The Problem of Oppositional Ideology


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Perhaps it’s a bit of a dead horse to beat at this point, but having an opinion based squarely on it being in opposition to an opposing ideology is dumb. Profound, I know. Hold the applause. Four years of the Cheeto-Lord-in-Chief and his squawking, scrambling opponents (or allies one can never really tell) has taught us this at the very least. Yes, we can talk about how both sides have damaged norms, how both sides are trying to seize more power to become dictators. And how (insert group name here) are oppressed. The real issue to this author’s mind is that today’s ideologies operate and are based solely on their opposition to the other.

Now let us be more specific. No, not the entirety of the two major parties’ doctrines is based oppositionally. But they sure act as if they do. Kevin D. Williamson wrote a brilliant piece titled The Revolution Isn’t Coming. Herein, Williamson, apart from arguing the obvious that a Red October is not, in fact, going to hit our shores, makes a much more fascinating observation/argument. That in America today, most of the policy pushes that are made on both sides of the aisle, although he only points out the ones from the left, are merely attempts at political suppression, domination, and humiliation of the opposition.

Gun laws in their current design only serve often to exacerbate lawful gun owners. Publicly funded abortion is only used as a way to force pro-lifers to bend the knee. And to take an example from the right, making English the United States’ official language to enforce conformity that seems to exist already. Try going around the United States unable to speak at least rudimentary English; it will not go well.

In both political parties, as well as all other political positions, there exist distinct and justifiable philosophical and policy positions. The philosopher Ronald Dworkin defined the separation between liberals and conservatives as liberals being more concerned with equality and the conservatives more concerned with liberty. Both are well thought out positions that have rich histories of political thought.

However, in recent years, issues of extreme importance to our country’s health, wealth, and safety have been turned into a political hacky-sack, as it would seem. We seem to be more interested in owning the cons or owning the libs (or leftists if you wish to be specific). Anything associated with the rival ideology is cast out into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Perhaps it is the case that many parts of these rival ideologies are incompatible with each other, but the entire point of politics is that we are never going to be able to come to a consensus. This is why we debate, campaign, and compromise. To quote the not-so-great Dr. Rusty Venture, “When my kids complain about fairness, I remind them that fairness is the philosophical tooth fairy.” (Note: Venture is a character from the satirical, zany, and down-right weird series Venture Bros.) We never get exactly what we want. But in the end, if we’re going to improve and help society around us, we need to work with people we disagree with.

However, this will never happen if we continue down the road of oppositional ideology. We cannot allow ourselves to sacrifice our reasonably held positions and convictions the moment they become inconvenient to our efforts to bash our opponents’ skulls in. A good first step might be to start trying to believe that your opponents are not all monsters. That they simply believe differently. Crazy, I know.


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