I reject the notion that our beliefs are beyond critique. I firmly believe, of course, that we all should be free to believe whatever we want. But why do we believe it? Are we correct to believe it? Does believing in it help or hurt our own lives and the lives around us?
Religion is in the realm of the unprovable. We can generally prove that certain prominent historical figures really did exist, but we can’t prove miracles or divinity or other religious doctrine such as the resurrection or the parting of the Red Sea. People of faith see faith (in this sense, meaning believing the unprovable as an act of devotion) as a Good Thing™. Within the conceptual or physical walls of their religion, that’s fine. But when it becomes part of a secular, civic debate, it is untenable. Most religious people realize they can’t expect the rest of the world to legislate their belief system. Neither can atheist neo-buddhists like myself. Society requires compromise to function.
Politics is not the realm of the unprovable. Like astronomy, you can’t set up experiments and run them over and over but you can observe “experiments” in progress and “science the shit” out of them to figure out correlations, theories and best practices for a given outcome. Politics is what we call it when we combine our resources and our talents and try to solve problems together. We can’t solve all problems so we work on things that affect us all. We disagree about tactics and even strategies but in theory, when it comes to American politics, we have the same goal: we want to live in a free, fair, prosperous and peaceful country (and world).
Thus, when it comes to things like taxes, the environment, Syria, Russia, jobs, minimum wage, health care and other things you think are important, we can’t think of it like a football game. There is no “our team” and “their team”. There is only one team. You don’t get points for getting your way and being wrong. When we do things like elect the next President of the United States, we should think of it like we own a company and are hiring a CEO. That is to say, it is imperative we make the right choice! Working against each other is cutting off our nose to beat our face.
When arbitrary opinions become off-the-table for discussion, as if they were religion, and facts are dismissed as subjective (and in this case I mean actual facts like “Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State”), we’ve lost the ability to agree on things. The two teams playing Monday Night Football can’t agree to call it a tie and go have a beer instead of playing the game. Competition doesn’t allow for agreement. When we turn a job interview into a contest, we do a worse job. When we consider our opinions to be above scrutiny, we ensure that we are wrong.
In the 2016 Presidential election what “fooled” the media and some on the Left was that we assumed rationale was going to be part of the calculus. There is no rationale that can justify choosing a xenophobic, misogynistic, narcissist, rich, white liar over the most qualified person we’ve seen for President in our lifetimes. This woman-hating culture is the same one that hated gays until it became untenable to do so. They also hate(d) blacks, latinos, immigrants and intellectual longhairs like myself. The aren’t trying to help pick the best person, they are trying to get a little bigger piece of the pie by pushing others away from the table.
First of all, there is no pie. There is a mistaken notion that there is some gravy train that everyone is on except ourselves. That is false. No extra money will be heading towards Trump voters as a result of their vote. Being logical and compassionate towards immigrants (for example) does not take money out of the pocket of your average American. Far more damaging is The Big Short -style theft that goes on daily due to the “less regulation” that people unjustifiably say we need.
Competition is a great model if you can afford to have winners and losers. When you want everyone to win you need to cooperate. In the case of elections for public office, all that means is honest debate of the issues, awareness of data and its implications and a willingness to leave open in your thinking that you still have things you can learn.
I will never understand how intelligent people could make the choice they made. My only theory is that they were trying to “win”. They wanted payback for 8 years with President Obama. They forgot that George W. Bush left the economy in free fall, that the worst recession since the Great Depression was handed to Obama on his first day and he fixed it! He fixed the economy, reduced unemployment, paid down the debt and got us out of the disastrous foreign policy mistakes that Bush made. He also got rid of health insurance denials for pre-existing conditions, among other necessary things in the Affordable Care Act. And the Right wanted payback for that.
The American people betrayed themselves on November 8th, 2016 and we will all pay the price for it. When you consider your opinions to be unassailable religious doctrine you make shitty decisions. It’s time to put religion and politics back on the list of things we talk about!