CHOOSE to Pay It Forward

 

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Do with it what you will

Pay It Forward.  The redemption of all humanity lies in those three words.  One person, having been the recipient of the kindness of a stranger, acts to make the life of a third soul better in return.  The notion elevates the spirit and elicits hope in a world gone mad.  An idea; it begins with one person.  

“Welcome to Starbucks!  Please pull through and pay for others.”

– Recently, a drive-thru customer placed an order and offered to pay for the person behind them in line.  The Starbucks employees then took the pay it forward idea to the next level by asking customers to continue the forward paying by telling people: “someone has paid for your order, would you continue the forwarding and pay for the person behind you?”  This continued for awhile until some heartless, latte with extra foam at the mouth obsessed caffeine addict, who hates Haley Joel-Osment and couldn’t be derailed from getting a fix, chose not to partake, tipped the barista, and thus ended the tradition-in-the-making of the forward thinking payers and staff. (The man had actually gone to the Starbucks to deliberately stop the pay it forward program, which is also flat out ridiculous)   

In the movie of the same name, when a wealthy man is helped and then “returns the favor” by giving his car to a man who was in an accident, the natural progression of the pay it forward ideal is on display.  This is quite different than the employee implemented pay it forward program at Starbucks, supposedly inspired by the noble pay it forward ideal.  When the actions of one person, choosing to give to another, are publicized and then utilized to pressure and persuade others to do the same, pay it forward transforms into a social obligation.  This is compulsion disguised as good nature. 

The foundation and purity of paying it forward is in the very first action.  The instigator acts with the idealistic hope that the world will be made better, one person at a time.  One person is helped and then must choose to act to help another.  The manner and circumstances of the next step rely on the judgement of the “forwarding payer”.  This choice lies at the heart of the distinction between cooperative aid and compulsive welfare.  

Even seemingly benign persuasion, such as a barista informing a driver of the circumstances, places social pressure onto the situation, corrupting the self-driven desire to actually pay it forward.  One person who decides to anonymously purchase a drink for another deserves the brief esteem and the joyful smile that accompanies such action.  The next person in line does not yet possess such moral clout.  The benevolent baristas, and their promotion of groupthink, deny the second customer the choice each one of us has every time we approach a counter to check out.  At any time we can pay for the refreshments of others.  When such a choice is made, make sure it is a choice; not the clinging collective bandwagon’s hollow infatuation with the generosity of one person who made a genuine choice to give to another.

Perception vs. Reality (or The Mob vs. Sanity)…in Ferguson, MO

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Perception or Reality?

Two wrongs make a riot…

Prejudice and bias are part of the human condition.  Perceptions vary based upon belief and experience.  What does not vary are specific, objective events and actions.  I may feel it is hot today and you may feel it’s cold but neither of those perceptions has any effect on the fact that it rained this afternoon.  The “rain” is objective reality while our feelings of hot and cold are the perception of that reality.

To connect this to current events, see Ferguson, MO.

The tragic events, compounded daily with further violence, illustrate the attempts to affect objective reality with subjective (opinion-based assertion, not facts) perception.  No matter how we (you, I, they…) feel (perceive) about the shooting of Michael Brown (and the subsequent rioting) the reality is this: Michael Brown (who was black) is dead due to the bullets from the gun fired by a white police officer.  This description requires no opinion.  However, the cause of the officer’s actions are as yet unknown.  What Michael Brown was doing just before he was shot is not conclusively known either.  

What has occurred in the aftermath, the violence and rioting, has been based upon preconceived ideas, prejudicial beliefs and subjectivity.  A vulgar tantrum meant to displace law and order.  Reality has been replaced with a perception of reality.  This perception is meant to justify the lawless actions of the mob while condemning the (as yet unknown) actions of the police.  Rather convenient for a mob, wouldn’t you say?  If only the police would shoot a black kid in every town, we could all get new TVs… 

For argument’s sake, let’s say that the worst case scenario proves true: a police officer sworn to protect the citizens of Ferguson, instead, shot and killed Michael Brown because he was black.   That would be a terrible, gut-wrenching circumstance that would compel the justice system to impose the maximum penalty under the law.  However, I have some follow-up questions:

-Should the citizens then be allowed to burn the town, break shop windows and steal private property?  

