Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Ideological Nation

One of the more telling signs of the growing chasm between the common citizen and our ruling class and their media is the abuse of the words “extreme”, “extremism” and “ideologue” when describing domestic American politics. What’s commonly at the root of the abuse is the lack of a reference point combined with a malicious intent. These descriptors are regularly employed as a bludgeon to drive the populace away from a position that is disfavored among the ruling class. Even if an idea enjoys wide support among the nation as a whole, it too often winds up being described as “extreme”, and those who support the policy as “extremists” or “ideologues.”

For example, Arizona’s law authorizing state law enforcement officials to police for illegal immigrants under the same conditions as federal law enforcement has been described as “extreme.” Polls show clear majorities in Arizona and the nation support the measure. A policy which enjoys such broad support cannot accurately be described as “extreme” if the views of the populace are the reference point for what is “extreme” and what is not.

Clearly then at least one of two things are true: 1) such media are not attempting to be accurate in describing support for a given policy. They are rather attempting to drive support one direction or another. The other possibility is 2) these media are self-referential. If their tiny subgroup considers a policy as “extreme” then they report it as such, regardless of its support in the general population. It is they themselves that hold the “extreme” position relative to the people they are reporting to. Yet because they consider themselves the ultimate filter through which all truth must pass, they report the status of the policy to the inverse of its actual status.

Similar attempts to smear people who stick to principles in public policy debates involve the use of the word “ideologue.” They often use it like it is automatically a bad thing. An ideologue is just someone with an ideology. An ideology is an integrated system of thought about life or human culture. An ideologue can be defined as someone who adheres to an integrated system of thought. The kind of integration necessary for logical consistency, for example. There is nothing bad about that in itself. It’s the ideas that should be judged, not the practice of being logical and systematic in the application of the ideas which one might hold.

The truth is that our political system, including much of the media, does besmirch those with a firm ideology. People with an ideology are too hard to manipulate. Our rulers would prefer that our emotions, not our ideals, controlled our lives. That’s because emotions are much easier to manipulate. Men who don’t follow ideals wind up following personalities. Men who have no ideals for which they will stand will soon find themselves kneeling.

America is the ideological nation. We are not, like other countries, founded from a common ethnicity or language or geographical origin. No, our country is the one nation on earth founded on ideals. We are united by them, and not by those other things. When our Declaration says that men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, those are the words of an ideologue. We must be ever cautious that whatever ideology we hold conforms to the truth, but God forbid that we be intimidated out of ever holding one. For if we do we forfeit the very way of thinking which animates our rights. To forsake ideals and ideology is to forsake the very foundations of our country.


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