Why I’ve Become Politically Agnostic

Why I’ve Become Politically Agnostic

The world we live in right now is an interesting one, to say the least.  The divide among the American public is an embarrassment.  Both parties consistently call each other ignorant buffoons, deplorables, intolerant snowflakes, hypocritical idiots, and entitled unpatriotic athletes.

I can tell you that I’m done listening to any politician, talking head or supporter whatsoever that takes that approach.  It’s not furthering anyone’s cause.  In fact, it’s degrading the very cause that they supposedly stand for.  I just can’t take it anymore.  So, it seems the only option is to be politically agnostic.

I have close friends on both sides of the aisle that are all smart people that I respect.  These folks all have well thought out arguments that have merit.  They’re intellectual and have done their research.

What it comes down to is each of these people come from different socioeconomic circumstances, different races, different backgrounds, and have parents with different perspectives and education levels.

The key is that I respect all of them and their viewpoints.

So, I’ve been on a mission to actually make some political headway.  How, you might ask?

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it is tolerance.  Honest tolerance.  Not the kind that gets talked about at cocktail parties in agreeable company.

In particular, over the past few years, I’ve actively been seeking out opinions and full arguments from those that agree and most importantly disagree with me.  I encourage dissenting opinions.  And when I get them, instead of responding or thinking how idiotic their point of view is and try to convert them, I hear them out.

How might their thought process or perspective have merit?  What am I missing?  Have I considered all sides?

If we seek out other opinions and listen without judgment, we allow ourselves to have productive conversations.  I fully understand that there are certain issues that we will not change our perspectives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hear them out.

Interestingly enough though, I’ve found through the process of honest conversation that my views have migrated.

Many times, because we grow up in different environments with different values and different world-views, by default, our political leanings are different.  That is the beauty of America.  We are a melting pot.  It’s what has made us so great, and we have an opportunity again to take advantage of our differences.

Be open to hearing what other people have to say.  Don’t respond with a “yes, but” or “you’re wrong because”.

If you take the negative approach, the other side will never hear you.  It just encourages the other side to dig in their heels instead of listening.  They’re immediately cultivating their response rather than listening.

Instead, respond with a question that inquires further into their thought process.  Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn’t make them right or wrong, nor you right or wrong.

It might be because there is no right or wrong.  Most topics just aren’t that black and white no matter how much you want them to be (and no, I’m not referring to race).  They’re almost always shades of gray.

Trust me, you can have good conversations with people that don’t share your point of view.  Disagreement does not equal hate or disrespect.  In fact, talking with people that disagree with us is how we evolve our own thought processes.  It’s how we grow.

If we are going to preach tolerance, then we need to actually be tolerant. Tolerance doesn’t end because somebody disagrees with us.  Tolerance by definition embraces all viewpoints, whether we agree or disagree.

Charlie Munger said that “objectivity and rationality require independence of thought.  Remember that just because people agree or disagree with you does not make you right or wrong.”

Independent thought is created by listening and digesting all sides of an issue.  Not your party line.  Not what your family has told you. Not what your friends tell you.  Not journalists. Not real news or fake news.

Independent thought requires you to actually think.  Stop seeking affirmation.  Seek information.  Seek to learn.  Seek to think.  Seek to challenge your assumptions.

Party lines are designed to get you to join their camp.  It’s our camp against their camp.  It will never work.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t feel as if you belong to a group based on your beliefs.

But, I often wonder how much more we’d get along if we weren’t forced into a box.  We don’t have to identify as one or the other.  We can identify as Americans, all working for what we believe is the greatest good.

The purpose of this post isn’t to encourage political apathy, but actual conversation.  If we start having real conversations, we can actually change the tide and find unity.

And if the product of these conversations is independent thought based on hearing all sides of an argument to formulate our own position, we may find more common ground than we initially thought possible.

4 Replies to “Why I’ve Become Politically Agnostic”

  1. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are both horrible.

    Neither represents the interests of the American people anymore. We have become a government “of the donors, by the donors, and for the donors.” Policies of both parties are sold to the highest bidder.

    No one in power respects the Constitution anymore. I include the judges in that. During the Great Depression, we tolerated a judicial coup that allowed the overthrow of much of our Constitution.

    Our schools no longer teach civics and the history of the United States. Consequently, we have generations with no understanding of what government SHOULD do. The fight is all about what the latest bigmouth demands that government do (all in exchange for taxpayer-funded votes, of course). Both parties are guilty of reckless financial irresponsibility. The difference is only in what they want to borrow trillions to pay for.

    We are engaged in a political and cultural civil war for the soul of America. I’ll avoid the temptation here to say which side is doing the destruction because it’ll just open this comment up to partisan attack and create further division. But I will say that we cannot afford political agnosticism. To quote Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    It is more critical now than at any time since the mid 19th century to choose sides. This great country is being dismantled and destroyed from within. We all must choose, outrightly or tacitly, whether we are going to be on the side of the saviors or the destroyers. The future of the United States depends upon us making the right choice. Now.

    Whether Alexander Tytler really wrote the following words on democratic self-destruction or not, they are astonishingly accurate:

    “From bondage to spiritual faith;
    From spiritual faith to great courage;
    From courage to liberty;
    From liberty to abundance;
    From abundance to complacency;
    From complacency to apathy;
    From apathy to dependence;
    From dependence back into bondage.”

    We are now very late in that cycle. And we’re running out of time to change it.

    1. Mike,
      I appreciate your comments and you are spot on. As I said at the bottom of the post, being political agnostic does not mean political apathy. I will still vote at every opportunity. And oddly enough, since I’ve changed my approach, I’m actually having more political conversations that are influencing my personal views as well as those that I speak with. It all comes down to the approach.

      The conversations are more productive because I’m approaching them with a truly open mind, and when others are heard first, they’ve tended to be open in return which opens the door to productive conversations in both directions. It’s honestly been an enlightening process.

      I will counter one point and that is the part about choosing sides. I think that having “sides” at all makes it one side against the other side. As you say, both are guilty of various shortcomings. So, that was kind of the purpose of what I’m getting at. It’s the division that’s generated by the ‘sides’ that is causing a lot of dissension.

      I appreciate your thoughts, thanks for taking the time to respond!

  2. “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its viral unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.” — MLK

    You and I are doing the same thing. I might not agree with the views of one but I will listen. If I find that the argument AND proof are correct, my views/opinions change accordingly. Although there are a few values and beliefs that will not change because the proof is already there: Live within your means — Honor your mother and father — Fight the fights that need fighting, not just for the sake of it — protect the innocent — etc. If the political discussion/views/climate doesn’t do these things then its not helping and is part of the problem.

    In order to keep a battle going/started there has to be an us vs them… When people are fighting they can’t focus on the what really matters.

    1. The only thing the us vs them mentality does is piss off people around us and keep the same people in office that have been there for the last few decards. Clearly not working for us.

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