Why now, but not before?
For the last few months, I (not very often) made my voice known on the current political season. And as we all know, some blowback would occur. (Blowback will virtually ALWAYS occur over this subject. I don’t mind it.)
However, one might argue this: “Carson, you’re a new school owner. Why would you risk upsetting potentially half your clientele when they’re just getting used to you for the first time?”
You’re right. There is a risk. This risk is exactly why, in the past, I have been politically quiet. I simply didn’t view the previous political decisions as a big deal. I voted for John McCain back in 2008, but I am not really an Obama-hater. I think John McCain would’ve made some good decisions and some bad decisions. I think Obama, likewise, made some good decisions and bad decisions. But alas, America continues to chug along, regardless of who was president.
However, I am louder this time, for many reasons that I won’t go over here. Because this time, more than ever, I feel like the world is watching us more. I feel like we are deciding what we are like, who we want to be known as.
But this post is actually not about the “who’s” of this election, but rather, the rules that I play by when deciding where I will stand concerning politicians.
So rather, for those of you deranged enough to WANT to peek into my head, here you go.
My rules of engagement for politics
- I have two political weapons: My vote and my voice.
- Do not become a “single-issue voter”
- In order to succeed in American politics, you must lie to the people (unfortunately). Therefore, all politicians are liars.
- Although all politicians are liars, there is a truth to be found in this fact: Their words show us what they want to be known as (we call this the “Facebook” rule). Therefore, judge them by their own words, not by the words of their critics.
- Be careful that I am looking for what I believe to be RIGHT, not what I believe to be BENEFICIAL TO ME.
So let’s expound on these.
Rule #1: I have two political weapons…my vote and my voice
The definition of politics is “the art and science of influencing the decision-makers.” Most of the time, politics is when the lobbyists try to influence those in positions of power to make decisions that benefit the lobbyists. But every election cycle, the people who want to be in power have to influence the decision-makers (the voters, the delegates, etc.) to vote for them.
For this reason, if people say “hey, just vote and shut up” then they’re really just saying “Hey, if you’re going to fight, fight with your pinky and not with your two fists.”
Now, we must choose our battles. It is unwise to create conflict over every little decision. But if we believe that this decision is actually not “just another decision”, then it makes sense to use both the vote and the voice.
“But what if it damages my business or my reputation?” That is why I’m usually quiet…it’s usually not worth damaging those things. However, if I choose to be outspoken, then I must accept the consequences.
Rule #2: Do not become a single-issue voter
A teacher at Corban, who taught American Thought and Culture, gave this wise advice: Don’t become a single-issue voter. Vote holistically. Here’s what I mean by that.
You can usually lump me into the “religious right”. So yes, I happen to be pro-life and not pro-choice. However, there is a danger that comes from that camp, or ANY camp for that matter. Take this, for example: “I am pro-life, therefore I will NEVER vote for any candidate who is pro-choice!”
Wait, never? So that is the ONLY criteria you are watching for? So if someone is pro-life, but has a destructive foreign policy, you’ll vote for them? If someone is pro-life, but cares not for the poor and disenfranchised (people that were pretty important to that Jesus fella, yes?), you would vote for them?
Voting requires a look at all of the issues. Not just a select few.
Rule #3: All politicians are liars. Because that’s how we’ve made it.
I believe in America, and I take esteem in our country. But that doesn’t mean I believe in our political system, nor do I take esteem in it.
It is easy to sway and manipulate the masses, unfortunately. We have seen this in history time and time again. Especially when we, on both a micro and macro level, seek to hear what we want to hear.
If I, as a taekwondo instructor, listen to those who love my classes and ignore those who don’t like my classes, because “they just don’t get it”, I lose a wonderful opportunity to improve. I remember in high school, deliberately asking select people “was she flirting with me?” because I wanted to hear what I wanted to hear, and I deliberately didn’t ask people who would tell me “Nah, you’re reading into it.” Yet what I wanted to hear didn’t seem to change the facts: The girl didn’t like me.
And, I’ve found, I’m not the only one.
When the vast majority of individuals can say “Thank you for telling me I was rude to that person, I’m sure that was uncomfortable for you but I think you’re right, I really was rude,” then I think that our political system won’t be broken anymore. Until then, the candidate that tells us what we want to hear will be our favorite, regardless of what is actually true. And we will seek lies and reinforce liars.
Rule #4: The Facebook Rule. Even if their presentation is a lie, it is still truly what they want to be known as. So judge the candidate on their own words.
Many people on Facebook are lonely. Many people on Facebook put up pictures of themselves hanging out with friends, in order to look more social. So although they are lonely, they want you to think that they are social and popular.
Is this a lie? Is this true?
There is both a truth and a lie to be found here.
Lie: They are social.
Truth: They want you to think they are social.
(Remember, just an example. Don’t go hunting through your Facebook page thinking “Liar. Liar. Liar.” Not the point.)
Or another example. Two dads suck, and never prioritize their kids. One dad has, as his profile picture, their favorite motorcycle. The other has a picture of him and his kids.
Notice the difference here: Although one fails to value his kids, he still values the people thinking he values his kids. The other just doesn’t care regardless.
Now, back to politics!
I do not dismiss EVERYTHING that the candidate says as a lie, because I’m looking for something: Who does the candidate want to be known as?
Therefore, I do not judge Trump on what others say about him. I judge him based on his own words. I do not judge Clinton on what others say about her. I judge her based on her own words. Even if they are untrue, they still show what they WANT to be known as. That’s gotta count for something.
Rule #5: Look for what I believe to be right, not just what I believe to be beneficial to me.
When I was in elementary school, I remember a bill getting passed in Oregon: Cigarettes would have an additional tax attached to them.
I remember looking at who voted for it, and get ready for the results!
Cigarette companies voted against it.
Smokers voted against it.
Non-smokers voted for it.
Interesting, right? I didn’t hear any stories of smokers saying “Hey, I don’t want others to get addicted to this stuff, so I think the tax is a great idea.” I also didn’t hear of any non-smokers saying “Hey, don’t tax them just for doing what they want!”
Look across the board: People vote for what benefits them. But what about what they believe to be right? (Most actually make it easy: Whatever benefits them is right)
Rich people vote for lower taxes. Poor people vote for more benefits.
I don’t have time to get into the issues right now, but that’s the next question I ask: Do I believe this to be right? Or do I believe this to benefit me?
These are my rules of engagement for politics. It’s my hope that these are agreeable and wise, and I believe that regardless of what side of the political climate you’re on, they can be agreed upon and appreciated.
Have a good election season. If there even is such a thing…;-)