I’m a political agnostic.
I don’t align myself with any group or ideology and do not identify as liberal, conservative or progressive.
Those are not really political labels, but social ones.
What passes for political debate are really expressions of in-group/out-group prejudice and bigotry. The focus is not on the role that government can play in social and economic challenges, but on winning unwinnable arguments.
I don’t want any of it.
Instead I strive to find out what the issues are actually all about and whether it is the role of government to address them.
But most people seem obsessed with pursuing outrage.
Outrage engages people emotionally, and opportunists on all sides use it to advance political and social agendas. Many people refuse to learn about the dynamics driving social and economic issues. Consequently, they and have no understanding of the complex issues involved and fall victim to superficial “solutions” that serve the needs of special interests.
Maybe it’s just too hard to think about. Maybe the effort needed to read a book or a few academic papers is too much.
It’s easier to parrot the lines of political celebrities – few of whom have any specialized knowledge about the issues they make proclamations about.
Tens of thousands of mostly young people die violently every year in the urban centers of large cities, and we ignore it. Instead we hyper focus on school shootings and argue about background checks.
School shootings claim fewer children than those murdered by parents, and far fewer than child victims of gang violence. Fifteen dead under the age of 18 is the toll of an especially bad weekend in one of our large urban centers.
Google the name of a large city along with “murder” or “homicide” and you will see what I mean.
Chicago celebrated that only 20 people were murdered on its streets in January of 2019. That record is worthy of celebration in light of the 72 shot and 13 killed on a single weekend the previous August.
During the 2016 presidential campaign Bernie Sanders brought up inner city violence, but was shut down by Hilary Clinton who used accusations of racism to bury the issue. It was to her political advantage to do this, but at the obvious disadvantage of people living in a war zone under occupation by militarized police.
But Hilary has a point, of sorts.
When you start asking questions about the source of this violence you can’t avoid talking about the culture of inner cities.
What values drive people to make their homes in these places? What makes membership in a gang so attractive?
Single mothers are held up as virtuous heroes, but if the social structure of traditional nuclear families mitigates urban violence that identity is threatened. Politicians who court the female vote certainly do not want to alienate those voters.
It’s much easier to elicit emotional responses by blaming “deplorables” or “libtards” and focus on character flaws that may or may not exist.
And that is where the bigotry comes in.
Politics is the last place where hate speech is still tolerated.
Robert DeNiro’s remarks at the 2018 Tony Awards is an example.
Criticizing the president is fine, but the use of profanity and inability to articulate a coherent statement is not a political statement. Political discourse requires an understanding of political and economic theory, and a willingness to forgo passion and emotion in favor of intellectual inquiry and dispassionate analysis.
Sadly, what passes for political discourse is mostly people screaming at one another, each trying to extract an admission of defeat from the other.
I don’t want any part of it.