On every political issue that comes to my attention I use what I call the FOPO method. I examine the facts, opinions, projections, and options regarding America’s problems and the solutions being offered. It’s a tedious methodology, but so be it. I like to think of myself as a free thinker when it comes to political problems and I believe most Americans believe they are as well. But are they truly free thinkers, or are most Americans following a tribe or even an individual?
What I’m about to say is going to make many of you upset because it’s true. But first, let me tell you a quick story about 2016.
During the Presidential election season, I was considered to be a “Never Trumper.” I opposed Trump’s nomination, though not to the point that I would endorse or vote for Hillary Clinton. I suspected Trump’s presidency would create problems for the nation, but nowhere near the damage that his only viable competitor would bring to America. So, I was a man without a valid candidate.
Since then, I’ve been systematically disowned by many who continued to live in the Never Trump camp. They say I’m a traitor to the cause for agreeing with the President when I think he’s right. Conversely, I get attacked by the cult-like following the President enjoys who believe no matter what he says or does, he’s right. They attacked me when I opposed the bump stock ban, tariffs, and the get especially annoyed when I chastise him for his “straight talk” on Twitter that makes him sound like an idiot.
Then, there’s the Democrats. It doesn’t matter whether I praise Trump or criticize him. My Twitter profile has the word “conservative” and “Christian” in it, so whatever I say must be wrong. I grew up in the Reagan era when Republicans and Democrats could agree on some things and disagree on others. Today, everything is extreme. Everything is polarized. This tribal attitude is why a majority of political-knowledgeable Americans are so adamantly opposed to the people they’ve chosen to demonize.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of bipartisan solutions since they invariably turn out to be watered down versions of actual solutions. The widely popular criminal justice reform bill is an example of bipartisan action that does great damage to the nation because it gave wins to both sides. I’m not against being polarized. I just believe the polarization needs to be based on one’s own personal ideology based on their experiences and research and not one based on what this President or that journalist or this political party is saying or doing.
Here’s the thing. When you hand your opinions over to a tribe and let them tell you how to think, you’ll get contradictions every time.
Both sides want to have their cake and eat it too. Only free thinkers who examine each political issue one at a time through a lens of their own ideology can truly break free of tribal devotion or obsessive idolatry of individuals like President Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders, President Obama, or Ron Paul.
This comes down to a truth that should be higher on everyone’s political decision-making priorities list. That truth is this: Never rely on any individual or tribe to decide your political beliefs for you. You can and should embrace a political philosophy at the core of your belief system. Then, by understanding that philosophy the best way you can, you should decide on an issue-by-issue basis how you want it handled by your elected officials, or when appropriate, by you and your family as American citizens.
The biggest problems with American politics is that the vast majority of Americans are ideological followers. Sadly, most either won’t admit it or are unaware of it because through deceit or delusion they refuse to accept that they base their ideologies on what other people tell them to believe. It’s like in Orwell’s 1984 when it was declared, “Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”
The reader and the lucid characters in the book knew that they weren’t at war with Eastasia until that moment, but the narrative had overwritten reality. They were told the new truth and most willingly accepted it as the way things had always been.
The most obvious recent example of this is with tariffs. When Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders were pushing for tariffs against China, the majority of Republicans were screaming, “free trade, free trade!” Meanwhile, just about every Democrat in America was supporting these tariffs. But something strange happened. President Trump started talking about tariffs. Suddenly, Republicans and Democrats alike reversed their perspectives. Less than three years ago, over 70% of Republicans opposed tariffs on China while over 90% of Democrats supported them. Today, it’s the exact opposite.
This reversal is almost funny because Schumer himself came out and gave the President a compliment, saying he thought President Trump did the right thing with the tariffs on China. He had to because they were identical to the tariffs that he had proposed to President Obama.
They were the same exact tariffs, but the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats shifted their views based solely on who proposed them. Let that sink in for a moment. This is incontrovertible proof that most Americans not only support people more than ideas, but they probably have very little understanding about many of the ideas they’re instructed to support.
All too often I see people on social media molding their beliefs around the people they idolize. This was seen for eight years with President Obama and now for two years with President Trump. It needs to stop.
Facts. Opinions. Projections. Options. If more Americans took the time to research the issues and form their perspectives based upon an understand of their ideology, we can have real discourse. Americans need to stop worshiping their idols or obeying their tribes and start doing some thinking for themselves.