Issue Judo: How Politicians Are Compromised By Their Own Momentum

On the political issues in America our mainstream politicians are more polarized than ever. On virtually every issue we’re presented with two distinct sides in ideological opposition with each other. These sides are represented by the two dominant political parties (Democrat, Republican) and they generally represent the left and the right respectively. They maneuver themselves to portray every issue as a black or white, A or B choice for the voting public. The first problem with this maneuvering, or framing of their argument, is that the choices on a given issue are rarely so cut and dried. Nuance is neglected and foresight forgotten. Career politicians are simpletons after all, and contrast is the oxygen they need to survive. So while mainstream politicians cut quickly to one extreme or another, the voting public tends to be more fluid which better reflects reality. The biggest problem with the dominant parties’ framing of issues as choice A or choice B is that they contradict their principles and lose credibility with the intelligent voting public.

Consider abortion. Those on the left side of the spectrum (Democrat, liberal, etc) make impassioned pro-choice arguments, in particular the right for a woman to choose whether to terminate or deliver the life inside of her pregnant body. This right is backed by the supreme court’s decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973. For now let’s set aside the difficult definition of life. The right side of the spectrum (Republican, conservative, etc) makes impassioned arguments for the federal protection of life inside of a pregnant woman, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling. The right is pro-life and the left is pro-choice, slogans that we’re all accustomed to. The issue, at its core, is a question of whether the federal government has the right to override legal precedent for the choices an individual has to make for themselves.

Now consider gun control. Those on the right side of the spectrum make impassioned pro gun arguments, in particular the right of an individual to choose firearms as a means to protect their life and property. This right is backed by our constitution’s second amendment “right of the people to keep and bear arms”, ratified in 1791. For now let’s ignore the purposes for which the second amendment exists. The left side of the spectrum makes impassioned arguments for the federal control of firearms, despite the second amendment. The left is pro gun control and the right is pro-choice. This issue as well, at its core, is a question of whether the federal government has the right to override legal precedent for the choices an individual has to make for themselves.

The harder each side fights on one issue, the more they compromise their credibility on the other. Complete hypocrisy. For honest reconciliation, the right must concede on abortion to win their position on gun control, and the left must concede on gun control to win their position on abortion. Nuance! And most would agree that the probability of this reconciliation happening is abysmally low.

My solution lies not in the choosing of either side on either issue but in choosing a third way. A way that places a premium on the individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These among ‘certain inalienable rights’ as framed by one of our nation’s Founders, Thomas Jefferson. His own inspirational sources preceding the American Republic – visionaries like John Locke. Through the ages people have decried their time as unique and without precedent, but the beauty in America’s governmental framework lies in its timeless application. We were founded upon certain anticipatory principles, informed by historical reference, that would allow our Republic to flourish for as long as we adhered to those principles. Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of happiness. A simple and explicit litmus test against which to measure our positions.

By rejecting the false choices we’re presented with in favor of this third way, we will deprive today’s career politicians of the oxygen they so desperately need. Tomorrow’s leaders will inevitably emerge who embody the more moderate and sensible views of the voting public, because that’s where new oxygen will be found. The task before us voters is to create that new oxygen by rejecting the status quo and running as candidates ourselves until new leaders emerge and earn back our votes. No more tolerating hypocrisy or settling for the lesser of two evils. Take ownership of your vote and spend it on a candidate who best represents ALL of your beliefs without compromise…even if the only candidate in the field is yourself.

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