With the election less than a month away, we’re in the home stretch of one of the most ludicrous presidential campaigns of all time. While the two major third-party candidates, the barely-Libertarian Johnson and completely batty Stein are giving it their all, the decision will come down to Republican versus Democrat, left and right as it always does.
I was always puzzled by the difference between left wing and right wing ever since I first started hearing the terms. They’re easy enough to describe but something never sat right with me. Ask someone to define what a liberal or a conservative is and the response is invariably a description of values. Liberals are generally thought to be pro-choice, progressive, into social justice, separation of church and state, pro-welfare, anti-big business and anti-war, among a laundry list of other stances. Conservatives on the other hand are pro-life, into “traditional” family values, white Christians that are anti-welfare for the poor but pro-corporate welfare and in favor of the American military taking the fight to the enemy.
What I never understood was what these values had to do with each other. Being against abortion may be about the preservation of life but war by definition is about the destruction of life. Liberals are pro-choice when it comes to abortion, but anti-choice when it comes to basically anything else, from gun ownership to smoking indoors to baking offensive pastries. Christian family values don’t have much to do with gun ownership or welfare for the poor either. Jesus never said anything about guns and as far as I can tell, encouraged charity and helping out those less fortunate.
Democrats are perceived as being the party of the poor and middle class, while Republicanism is for the very wealthy one percenters, never mind that Democrats routinely characterize Trump voters as poor, uneducated, backward small-town hicks. Gun control historically was used as a tool to oppress minorities but now the side calling for gun control is also the one branded as fighting for minority groups.
There is no single fundamental ideal behind liberalism or conservativism. Once upon a time those terms described one’s attitude about the role of government but both major parties strive to maximize government power and spending.
Plus as is brutally evident, Democrats are just as pro-war as Republicans, with Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama expanding the drone strike program and the current bombing of six different countries, all without any declaration of war. There may have been thousands upon thousands of liberals protesting war when George Junior was around but as I’ve said before, the anti-war left simply left when Obama came into power. Being anti-war should be anti-war period, not anti-war when the other team is in charge of it.
After far too many hours of contemplation, the only conclusion I can come to is that there is no single belief or concept that provides a foundation to either major political philosophy and that they are merely constellations of unrelated values that serve as a marketing scheme to polarize the population.
The result is the destruction of individuality. A pro-gun Democrat is considered to not be a true Democrat in the same way that a Republican supporting gay marriage rights isn’t considered a true Republican. It’s fantastically absurd to believe that with the massive diversity people have in values and beliefs, only two main ways of thinking can exist. It makes absolutely zero sense how the vast majority of Americans can fall into one or two camps when those camps have no fundamental basis. Instead of focusing on the infinite combination of beliefs each individual holds, the prevailing political philosophy tells people to assimilate into one party or the other and teaches people to see the other team as a uniform stereotype.
I know Democrats that are pro-gun, conservatives that support minorities and immigrants. I know right-wingers who are staunchly anti-war in all cases and leftists who support giving a bakery the freedom to not bake a cake for a gay wedding. These people are all considered to be wrong by the mainline left and right.
Libertarianism on the other hand comes down to a single concept, reducing the role of government in favor of individual liberty. From this one idea comes innumerable flavors of libertarianism, from tea partiers to mainline big-L Libertarian Party, to minarchists and full-on free-market anarchists. I’m baffled how there can be over ten times as many types of one ideology as there are major political platforms that don’t seem to allow for any diversity in belief.
Don’t vote the party line out of loyalty, don’t be forced into holding values just because of political affiliation, and don’t be pressured into being a stereotype. Modern day politics seek to polarize and divide people but it works because the public lets it happen. Americans need to think for themselves and not give into the false dichotomy and conflict that is left against right. More diversity in political thought gives rise to diversity in politicians and an escape from the stranglehold that Democrats and Republicans have.