It’s just a small detail embedded in a larger story, but it irritates me no end.
In Florida, the NRA weighs in on Charlie Crist’s bid for the Senate race, pledging support for the governor whether or not he runs as a Republican. In the words of one of the organization’s top lobbyists, “We support where a candidate stands on our issue, based upon their record on our issue.”
Don’t get me wrong. As Republicans go, I happen to like Charlie Crist. One of the few truly bipartisan, high-profile politicians in this country, he seems to be a guy who really is thoughtful, well-informed, willing to listen to others, and courageous enough to vote his conscience—even when it might cost him political capital. We need more people like that in Congress.
What irritates me is when people narrow their political focus to one over-simplified, isolated issue and vote accordingly—whether that issue is gun rights, abortion, gay rights, or legalization of pot. People who have no sense of how their sacred cow or their pet peeve is embedded in the broader fabric of society are doing the country a disservice when they cast a vote—a vote based on ignorance and bias.
Clearly, one of the biggest reasons for the animosity and blind partisanship so prevalent in this country is that all too many Americans are one-issue voters. They hitch their wagon to some organization that does their thinking for them—be it the NRA (pro-guns), Tea Party movement (anti-tax), or their local church (anti-abortion).
If all you are is pro-this or anti-that, then you’re not a good citizen.
Thoughtful, responsible, involved Americans certainly have points of view that guide their thinking. Everyone has a philosophy. Yours may be that government should be limited in its power, or that political decisions should be made locally whenever possible, or that the market should be free of government regulation.
I may (and I do) disagree with all those positions, but I respect them. My guiding philosophy happens to be the notion that government should protect the rights of individuals. I thoroughly enjoy and often learn from people who respectfully disagree with me.
A position based on a thoughtful, nuanced view of the world takes into account many related issues, not just one. Holding such a position requires intellectual work, the courage of being uncertain about some things, and enough respect for others to keep an open mind so that beliefs don’t harden into dogma.
I’m preaching to the choir, here. Readers and contributors to this blog tend to be thoughtful, well-informed, and unlikely to be motivated by a knee-jerk reaction to a single, isolated issue.
Those who are so motivated, however, are sludge in the engine of society.