A Modest Proposal by a Moderate Anti-Partisan
Unless one has been brought up in a political vacuum, it is hard to avoid spending at least part of his lifetime enmeshed in one partisan group or another. Many people are so over-exposed to a polarized viewpoint that they jump to the other party in a fashion often as polarized as their parents', if not more so. The majority of both these parentally wound up rebels and those who retain their parents' polarization tend to mellow with time, the non-rebels more likely than not to find peace with the angers of partisan zeal at an earlier age.
Then there are those who never really feel passionate about either choice of viewpoints, the black or the white. These folks usually blend in with the soft and fuzzy middle of the party's spectrum, ranging from rabidity through hardliners and moderates, and are little more to the various political leaders than empty votes to be herded with nightmares and platitudes into one camp or the other during the endgame of the election. That is the reality of those who control our society.
What of ideology? What of the left and the right? Partisanship has always played a part in human politics. I could go on for pages on the roots and changes, the evolutions and revolutions in political thought, but it all can be summed up simply: partisan = tribal. Any division of us and them that is not agreed to by all parties involved is tribalism, whether you call it that or nepotism or left-wing or right-wing. In other words, even if it makes you feel as though someone broke your dolly to hear it, partisan politics is always wrong when applied to a constitutional republic such as the U.S., or to Western democracy in general.
Now let us be clear on this definition. If something is Bad (TM), it means that anyone who insists on doing it, well, he is part of the problem instead of part of any defense against or solving of.
What good does that do us? the moderate majority asks. Much more than you are doing now, says the voice of the Ghost of Reality That Can Be.
The first step is to recognize a partisan when you see him. Next you must apply his own misconceptions against him, making him out to non-partisan eyes as the fool or tool he is. Then you must offer a viewpoint that ignores completely the rhetoric and rancor of either side while laying out a "triage" of the particular subject being misused by the partisan for his own benefit. Only then can common sense and compassion, love and reason, coexist within one commonly held platform. The chaos of partisan laws and regulations will dwindle over the years to a constitutionally sound minimum of solutions to commonly recognized needs, problems, and aspirations.
The first step in being able to recognize the dysfunctions of partisans on both sides of the spectrum is to know what it means to be non-partisan. "IIIB DFI / IIIB FI" is the basic DNA of the moderate political viewpoint. That is, (I)f (I)t (A)in't (B)roke (D)on't (F)ix (I)t coupled with (I)f (I)t (I)s (B)roke, (F)ix (I)t. The moderate mind has no ax to grind on the back of the rest of society. Moderates respect traditions that are respectful of individuals who do not choose to follow them as well as those who do. They look at problems that consistently vex any part of society and seek solutions that remove both the present problem and the broken social compacts involved from all sides. In criminal law, the ultimate rule they follow is one at the heart of our constitutional system of laws and legislation and was best enshrined in words by Thomas Jefferson when he declared issues that neither picked his pocket nor broke his leg as being outside the authority of the law.
This is not as radical as it might sound. Even in this lawyer-plagued age, the majority of American law still comes down to there being a need for economic damage or personal injury of a definable sort for there to be a criminal matter at hand. Granted that there have been far too many decisions that have hinged upon injury that was, at best, a pleasant figment of the plaintiff's imagination, this is still the hard core. It is time that we stripped away the dross and remembered it, purified it, made it enduring once again. With more and more moderate viewpoints, this self-reinforcing foundation of U. S. legislation will assume the prominence that Jefferson would have wanted to see.
There is no crime more partisan in nature than to declare yourself harmed by the expression of an opinion that disagrees with your own. Because of this, a reliable self-check on the peer-induced pull of a slide back into a partisan mindset is to force yourself to ask, What's in this for me? If you answer "nothing," then either you are lying to yourself or you have no reason to think the solution or change you desire would be good for anyone, let alone everyone. If you answer honestly and, after examining your own self-interest in the matter, would still publicly endorse the course of action considered, including the fact of your own lack of "altruism," then you have passed your self-check with flying colors. This is all that is needed. This is a willful process for denying yourself the luxury of self-deceit. Self-deceit, cognitive dissonance and groupthink are the flying monkeys of partisan thought. Not only will they get your little dog, but they will feed him to their cats for his own good.
What is the difference between the two kinds of partisan? Can either be trusted to babysit your yak? Not much, and heck no are the answers that ring in the ear of anyone with a partisan-free outlook.
Again and again it will be seen that both sides share common mental frameworks and have preconceptions and presumptions that are essentially the same. There are, however, differences in how they see themselves, as rebels to the system of values by which they were raised (or mis-raised) or as a defender of that same, or a purer, system. In other words, the right works the system and the left games it, but they both are justifying their black and white, dissent-denouncing tactics by resorting to some ultimate authority, whether it is a blatantly human-created set of "values" to be rigidly adhered to or a "sacred and revealed" text direct from God commanding obedience to various tribal codes to avoid divine retribution.
Both sides seek to use their authorities' ultimate nature as a lever against any and all dissent or opposition. Regulations, whether secular or theological in nature abound, and censorship along orthodox lines is promoted as a penultimate virtue, the greatest virtue being faith that any abuse that the partisan becomes aware of is a sadly necessary price on the road to Utopia*/salvation/Nirvana.
*Utopia is a word as well as a fictional nation embodying the word. The meaning of the word is "Nowhere."
Guy DeWhitney is writer/graphic artist raised in California. A Katrina survivor, Guy returned to Los Angeles, decidedly preferring the earthquakes. His author’s website is GuyDeWhitney.com.