-Has the racism of the entire justice system, police officer hierarchy and caucasian populace finally been exposed?

-Have young black males been exonerated from taking any responsibility for how they conduct themselves in society?

Answer to all: HELL NO!

No matter what the investigation discovers, the law prevails in the United States.  If the officer acted improperly, he will be made to face the consequences.  But nothing justifies the response of violent pandemonium and race baiting.  Race hustlers Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton appear when a black teen is shot by a white cop, or if no cop is present, a white-hispanic neighborhood watchman (see George Zimmerman).  They preach of the injustice of the past and the hardships caused by the racial inequalities of this hate-filled evil empire, the United States.  

Yet, these opportunistic, self-involved, hypocritical, disingenuous, short-sighted, vitriolic race hustlers conveniently overlook the inconvenient facts that make up reality.  For instance:

-they stay well away from commenting on those black youths killed in big cities like Chicago where 7 black people alone were killed by gang violence during the weekend that preceded this post, after the events in Ferguson

-2,648 black people were murdered in 2012.  Of those killed, 2,412 were murdered by a member of their own race

-white privilege has supposedly sustained an unjust society despite the actions of the civil rights era and the boom in entitlement spending.  According to this perspective, the responsibility for the actions of underprivileged minorities lies not with the individuals themselves but with the same racist society: e.g. the birthrate of children to single mothers and the prevalence of violence and drug use among the black population.  Supposedly everyone’s fault (due to white privilege), not those who engage in such behavior.

-despite the claims of rampant racism throughout the police force in Ferguson, MO, and the pernicious threat of violence against minorities due to such racism, there has never been another shooting (that is known, at this time) by a police officer in this town.

No Justice, No Peace.  This is the battle-cry of the mob.  It’s unsettling melody can be heard wherever the rule of brute force is attempting to replace the rule of law.  The guillotines of 18th century France fell to the same beat.  

Today, the violence continues without any acknowledgement that the process to dispense justice is well underway.  The truth will come out so true justice can prevail.  Then, the race-hate industrialists will pack up and declare victory (no matter what the outcome).  They will hide away from the daily violence suffered by the urban black communities, and from the real causes of that strife.  They will wait until once again, prejudice can be used to stoke fear.  

Perception (as peddled by the race hustlers): racism still exists in this prejudicial society where white privilege prevents the economic mobility of minorities who are the regular victims of race-based violence and discrimination by private entities encouraged by the state.

Reality (as displayed by objective reality through the prism of my personal bias): racism does, has and will continue to exist. However, it is not a debilitating force paralyzing minorities.  Both individual citizens and state institutions have overextended themselves in their attempts to alleviate the pains of the history of discrimination.  Political correctness has become a toxic attribute of our leaders and the media, preventing objective analysis and disclosure.  

Nothing can change our history of slavery or the often deplorable treatment of Native Americans but, then again, no one responsible for the institution of slavery or any western massacre is alive today.  Equality can only exist under the law, not in the utopian fantasies pursued in the name of social justice.  People of every race in the United States are protected and punished under that same rule of law.  Where evidence exists of prejudice within our system of justice, laws governing judicial malpractice will be enforced.     

If the police shoot an unarmed teenager because he is black, the full weight of law enforcement will be brought to bear against those officers.  If the police use deadly force to protect themselves against an imminent threat, then they have done their job as trained and should suffer no legal consequences, regardless of the tragic circumstances.

Everyone can follow the activities of the race hustlers Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.  The venom they espouse is easily tracked.  (Read here about Sharpton and the false allegations of Tawana Brawley)  Their interest is in furthering the notion of a racist America, not to better our society by focusing on similarities and solutions.  They engage in doublespeak that both denounces and encourages the violence seen in Ferguson.  

REALITY: the United States continues to suffer reactive violence and infighting due the duplicitous perception that casts a peaceful future aside in pursuit of the phantom menace of a racist America. 

