We spend a lot of time in this day and age putting labels on people and things, especially anything that hints of political activity. There are, after all, so many! Liberals, conservatives, Blue Dogs, independents, isolationists, survivalists, socialists, communists, Tea Party, Republican Party, Democratic Party, and the ever popular WHIG Party. If you feel like you can’t keep track of all of them it’s not surprising. It’s alarming that we spend so much time dividing and separating ourselves from each other. It would be much more comforting to think that we’re all together as Americans. Is it really too much to ask that we spend some significant time trying to find things we can all agree on? We all want our freedom. We value it highly. We all want our children to have an easier and better life in the future. What’s more, we want to make sure there’s a future for our children to have. We should all agree that there’s too much crime. We should all agree that education of our young is a high priority. We should all be able to agree that our Veterans deserve to be cared for, valued and supported. It’s probably safe to say that we can all agree that as a country, we can’t keep spending money we don’t have. It’s probably safe to say that we all agree that money has much too much influence on politics and politicians.
Most often it boils down to morals. What is and isn’t morally acceptable to us. Most of us, for example don’t really find divorce to be socially or morally unacceptable. Most of us don’t really care if the neighbor lady wears a beaver coat. Few of us find that premarital sex is a sign of outrageous behavior or that having a baby outside of a marriage is a crime against humanity. Most of us do think that a marriage is and should remain between two people not several. It’s quite apparent from the upsurge in the number of casinos vying for our business that most of us don’t mind a friendly wager on a game of chance.
Note: Gallop has done polling on these subjects and you can find their results here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/137357/four-moral-issues-sharply-divide-americans.aspx
It seems clear. There is a lot we Americans agree on. It’s also clear that there isn’t much that really divides us. We care about the same things. We want the same things. We have similar attitudes about a wide variety of subjects and yet we spend a great deal of time trying to lump ourselves into one group or another in an effort to exacerbate the differences.
During election cycles our differences are most notable. That’s because we start lining up and choosing sides as if we’re about to play a game and we need to choose the teams. We argue, we debate, we editorialize and pontificate. News cycles, straw polls, and sound bites dominate our daily lives politically. We seem to have forgotten our similarities and are busy identifying our differences. Liberals and conservatives square off and battle lines are drawn. There is just one major problem. We all want the same thing! What we want is the best person for the job. We all want the most qualified, talented and charismatic leader we can find to lead us. Whether it’s for Mayor or President we all want the most honest, the most driven and the most qualified candidate to win.
In the end, we’re left with a choice between two. For most of our history it’s been Democrat versus Republican (there was a time when there was a Democratic-Republican Party…who knew?). Two camps vying for the same office, one usually liberal and the other usually conservative. In a perfect world, the differences shouldn’t be that easy to identify.
Being a conservative shouldn’t evoke a certain hatred for democrats or mean that government shouldn’t grow as the population it represents also grows, but it shouldn’t grow for the sake of growing either. Being a conservative shouldn’t always be accompanied by a paranoia surrounding liberals or academia or even people whose religious perspective isn’t quite as staunch as your own. Being conservative should mean that you favor the ‘slow and steady’ over the fast and furious. Being conservative should mean that while you recognize that change is inevitable, you prefer to manage the pace of change so that it shouldn’t become unfettered anarchy. Being conservative should mean that you want your government to act responsibly and spend money as if it belonged to someone else…like the taxpayers!
Being a liberal shouldn’t infer any involvement with Green Peace or hugging a tree. Being a liberal shouldn’t brand you as a socialist. It also shouldn’t mean that you automatically disagree with anything a conservative says. Being a liberal should mean that you favor having a government that acts responsibly toward all of its people. It should mean that you want the government to do what you believe we pay it to do. As a liberal, you want the government to protect those who can’t protect themselves. Being a liberal doesn’t mean that you want the government to keep spending money as if there were an endless supply, after all, liberals have to balance their own checkbooks too!
In the end, it comes down to the one thing that makes America great. The right to vote. We examine, we question and we decide. Ultimately, we should all choose the best person for the job regardless of party. We don’t, but we should. I submit that when you decide who to vote for, you throw out your definition of liberal and erase conservative from your vocabulary. Instead, think “better” and “best.”