It was really bizarre to see a writer I know come out for McCain – especially after the election. I’m glad she’s done so – I *did* ask for it, after all. I’m a little surprised by her position. I’d mentally presumed that she – like some of the other authors I knew – felt similarly to me politically. She didn’t seem like a wingnut when I met her, and…
…oh, wait. She’s not a wingnut. She specificially calls herself just-right-of-center. And I’m suddenly reminded of Jim Hines’ column from a while back, talking about how politics can divide us.
It was about then that I realized I’d fallen into the mental trap of ideology.
Since the election, I’ve gotten even more ferverent about our President-Elect. Zealous, even. You might have noticed. I still think he’s a fallible man, and that he doesn’t agree with me all the time, and so on and so forth. But those are all things that inspire me even more, not detract from it.
So how can I explain someone – whose opinion I respect – disagreeing with me?
Honestly, I don’t think she does disagree – at least, not as much as one might think. I was intrigued by McCain in 2000 as well (though I voted in the Democratic primary). We both think he got pulled away from his … well, moral center, really … by radical elements within the GOP. We both think his selection of Palin was a cynical choice to pander to those elements. (Kelly, please put me straight if I’m wrong here.)
And I think we’re both truly interested in doing the best thing for this country.
That value – doing the best possible *actual* thing – will be the pragmatic ideal that allows us to succeed. Sometimes we get caught up in our own ideologies – whether it be free markets or social forces or individual responsibility or class solidarity – and forget that ideology ultimately doesn’t help anyone.
I look forward to her constructive criticisms of the Obama administration. I believe that such criticisms are absolutely necessary to keep power in check, keep responsibility where it belongs, and keep us true to our ideals.
Jonathan Haidt has a great TED talk about morals, liberals and conservatives – and how each group is necessary for the others. Give it 15-20 minutes of your life. It’s worth it.
It is stupid to think that any one of us – janitor or president, conservative or liberal, anarchist or libertarian, religious or athiest – has all the answers for all the people. All of us have our own vantage points, our strengths and weaknesses.
We live in a day when that kind of information, that kind of knowledge, can be shared for the betterment of all. Sharing our stories and knowledge may not always have an obvious effect, but the ripples move outward on the pond. Butterflies in Michigan cause storms in Ohio, which bring cherry blossoms to Washington, D.C.
Or something like that.