some of the discussion I have read/heard have left me a little worried and a little peeved. So bear with me as I attempt explain why, along with some other thoughts.

I’m not worried about Obama. I voted for the man, and I’m behind him. I would list reasons for that, but I have found that most people that ask really don’t want to know my reasons. They’re just assuming I have none, or that they include such inconsequential things as the color of my skin and campaign slogans. People who know me know better than that, and those who don’t know me tend to learn quickly. Please believe me when I say that my vote was the result of a relentless pursuit of information pertinent to the issues I deem important. Also believe me when I say that I’m pretty sure that I have never once uttered the phrase “yes we can” in relation to Obama’s election. I never promised to cast my vote for “hope and change.” I promised to cast my vote for a candidate that I researched myself and agreed with a decent percentage of the time, and I believe I can say mission accomplished on that one. Obviously, that is the part of this election process that has left me peeved.

The specific thing this election season has made me worry about is my own political identity and its compatibility with the current political climate. Economically, I’m a very slightly left-leaning moderate. I’m overall socially libertarian, but I keep pretty close to the middle. The only word I have ever felt comfortable using to describe myself has been moderate. But where do moderates fit in? What do we do when things said by people on either side have this odd ability to simultaneously apply to us and be completely irrelevant to us? At this point, I’m not quite sure. I’m still busily building my political identity, and part of that growth is figuring out where exactly I sit in the spectrum and being comfortable with it. I learn more and more about different people of different beliefs and values every day, and I’d be crazy to even think that I have all the answers and that I know exactly what’s going on with everyone.

Not totally related to the above statements, and possibly needlessly said, any and everyone who can’t see past what they’ve identified themselves as also irk me. Royally. I simply cannot wrap my mind around people on one side that can’t imagine why the other side thinks they’re correct. I can see why liberals believe they’re correct and logical beings. I can see why conservatives believe they’re correct and logical beings. I think both sides say some great things, and both sides say some horrible things. So, here’s what I essentially have to say about the election from that point of view:

To those of you who believe that this spells the destruction of our nation and that it is going to be a disastrous time in which we dissolve into a welfare state – you’re probably wrong.

To those of you who believe that this is the best thing ever and that things are going to change drastically for your version of “the better” and that all of your problems will be solved – you’re probably wrong.

I believe I have only ever had one history class in my life that I enjoyed. And I believe that I enjoyed that class so much because the first major thing that the teacher ever discussed with us hit home with me in a big way. It was something that I had known for a long time, but had never taken the time to articulate. Paraphrased, the truth is always somewhere in the middle. There will always be people around telling some extreme version of what has happened, what’s happening now, and what will happen in the future. It is up to us as intelligent human beings to not take information that we’re provided by some source that we haven’t looked into at face value. We have to pull information from a myriad of sources and come up with our own interpretation of what is factual and what is not. Most importantly of all, we need the strength of character and mental clarity to accomplish that task independently. We do not need other people or institutions attempting to tell us what, when, or how to interpret situations. We don’t need people editing or directing our conclusions.

Of course, our conclusions may not always, or ever, match up with our neighbors’ conclusions. However, I am not of the belief that the proper response to that is to tell your neighbors that they are stupid for thinking as they do. We should listen to one another, and be open minded enough to consider that maybe… just maybe… someone else may have an excellent idea, even though we may not agree with them on any other thing that ever comes out of their mouth.

As of now, that is what I believe to be the basis of my moderate stance – accepting the good and bad from as many sides of the die as I can manage, and processing that information logically to come up with solutions and compromises that we can all live with.

1 comment:

happinessiseasy said...

Good post! Radical Moderates FTW!