Zack Vayda and Political Morality
If you clicked on this link, it's probably because you're thinking to yourself, "Political Morality? That's an oxymoron." And normally I'd agree with you. Morality would probably be the last word I'd associate with politics, particularly considering the consistent immoral twilight we seem to be living in now. But I'm here to tell you that, yes, there is such a thing as Political Morality. Or, more accurately, there is the opportunity for it.
Every aspect of the world we live in operates within some framework of rules. There are guidelines for how to do business, there are guidelines for how to raise your children, there are even guidelines for war (don't shoot the medics, for example). And because of those guidelines, the world operates that much smoother. So why is it, then, that we as American citizens don't follow any sort of guidelines when discussing politics?
As most other people, I've been trying to keep up with current events and issues within our government. I've read and listened to dozens of conversations about topics ranging from gun control to climate change, and not a single one of those debates has ended positively. Every single conversation ended with both sides bickering back and forth, often resorting to personal attacks completely separate from the original topic of discussion. Why is it that we can't seem to have civil, constructive conversations, especially considering how important these topics are?
It's because there are no established guidelines. There is no Political Morality. Wouldn't it be worth it to follow a few simple political guidelines if it meant that some of these heated debates could actually do some good, as opposed to spiraling into barbaric pointlessness? Of course it would.
And this leads to Guideline #1: Everyone desires Political Morality. Everyone wants discussions of politics to be useful and positive, and that fact in and of itself is uniting. Sure, there are select few that are in it just to cause problems, but they aren't worth our time and are therefore a non-factor. Maybe next time you feel an opinionated subject coming up in conversation, you could lay the moral groundwork by letting everyone involved know that you desire Political Morality in the ensuing conversation, and that you won't settle for less. By doing this, you are elevating the conversation from the get-go.
Another reason political conversations can turn sour so quickly is because we give politics too much say in our lives. It's important to remember what the government is and what it isn't. The government is one, very small aspect of our lives, and what does or does not happen in politics in no way influences who we are as people. If the government were to disappear in an instant, we would still be here. Guideline #2: Politics have nothing to do with You. Remember that you are you completely separate from politics, and so is the person you are conversing with. Keep politics in its place.
Probably the most important guideline to remember is Guideline #3: If you can't see any value in your rival's perspective, that's a "you" problem. I'm not saying your rival is correct, I'm just saying their perspective is not completely invalid. No one supports a point of view without a genuine belief in it, which means there is value in every opinion. If you can't play devil's advocate and understand why your rival believes what they believe, that means you are blindly arguing your point. It means you are the problem. It means you need to do a little research before getting into the next conversation.
At the end of the day, the government is here for us, not the other way around. Between you, your political rival and the government, the government is the oddball. If you can go into the next debate knowing everyone desires Political Morality, politics have nothing to do with who you are, and that your rival believes in something valuable, this country would be one step closer to Political Morality.