Sunday, February 26, 2017

Can't We All Just Get Fiscally Conservative?

I confess.  This article isn't about what it's about.  Okay - it's a little bit about that.  I mean, yes, liberals should be (and I think we are) every bit as fiscally conservative as our conservative counterparts.  But that's just one example of what I'm really getting at.

I'm talking about "inverseness." The idea that being one thing automatically makes it the polar opposite from a complimentary thing.

The nod to Rodney King in the title is intentional.  His brutal beating following a high-speed chase by LAPD officers led to the 1992 LA riots.  It felt for a while like the whole city was at war.  Then Rodney King himself went on television and issued his now-famous "Can't we all get along" speech.  He recognized that, in all of that anger, everyone loses.  Here is a little more of what he said:

"We've got to quit - we've got to quit; I mean after-all, I could understand the first - upset for the first two hours after the verdict, but to go on, to keep going on like this and to see the security guard shot on the ground - it's just not right; it's just not right, because those people will never go home to their families again."

The division in our political world today is almost entirely artificial.  And it all stems from the idea of inverseness.  If I'm a conservative and I say I believe in, say, school choice, then my automatic assumption is that a liberal does not.  I also believe that, naturally, I am right and, therefore, the inverse view is wrong.  If I say #blacklivesmatter, then the automatic assumption of a conservative audience is #bluelivesdont.  This is patently ridiculous, but I think most of us recognize the truth in this observation.

The problem with inverseness is two-fold.  First of all, it assumes the there are only two answers to any question.  Heck, even most multiple choice tests give you four!  And those just tell you to pick the "best" answer, not the right one.  Secondly, inverseness totally absolves us of having to listen to anybody, or even ask, because we assume we already know.  If I'm for it, you MUST be against it.  We couldn't possibly have something in common; that's not how political views work.

I've got news for you: yes it is.  We've just been doing it wrong for a very long time.  If you want to know what somebody actually believes, the dumbest possible way to figure that out is to assume based on their ballot selections.  Ask the open question.  And listen to the answer.  I might just surprise you.  Oh - and stop calling me a "tax-and-spend liberal."  That's a bumper sticker, not an actual thing.

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