Libertarian Ramblings

Consistent ideology

Posted by gravisman on November 27, 2008

One of my greatest complaints against contemporary American politicians is that they lack consistent and coherent ideology. Political campaigns, to me, are largely irrelevant because they focus on people and issues – they never focus on ideology.

Observers frequently complain about rampant mudslinging and cry out that campaigns should focus on “the issues.” A point that is never heard, and that I would like point to make, is that “the issues” are hardly the issue at all. US senators are elected to six year terms, and presidents to four years. Despite this, their campaigns typically focus on issues that will only affect their first year in office. The reason we’re stuck in this situation is because many of our politicians and most of our political campaigns fail to even speak of ideology.

Ideology is about abstract ideas. Ideology is about ways of thinking. Sure, it’s much easier for voters to grab onto concrete issues and form opinions about them, but in doing so, they sell themselves short. I, as a voter, don’t care just about whether I agree with my representatives on issues that are in the lime light today. I care also about whether we agree on unforeseen issues that have yet to even arise.

I believe that force should only be used in self-defense and that force in any form is not an acceptable means to political ends. This very simple belief affects my opinion on a myriad of issues from foreign policy to domestic health care. It is many times more useful to me to know whether a representative shares this belief than to know how they feel about the Iraq war. I don’t want to only know that my leaders are opposed to the misguided war we fight today; I want to know that they will stand against the stirrings of another superfluous fight that may come two or three years from now.

I was inspired to write this post to commend Congressman Ron Paul for his legendary ideological consistency. What refreshes me the most is that even though I agree with Dr. Paul on nearly every issue, on the one major issue where we disagree, he remains stunningly true to his philosophies and resists the temptation to be politically over-aggressive.

The issue to which I refer is abortion. When I first learned of Ron Paul’s staunch Pro-Life beliefs about a year and a half ago, I was crushed because I thought it was a deal-breaker since I may be the most hard-core Pro-Choice supporter in the country.

I was reminded of what makes Dr. Paul great recently as I read his book, The Revolution: A Manifesto and he expresses that despite his deep opposition to abortions, he believes the government in Washington should have nothing to do with the issue, because he is a Constitutionalist. That’s amazing. The ability to stick strongly to an ideological belief, such as the Constitution, even in the face of an issue that holds strong emotional significance is exactly what we need from our leaders. What makes this great is that we know exactly what to expect from Ron Paul. We know that no matter what happens, he will stand on the side of the Constitution, and so all we need to do is read it to predict how he will vote.

With so many of our other so-called leaders, guessing how they will react to an issue that hasn’t yet reached public consciousness is a crap shoot. Those things are generally determined by combinations of political expediency, party politics, and the winds of public opinion at the time. Look at G. W. Bush, if you need an example, a man who campaigned on humble foreign policy and has lead huge military efforts into the Middle East. Long story short – we have no idea what most of the people in power will do until they actually do it. That’s a very dangerous way to live.

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One Response to “Consistent ideology”

  1. […] Consistent ideology […]

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