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”- Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Convenient Compassion…on the World Stage

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A Brave New World segment

Compassion-(noun) sympathetic concern for the sufferings of others  

Do unto others and so forth…right?  The halls and walls of kindergartens everywhere are bedecked with this slogan, meant to guide the preciously precocious as they start out in life.  Each child (ideally) respects one another out of the compassion felt for others and the desire to be respected in turn.  If only humanitarian crisis, political agenda and foreign policy followed this roadmap of the golden rule.  If only…

Enough with the fluff.  

It was not long after the shooting began that protesters took to the streets.  Israel had retaliated against the aggression of Hamas and decimated another section of the Palestinian population.  The casualties grew, ever-more lopsided in Israel’s favor.  What was previously only latent resentment became open anti-semitism, complete with attacks on synagogues and Jewish businesses  Out came the cries of genocide and unwarranted violence against the helpless Palestinian civilian population.

The protesters would see Israel retreat and allow Hamas to attack.  They would have Israel share its defenses with its enemies while condemning it for making such defensive advances in the first place.  Utilize the technology of the Jews in order to wipe the Jews from existence.  All the while, Hamas uses these helpless civilians as fodder to protect its weapons.

This type of hypocritical protest is an emotional dilemma I dub Convenient Compassion.  Now compassion is supposed to be comprised of empathy and action based upon the mutual bond of  humanity.  Tragedies, injustice and great suffering compel human beings to act on behalf of other human beings.  Convenient Compassion allows people, like those desecrating the synagogues of Paris, to simultaneously believe that Israel is an evil aggressor AND that further violence is warranted in revenge.  (Not violence deemed necessary to confront a great evil but violence to destroy the private property of Jews thousands of miles away)

Convenient compassion makes allowances for public outbursts against the “genocide” of Palestinians while ignoring the Christians who have lived in Iraq for two thousand years and are now being exterminated by another Arab terrorist group, ISIS.  It permits the selective criticism of the destruction wrought by Israeli attacks while possessing no comment on the charter of Hamas which reads in part “so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement”.  It demands that the world recognize an independent nation for the Palestinian people (this demand is mostly directed towards the United States since the U.N. is already considering a Palestinian state) while simultaneously silently supporting the calls by Hamas and Iran for the unmerciful destruction of the Jewish state.

Convenient compassion is the emotional cousin of the intellectual idea of moral relativity.  It attempts to create a subjective gray area and issue a moral blank check to the Palestinian thugs masquerading as leaders.  Good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative are supposedly only states of being, dependent on the perspective of the individual or group in question.  There is no objective morality and therefore no right and wrong.  Compassion is only felt when it is a convenient outlet for hostility, in this case against Israel. (and the United States as her ally)  Hamas is permitted to engage in hostilities and break cease-fire agreements while Israel is supposed respect the rights of those dedicated to her destruction.  

Contrary to these invertebrate beliefs, there is a right, there is a wrong and it is not so convenient to the moral relativists.  Israel exists and the living have an obligation to themselves to protect life.  Hiding behind children while launching rockets is the act of a coward (Hamas).  Blaming the retaliatory actions of those who warn and then follow through with their word (Israel) and fire into that crowd is the act of a delusional coward*.  Supporting one terrorist group and ignoring another is oblivious (at best) and demanding peace while supporting the side that wants war is in-credible.

Convenient compassion contemptibly corrupts the circumstances of a situation that is actually quite simple.  One side wants the other side dead.  False accusations of hate, genocide and persecution thinly veil this pervasive motive.  However, one must be careful with such accusations.  As another ubiquitous aphorism of kindergarten states: when you point your finger, there are three more pointing back at you.

The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel.  If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war – Benjamin Netanyahu

 *the rational explanation for my accusation of cowardice is that the rocketeer is forcing the children into a situation that imperils lives other than his own and attempting to justify the actions using an ideology that seeks to destroy an entire group of people. 

