Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. Francisco d’Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
I love this quote because it timeless and pertains to all behavior, especially political behavior.
All political analysis should start with the basic idea that if there seems to be a contradiction between a stated policy and the reality of what is happening, then the premise of the purported policy or the rhetoric of the politician should be questioned. I do not pretend to have all the answers. Rather, I may suggest, in subsequent blogs, what the actual premises may be so that the contradiction no longer exists.
I firmly believe this analysis needs to be done by all of us as it pertains to our own political ideas, parties and leaders. In today’s world, we opt to listen to people and pundits that agree with us rather than challenge our views. This behavior will inevitably lead to weak intellectual thought and shallow policy decisions.
If we build a tower in a vacuum protecting it from all of nature’s harshest elements, the tower will inevitably be fragile. It is only by testing our structures against the fiercest forces that we can be confident in its strength and integrity. The same is true as it pertains to our political and economic positions.
Although this approach may seem obvious, it was truly driven into me when I was at Northwestern University. I remember taking a political literature course, not because I wanted to take the course, but because it fit my schedule and I needed that credit. Going to the bookstore to get the reading material I quickly realized I made a huge mistake. The reading materials weighed several pounds. We had to read more than a thousand pages of Marxist and Communist propaganda, from Marx and Engels to Trotsky and Lenin. What was worse is that the heavy reading load was followed in my very small class (other students must have known more about this class than I did), with our European professor working hard to engage us in discussion insisting that these were smart men. If I stopped my story at this point, you would undoubtedly believe that this was just another example of a liberal teacher working to indoctrinate his students.
At this point in my life, I had taken a multi-year break in college working in the wildlife conservation field before returning to finish my degree. I was several years older than my peers. As a result, I didn’t have much of a social life, so I completed all of the assigned readings. It occurred to me that if this was the only political doctrine you were ever taught, it would be easy to be lured into the attractive nature of the communist argument. But this is when the course took a turn and went from my most hated class to my favorite class. After 6 weeks of intense communist teachings, our professor switched to libertarian authors. I read my first science fiction book by Robert Heinlein, a noted libertarian author together with many other libertarian authors. Then we engaged in true polemic discussions comparing the opposing political philosophies. This class taught me a lot about truly analyzing a position. Seeing the flaws in the arguments of both sides. Ultimately this served me well when I later worked toward my law degree. To be honest, I am not sure if my professor was a socialist, libertarian or neither. At the end of the quarter, our professor asked us all to make a recommendation for a book to be added to his list for the next quarter. I suggested Atlas Shrugged and, sure enough, that was the book added to his next class. After reading all of the socialist, communist and Marxist polemics for the first half of the quarter, his poor students would have to read Rand’s 1,168 page novel. I am only partially sorry to those students as it is a great novel and should be read by every member of Congress and the Executive Branch.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, too many teachers promote only their political narrative. This is a disservice to our youth and will promote weak critical thought. This makes our children easier prey for the less than noble motives of the ruling political class, particularly in the inner cities where the education system is abysmal. It is my hope and mission to challenge this downward spiral and shine a light on the nefarious policies designed to shift power away from the individual and to the state.
It is with this approach that I will take on a specific political topic twice a month to challenge our thinking and to check the purported premises of our political leaders. The soul of each blog will be written from a place that truly loves the ideas and philosophy that are at the heart of this beautiful country.