Do the Politically Oriented Really Think?

Does a liberal, or for that matter a conservative, get his or her views as the result of the hard work of critical thinking? Is he or she an independent thinker? Or, does he or she get his or her political convictions from neighbors, from the majority within his or her political group, or from his or her favorite political talking-heads on Sunday morning television shows?

I’ve been wondering lately whether most Americans hold their political views from the hard and exhaustive work of thinking critically, examining arguments, and evaluating discourse. Or, do they merely fall in line with what everyone else thinks within their particular political party? Are they so shallow or are they just incapable of stringing two critical thoughts together? At best, is all they are capable of doing is to follow their party’s thoughts rather than suffer harm to their social standing within their party’s little group by offering a dissenting view?

In other words, does the majority get its views from other people-recycled and rehashed-with nothing original? Man, I think, reasons nothing for himself. He has no first-hand originality. Is this not the extent and source of so much of the political hatred running rampant through America? Are they just people rehashing what they hear from within their little political circles because they are incapable of doing otherwise?

I contend that rational thought in politics is possible. I also contend that political opinion should be the result of engagement. It should be the result of engaging your God-given brain for something other than a hat-rack and learning the principles of critical thinking and applying them. To come up with an original opinion, coldly reasoned, without silly, fluctuating emotions interfering, one must stop caring what his fellow liberal might think of him. The conservative must close the door to what his neighborly conservative might think of his deviation from the party line.

From whence comes the conformity within political parties? Why will the liberal, no matter where you find him – even in Mexico where I live – be able to quote the same rehashed, nasty rhetoric? Where does it come from and just how do they do it? They say the same thing-all of them-without any evidence of it being the result of original thinking. When was the last time you heard a liberal say,

“You know, I think those crazy and wacky Christian conservatives are trying to set up a theocracy in America. Here is the paper I just wrote on this issue with all the pertinent evidence and references for my coldly reasoned conclusions.”

I am willing to bet that you have never heard a liberal utter anything close to this. However, you will hear his or her hateful speech flowing regularly.

(I wonder which of them could even define a theocracy? I have my doubts.)

So just how does the liberal come to believe such a thing? Why is it that you hear this theocracy silliness in all the highways and byways of the liberal’s thunderous hateful rhetoric of the Christian conservative (one of the many things, I might add)? Did it originate with the process of critical thinking? Did it come out of the minds of those who did the hard work of applying the rules of logic and rational thinking? Was it the result of REASONED thought?

No, I think not. It comes from another power that both the liberal and conservative rarely resist successfully. It is the need to conform. Plainly and simply, it is the wish to conform to the thoughts of the majority within one’s political party-childish but painfully true and all too clear.

Our self-approval has its source in the approval of others. We crave it. We seek it. We will do anything for it even at the cost of thinking like reasoning people. We will sacrifice rational, critical thinking for the simple gratification of approval within our political party. If our liberal neighbor is bashing George Bush, we will do anything to NOT STAND OUT with a differing or dissenting view. We will conform no matter what-even if we know better. We will bash too.

All that needs to happen, no matter on which side of the political spectrum, is for an authority figure within that particular political party to go on television and say whatever. Everyone in that authority figure’s political party will accept what is said – that view – as gospel without so much of a nano-thought of examination. The need is so great for acceptance that all it takes is the most vague reference by that authority figure within a political party about something for the vast majority to accept it as set in concrete. There is no examination, no evaluation, no one standing up and saying,

“Oh wait, that doesn’t sound right.”

All it takes is someone of consequence, within the political party, to say something-ANYTHING-and the majority within that party accepts it without a thought.

This, by the way, is true of both the typical liberal and the conservative American. Neither party’s members are immune.

External pressures are always weighing heavily upon us. We cannot escape them. The pressure is always there tying to force us to do what it takes to receive the approval of others even at the cost of using our minds in figuring something out for ourselves. When the person of influence or consequence within our political party speaks, and the crowd roars with approval, we are there roaring the loudest so as not to be seen as nonconforming.

This, friend, is most pathetic.

Politics as well as morals emanate from external pressures and influences. They do not, usually, come from someone who puts in the work, completes the required struggle, and actually thinks to come up with what is right. I wonder more and more if the majority is even capable of doing this. Does any hope remain?

It is the desire for approval, even if it means sacrificing original thought or being seen as someone who does not roar with the crowd, that prompts man to do whatever simply because he does not want to be seen as a nonconformist. It is not as the result of seeking original thought that a man or woman gets his or her own private self-approval but in conforming to the group and thus receiving the group approval. Indeed, the Hegelians have won.

Why is someone a Democrat or a Republican? Is it from an original investigation that prompts one to stand above the crowd and say, “I am what I am out of personal conviction”? Or is it more likely that someone is a Democrat or a Republican as a matter of not wanting to be seen as a dissenter, a rabble-rouser, a nonconformist? Is it because someone just wants to go with the flow-with what the group says is right or wrong.

The wish not to be outside the mainstream of one’s party is so strong that someone will do anything to keep from having to endure the “How can you believe such a thing,” when one dares offer a dissenting voice or position. To escape the disfavor, the menacing glares, the look of shame, the cold shoulder, man simply will stop thinking to win the approval within his party. “He is with us”, means more than, “He thinks for himself.”

Man believes most pathetically that he thinks greatly on matters of political importance. He does not. He thinks all right, but with the mind of the group.

There is no independent thought, just conformity. He reads his party’s literature, listens to the political discussions on CNN-but, God forbid, never listens to Foxnews. He never listens to or even knows what “the other side” thinks. He is told what “the other side” thinks from someone of influence in his party. He is grossly ill informed.

He arrives at convictions drawn from the Hive Mind. There is not an original thought among them. He listens to and is controlled by a force greater than any of us – which both parties, neither is excluded, uses to their dastardly advantage-

“It’s name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God.”-Mark Twain

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