Make Them Bake Cake

A Through The Looking Glass segment

The Constitution protects the rights of the individual. A free market imposes its own consequences.

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Two gay guys walk into a bakery…

What motivates you to work well?

Is work obtained through force as “good” as work done by choice?

To compel a shopkeeper to work against his will is possible, even justifiable with the myriad protections against discrimination with which places of public accommodation are required to comply.  What is more difficult, and most likely impossible, is to require that same shopkeeper to work with the same focus and pride when compelled by force as he would on a project chosen, agreed upon by both parties (business and customer) and compelled by dignity, pride and fair trade.

The basis for the laws banning public discrimination stem from the civil rights legislation of the 1960s that sought to correct the racial injustices of years past.   An issue that individualists had with these civil rights actions is that the legislative acts required not only state institutions to eliminate discrimination but privately held facilities as well.  Now, I understand that an exception to the laws against discrimination for private businesses is a tough sell.   A simplistic argument in favor of this position would sound something like “I believe in the right to hold prejudicial beliefs based upon superficial characteristics like skin color…but I promise I do not hold those beliefs.”???

Rand Paul, the senator from Tennessee, had an interview on MSNBC where he discussed this issue. (Watch it here)  As the interview progressed it became ever the more clear that interviewer was seeking the damning soundbite.  The phrase “I believe that people should be allowed to discriminate” is most likely one that Paul agrees with, given the proper context.  However, the media malpractice that occurs with political interviews can spin these remarks so that Rand Paul is framed as another run-of-the-mill racist republican.  And indeed, that is what occurred. (As evidenced here.)  But Paul’s position is based on the antithesis of the reason that his liberal opponents would cite.  It is not hate that drives this position but the love and respect of freedom.

Example: A wo/man is raised to adulthood by loving well meaning parents who, nevertheless, impart certain prejudicial views, based upon nothing deeper than skin color, unto their child.  The child, now adult, carries these views while pursuing an education and starting a business.  These prejudicial views may be at best unenlightened stereotypes and at worst deplorable vitriol, but they do not entitle the state to determine how this individual must use legally acquired and privately held property.  Just as an individual has a right to prevent anyone from trespassing upon a home, this belief extends that standard to any office or service enterprise.  It also protects the property of the mind and body, belief and skill.

Obviously, this freedom-based perspective has not won out in the world of business or the courts.  Legal mandates dictate that businesses may not discriminate against anyone based upon certain legal protections.  The creation of these protected groups ostensibly serves to eliminate discrimination but falls well short of both justice and equal treatment.  The basic consequence of this interference in the marketplace is that these protections run counter to the government’s most basic responsibility: to protect the rights of the individual, even if that individual holds despicable points-of-view.  The protections against state interference with regard to speech and religion extend beyond the printed word and the established church.  They protect against the invasion of the individual, the beliefs held and the abilities possessed.

Moving into the present, cultural conditions being what they are have recently required that a Colorado baker create a cake for the wedding of two men, despite the religiously held beliefs of the baker against such a ceremony.  This decision, while soundly within the law, illustrates the distinct, opposing views of state intervention.  One side defers to the rights of the individual, a founding tenet of the United States, whether or not his personal views are misguided.  This view recognizes the baker’s private property interests and the lack of constitutional authority held by the government to compel labor from individuals.  This view also defers to the marketplace for its own consequences that are immeasurably more efficient and effective than government regulation.

The other view increases the involvement of government in business and trade between individuals.  It demands that a centrally located government body determine and mandate what is best for all rather than allow the individuals to determine this for themselves.  It requires that individuals act against their will, to utilize hard earned skills, engaging in acts against their most deeply held beliefs.  This view requires governmental action, through compulsion and force, to control the citizenry.

Governmental action also attempts to replace any consequences that befall racist shop owners that would arise due to the natural conditions of a free market economy.  If a known racist is openly hostile to potential customers, it is likely that the rate of customers would fall and the racist businessperson would no longer have a business.  Government need not exert any effort, or tax dollars, in promoting consequences that could be carried out by free individuals.

