Passion in politics lightens dividing lines

Having an intellectual conversation over a couple of beers is a lot harder than you might think, but the outcome of those conversations are often more interesting than the sober conclusions we come to every day. Allow me to explain.

I was at this party last night with a bunch of really cool people that, just based on appearance, looked like they had absolutely nothing in common aside from a love for drinking beer at 2 in the morning. Literally five minutes after I sit down inside, I’m approached by someone who decided that my laughing hysterically at everything and everyone around me was an indication that I desperately wanted to talk about politics. I didn’t mind though because the alternative was talking about a dominoes game I wasn’t even playing.

So, Mr. Politics and I get to talking, but instead of actually talking about issues, the conversation leaned more toward party divisions and modern media biases. I think we finally decided that even though different channels of media have different sways on reporting the news, some being extremely liberal and others quite conservative, that society today gets an overall balanced viewpoint on what’s going on in the world.

Anyway, about an hour later, the conversation in the room turned toward Mr. Politics in particular, and people argued with him because he called himself Republican but maintained primarily liberal opinions. This upset a couple of those involved in the conversation because it seemed very contradictory that a person could say that they felt one way, but then in practice have mostly opposing views.

After thinking about it, I can see the debate from both sides. I think it is important to stay true to your beliefs regardless of what category they fall under. I think that if you believe something, and you have memories or empathy to back up your opinion, then that’s what matters most. So, if a person feels generally aligned with a certain set of values, but has a couple of ideas that contradict that though process as a whole, that’s acceptable. I’d go as far as to say better, simply because it means that the person isn’t blinded by set of values that eliminates the need for free thinking.

However, it also makes sense, after figuring out what you think about the social and economic issues facing our society today, to give yourself the credit you deserve. Faced every day with people who wouldn’t be able to tell you the first thing about foreign policy, you have a set of beliefs that you could personally back up. Why not fess up to it? It makes no sense to call yourself liberal if you only agree with one or two liberal perspectives, and there’s no reason to hang on to a Republican generalization when the opinions that you care about the most aren’t Republican.

Think about elections, when candidates for big positions take to the podiums and talk about their platforms. No one who sides firmly with one end of the spectrum can expect to please their audience, because neither end of the political spectrum has the right idea every single time. There is a reason that the lawmakers of this country are divided in their ideology, and that is so that, at least in theory, the best ideas from each end can be put to good use.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s not wrong to have mixed views. You can feel one way about social issues and another about economic ones. You can have something different and unexpected to say about every topic that comes up. The point is that as long as you actually think for yourself, it doesn’t matter if you don’t fit into a certain category of thinking. Maybe someday people will have their opinions figured out enough to pick a side and get things accomplished in this society, but in the meantime, caring at all is enough.

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