Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Relativism and Politics: Are Both Sides Just the Same?

I have strongly held political beliefs. Some of these convictions stem from my Christian faith, such as an opposition to abortion. Human life is sacred no matter what it's age or apparent usefulness. No matter what the inconvenience or complications it might bring.

Other of my political beliefs are primarily based in human logic, but still stem from a respect for authority and the code of law which is part of my Christian belief system. An example of this would be a desire for our country to return to its most basic written set of precepts, the Constitution.

I periodically run into people who have become so cynical about government that the main opinion they can call forth is that politicians are all corrupt. Both sides play the same games. They all cheat, lie, steal, and manipulate. Perhaps this is so.

But to this I have two responses. Firstly, I've read of several studies, some by liberal, some by conservative researchers, that seem to show that conservatives are more moral than liberals. The studies show that since more conservatives than liberals are guided by a specific, unchanging set of religious precepts, they still hold to a black and white sense of right and wrong. Does this mean they are perfect? Of course not. But more than one researcher, and from both sides of the political spectrum, have shown that when a conservative makes a mistake, he or she is more likely to apologize and try to make amends or to gracefully take the punishment he or she has coming. Liberals are more likely to lie and manipulate the information and blame others when their mistakes come to light.

The phrase, "The end justifies the means," is much more likely to be embraced by liberals. Right and wrong have been gradually smeared together so that it's increasingly more common to run into someone who believes this ideology. When I was in college over twenty years ago, this was already a very common value system among those who considered themselves truly learned. They saw themselves as having thrown off the shackles of primitive religion. And now people of that same age and education demographic are running the country.

Let me be quite clear. I am not talking about every single person on either side of the political spectrum. I am talking about a likelihood. Percentages. Unfortunately, I can't even name my sources for this. I guess this makes me a poor researcher. I think I wrote about one such study over a year ago. I know several strong advocates for what I would label liberal causes who are also strong Christians. These people most often oppose abortion, but they don't see that issue of having any real hope of resolution, so they focus on ending poverty and engendering world peace. We simply differ on how those things are best accomplished.

I also know of people who consider themselves conservative who are big wheelers and dealers and will pull all kinds of tricks to get what they want. But again, I'm talking about percentages and likelihood. So don't tell me that both sides are the same. It simply isn't show to be true.

Another important aspect of this is the message. How does one get a message out? In this day and age, survey after survey has shown the mainstream media to be biased toward the left. The left gets their message out. The right does not. And so we go alternative. Talk radio, internet news sources, blogs, facebook and twitter. But simply because the message is not heard on mainstream media, it is assumed to be extreme, inaccurate, biased. And the mainstream news sources feed that stereotype. We are perceived to be blind sheep following those who want to twist the truth.

Many, who might really be fellow conservatives, are loth to believe alternative sources. They are apprehensive to listen. No one wants to be duped. Many do not have inclination or the time and knowledge to prove or disprove alternative sources. And yes, there are some doozies out there. I'm fortunate to be married to a guy who is really good with research. Whenever I need more information, he can either call it up quickly with a few google searches, or if he doesn't have time even for that, he can direct me to possible sources. And I do check things out. I am not naive. I don't follow blindly. I do the research and make a decision. I get involved in the conversation of ideas.

And what is the message I want to get out there? What is the core of my political ideals? How do I decide what side of any given debate I support? In a nutshell, constitutional government. How does that pan out? Smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes, states rights. The government cannot possibly be everything to everyone. They have failed time after time after time. The more the government takes from us, the less we are able to provide for and train our own family, and to give to neighbors and churches and charitable organizations. The more regulations there are, the fewer choices we have in areas of life such as school, food, medical care, cars, property use. And then, a further still lessening of the ability to provide for our own and share with others.

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