But there is one area that any amount of governmental interference cannot control: it cannot compel people to care about the work they do when compelled to do it.  Under the guise of equality, this interference by the state directly undermines productive, dedicated labor resulting in a product that is less than equal.

Who is served by the use of a sacred skill when the love of labor is lost?

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

George Washington

 

Congress At Home

Disapproval with Congress Begins and Ends in the Home

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The solution to the discontent…

One has to wonder about the purpose behind the consistent polling asking Americans about overall trust in their elected leaders.  It seems to be a futile endeavor analogous to a game of limbo where the pollsters are asking “HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?” set to a crazy mambo beat.  The only interesting tidbit to arise from these polls is that there are still some potential voters who approve of congress.  This number tends toward the low double digits but, nevertheless, what is it that these optimists find so commendable about our feckless “leaders”?

As to the overall approval numbers, the mystery remains.  I gather that some people, basking in the proverbial bliss of ignorance, agree with very specific, partisan driven actions taken by one party that promotes an ideology similar to their own.  Perhaps we have found that 15% of people have the inability to say no.  Either way, it is an open ended mystery that remains.

Specific to the approval numbers (or rather mass disapproval) is the view that voters hold of individual representatives versus the congress as a whole.  Congressional incumbents are consistently reelected.  Elections are held every two years reassuring these pillars of society, on a regular recurring basis, that their leadership is invaluable and that it is everyone else in congress that is the problem.  How can it be personal if a senator or representative was just reelected to a 36th term in office?

Bottom line is that voters approve of the individual reps from the location in which they reside, as long as those reps belong to the appropriate political party and share the appropriate positions on the appropriate issues.  This is the case in the vast majority of districts represented in congress.  Due to various redistricting methods by both parties, few house districts are actually competitive in the sense that both parties must fight for votes.  Democrats have their urban strongholds and republicans have the dependable rural bastions and/or suburbs.  If the voters in a particular area are dominated by either conservatives or liberals then there is no doubt as to the predictability of the outcome in said location come election day.  And to a great extent, this is as it should be.  People deserve to be represented by those who reflect their own ideals.

The other side is, when you have repeatedly voted in members of congress who supposedly act upon certain ideals, at what point do those ideals become the source of disapproval?  Is it the person or ideology?  The answer is neither in the case of present day politics.  It is the other guy and the other ideology that is the source of all discord and misery.  This is how incumbents maintain a 90%+ reelection rate and yet congress maintains an approval rating of 15%.  Voters are convinced that responsibility and fault lie within the distant capital and that the votes that they continue to cast represent a rebellion against the grain rather than business as usual.

As long as disinterest in both local and national elections continues, due to feelings of frustration and general impotence, whoever goes to Washington will do what they do as they have always done.  Political candidates must be compelled to communicate to voters about why those voters should care about political candidates and the elections in which they run.  It is then up to the voters to find those people who will act according to the constitutional principles by which they are limited and charged, and encourage them to run for political office.  Such candidates will be able to challenge any dysfunctional incumbents or at least compel the sitting representatives to justify their continued existence as representatives.  The good ones will be able to provide a record of service and place it before the voters come election day.

Reflect (or discover for the first time ever) upon who represents your area.  Your district, state, school board, dog catcher etc.  Empower yourself with the knowledge that you control whether or not these people continue to work for you, and for the rest of us.  In some cases, the tough reality is that the problem lies in the disengagement that starts at home.  It has festered for too long.  The beauty here is that such decisions need not be fatal.  Change, real change can occur with new elections.

But nothing changes if nothing changes.

The Political Spectrum Part 2: Musical Chairs

Changing the Spectrum

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The traditional political spectrum places ideologies, and their corresponding parties, in between identical extremes: absolute control by a centralized state, i.e. totalitarianism on the left and authoritarianism on the right.  This traditional view ostensibly assigns differing attributes to the same statist control of a National Socialist state and of a Communist state.  The space between these two ideologies spans virtually the entire spectrum and yet, the de facto methods of governance under such regimes represents a distinction without a difference.  Basically, for all of the particulars in the middle, traveling to either end of the traditional spectrum finds that each end culminates the same way.  No matter what ideology, if taken to the extreme, ends in total control by the state.

