Political discussion are inherently challenging. When talking to someone who holds a different perspective, emotional tensions often flare and misunderstandings abound.
If we can let go of some of our assumptions, and approach the conversation with virtue, we are much more likely to achieve a positive outcome. It might be a good time to ask a few obvious but often overlooked question:
What is the desired result? Why do we have political debates? Why should we entertain the conversation?
The short answer? Because it builds character.
Talking to people who hold radically different views can feel like a lost cause. But, that is only true if we are hellbent on converting them. It’s not easy to convince someone they are wrong.
You might consider a different approach. Try re-framing difficult political conversations as a learning experience. Maybe even allow the emotional provocation to shed light on your personal convictions.
We’re not just playing patty-cake, so what’s the point? The point is to allow wildly different ideas to penetrate the defense of our personal bias, thus affording empathetic insight into another way of thinking.
It sounds a little touchy-feely, but there are logical reasons to do so. Entertaining initially offensive ideas builds emotional resilience and bolsters EQ. This actually stretches the mental fibers, increasing our capacity for critical thinking.
Understanding Logical Limitations
What are our logical limitations? Given our finite lifespan and limited time and energy, we can only do so much thinking. Similarly, we can only accumulate so much knowledge. The fact is, our learning is limited.
This is important to understand. This is the reason that collaboration is essential. If we are trying to resolve super complex and pervasive social problems, we need to have the broadest scope of consideration possible.
Think about one person trying to examine and analyze a large building, say the White House. They could run around the outside and sketch a surface level description. Or, they could focus intensely and ascertain the finer details of some particular aspect. Let’s suppose there’s not time to do both.
It’s may be a silly hypothetical, but it makes the simple point. Logically, a larger number of people are better equipped to examine and analyze a complex situation.
Working toward political solutions at the local, state, or national levels, means working with limited time, energy, and understanding. When we work together, we expand our capacity think outside the box and find creative solutions.
Understanding Political Limitations
That said, there are other limitations that need to be acknowledged. Specifically, it would be wise to wrap our heads around certain inherent and unavoidable political limitations.
Political concepts seek to define and establish social roles between government and citizenry. It really boils down to authority. What authority does the government have? What authority do the citizens have?
Authority is an intriguing concept. Some might say it is a very seductive idea. We allow the government to exercise authority over our individual autonomy in exchange for perceived benefits, such as security or convenience.
What remains to be examined are the logical limitations of this authority. We won’t dive into the deep end here. Suffice it to say, there is a pressing need to reassess the currently accepted preconceptions surrounding government authority.
For now, let’s focus more on the practical aspects of political limitations. Politicians are just ordinary people, albeit with a propensity for social influence. Furthermore, government is just an abstract concept that confers authority on a small group of fallible human beings.
Clearly there are limits to what the government is capable of doing. We should keep in mind when supporting regulations that designed to rid the world of some perceived evil.
Understanding Consensual Limitations
Have you ever tried to get a large group of friends to agree on something? How about a hundred perfect strangers? Follow this train of thought a little further out, and you’ll abruptly encounter the inevitably frustrating consensual limitations.
In large groups of people there are more perspectives being represented, which makes it increasingly difficult to reach consensus. This is precisely why it is unreasonable to expect 315 MILLION people to agree on anything.
So, why does that matter? In theory, government authority is validated by the mutual consent of the governed. But, as you may suspect, it’s a shaky theory to say the least.
Consensual limitations should correspond with political limitations, which would balance government authority with the will of the people. Unfortunately, in the modern political context this plays out in a more dictatorial fashion.
You may have heard the phrase “no taxation without equal representation.” If that doesn’t ring a bell, it might be good to buff up on some history. The idea is that government doesn’t have the authority to take peoples money (tax), without consent.
Put simply, citizens may consent to taxation or other government shenanigans if they feel that politicians are adequately representing their best interests. This representation validates the conference of authority.
But, political consensus is a shifty beast. Emotionally charged social issues are as fickle as the weather. Policy that seems agreeable today, may sound outrageous tomorrow. What is a responsible citizen to do?
Applying political logic means being real about the intrinsic limitations of the political process. It seems wise to keep these limitations in mind as we work toward a mutually beneficial future.