This perspective creates a sense of balance to the ideological universe and has an underlying moralistic warning to boot: the danger of devotion to ideological extremes.  Another interesting aspect is the lack of the anarchist or minimalist vision (or lack thereof) of government.  With all-powerful state control enveloping all other in-between ideologies, there is not room for a vision representing no government at all.   Moreover, there are ideologies, while widely separated on the spectrum, that have much in common and some closer together that have much less.  As a visual aide in explaining ideological differences, the traditional spectrum of political visions leaves a bit to be desired.

So, how better to situate the differing ideas permeating modern political thought?

Where do the ideas of the past sit in relation to these ideas?

***A thoroughly examined and consistently logical approach has been described by Craig Biddle of the Objective Standard.  I highly recommend his article, and the site as well.  

Instead of the inconsistent mess of the left and right spectrum, housing socialists and national socialists at different ends, an altogether restructured approach categorizes similar ideologies together.  This is as it should be.  This approach can vary and actually create alternate spectrums that have slightly different criteria: one based upon individual rights and one on the limits of governmental power.

THE SPECTRUM OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS- In terms of the protection or violation of individual rights, rights violating ideologies that utilize extreme force are placed on the far left and the most protective ideologies are on the far right.  According to this idea, a very small centrally focused system could still be extremely controlling and violate the rights of its citizens while a system with a massive national defense can still prize and protect individual liberty.  Ideologies are situated based upon how free the citizens are to interact, trade, engage in business and religion, and so on.  Statists are next to statists on the spectrum, regardless of their titles.  Commies and Nazis together at last.

In fairness, in case my bias in favor of this approach is too glaring, a valid criticism of this view might be that groups with special interests often attempt (and succeed) to utilize government as a tool in “preserving” rights.  It might not be long before an erosion of the respect for individual rights takes a back seat to the common good.  This would create the illusion of individual rights with subversive state control.  (See Germany circa 1933)

THE SPECTRUM OF LIMITED GOVERNMENTAL POWER-  The size and scope of government as reflected by an ideology has a direct bearing as to where that ideology is situated on this spectrum.  The more influence and control that the state has, the more expansive the government.  A strong federal system would be placed further left and total anarchy would be about as far right as possible with little or no state control.  A problem with this view is that government could be strong in certain areas and still promote the safety and rights of its citizens.  National defense is an example of a role that really only a strong government can play.  This requires “larger” government in terms of size and money but does not necessarily mean that there is more control over the citizenry.

And so it goes…

At this point you may be thinking that all of this specificity is about as intriguing as the prospect of rearranging your sock drawer.  If your eyes have glazed over, shake it off and remember the fundamental point:  all of this is meant as a tool.  Any political spectrum is merely a means to the end of discovering more about political thought and how the different systems relate to one another.  Ideas and opinions change. (or “evolve” to borrow the phrase du jour)  Answer these questions about yourself: what truly matters and how do you feel about the issues of the day?  The ideologies will reveal themselves.  They are simply the coating, the name given to the deeper body of ideas that drive the changes made, for better or worse, within our political system.  Once you identify with an ideology, the manner of proper governance becomes clear.

The Political Spectrum Part 1- Finding a Place to Sit

The Traditional Spectrum 

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The opposing parties, factions and ideologies that create the implemented policies of every governmental system are as necessary an evil as ever there was.  The rule of an “infallible” leader has dominated much of history, as seen with the divine right of kings and today in brutal North Korea.  China has attempted to govern through collective leadership with collective (or state) ownership of property.  Direct democracy was in place in ancient Greece.  The United States is often referred to as a democracy when in fact we have a representative republic, with elected officials creating policy instead of the direct approach where all citizens vote on all issues.

“The effect of [a representative democracy is] to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of the nation….”

-James Madison.

Each approach to governing is endowed with certain attributes.  They all possess similarities and differences and when placed together form what is known as a political spectrum.  This spectrum can help anyone looking at the various ideologies to discern the distinctions and determine where one sits among the vast array of thoughts being thunk.

A political spectrum is a classification of existing ideologies that visually demonstrates how these perspectives relate, ideologically speaking, to one another. The centrist or moderate points of view are positioned in the middle of the spectrum while the more radical views, as in ideologically driven, lay on the ends of either the left or right.  Hence the phrases left and right wing, radical left and radical right.

In my experience, most people are not ideologically driven.  They work, have fun and know about issues that are perceived to directly affect their families.  There is not much investigation as to where their stance on those issues places them in terms of ideology or why they should care.  However, that is not to say that people are devoid of greater opinion or principle.  Principles, beliefs and opinions all correspond to specific ideologies. Views held on economic issues, like free versus controlled markets, or social issues, like abortion or same-sex marriage, are all categorized by these belief systems.  People who have never connected the dots from an opinion to a specific belief system still share or oppose views held by the most ideologically driven members of their shared society.

So where do these beliefs position an individual along the spectrum of ideas?  The distinct political parties and leaders the world over are all a part of groups that subscribe to one ideology or another, sometimes parts of two or more.  These groups, and the corresponding ideology(ies) are situated on the political spectrum and like-minded individuals can determine in whose company they keep.  Sometimes knowing who it is that shares a certain ideology can drive people to or from a specific line of thinking.

Side Note, for example, the slur ‘nazi’ is thrown around as a political epithet, meant to imply that a political opponent is evil, immoral, without conscience, a potential hate-monger, killer and genocidal maniac; a really bad guy.  The power of the word ‘nazi’ is that it embodies all of these negative attributes, without ever identifying them specifically.  The nazi ideology is so powerful, so evil, that the name is all that is needed.  This is the significance of an ideology.-

Using the traditional perspective (see Part 2 for alternate views on the perspective of a political spectrum) the two major political parties in the United States are: the modern Republican party, situated on the right and the Democratic party on the left.  (How far in either direction requires an open mind and an objective outlook.  In politics, these attributes can be in short supply.  They are rarely spotted as a pair.)   For sanity’s sake we can place them like this: Communism on the extreme left and Democrats left of center.  Fascism sits on the extreme right and Republicans are right of center.

 

As the ideologies stretch further right and left the groups transform into more rigid, radical belief systems.  This is evidenced at the far end of the left with the placement of Communism and the far right with Fascism.  Depending on one’s voting record, it can be established where one sits in relation to these distinct groups.  If no voting record exists then the degree to which one shares or disagrees with the principles and policy decisions of these groups can establish placement on the spectrum.

This is a very simplistic explanation.  It is my attempt to help discover where you will be situated now that you have decided to take a seat.  This information will inform you about policies and candidates in your community.  Identification helps inform and increases understanding.  The disengaged electorate is due, in part, to a lack of understanding which leads to a lack of interest.  However, the information provided here is just the beginning.

The minimal examples given are relevant to the United States and have a great deal of historical notoriety.  However, do not be limited by an association with only major groups.  When voting, the two party system dominates but ideology is another matter.  There are literally hundreds of groups that stake out a place on the spectrum.  Some are very fringe groups that do not deserve more than a passing glance by rational people (like yourself).  Others possess appealing alternatives and subtle nuances to the major ideas of the day.  Explore what fits, what is right.  As with jeans, when they fit they fit.  When they don’t, it may be tough to describe the problem, but something just ain’t right.

Now, make way for me to throw a wrench…

All of this is not to say that the traditional political spectrum is completely sound.  It does come with a certain degree of contradiction that will be explored in Part 2.  The traditional political spectrum allows for a basic view on how much the same groups differ from one another but it does not adequately (in this writer’s most humble opinion) address the groups in the context of government as a whole.  As history has shown, both communist and fascist governments have been guilty of significant violations of individual rights.  Both are examples of a significant size, scope and role of government in the lives of citizens.  With these commonalities, how is it that these groups are classified as opposites on the traditional political spectrum?

FINALIZED IN PART 2