Just why should it matter how we describe our personal politics? After all, the liberal-conservative division seems to satisfy most people,. Or, is the satisfaction merely an induced haze produced by managers of public opinion?
Freeing ourselves from manipulation by elites depends on how we define ourselves. It depends on how we associate with others and organize our opinions. When the easy way restricts public opinion to simplistic ideas, we surrender our freedom to learn, to understand, and decide for ourselves. So, let’s take a new look at how we define our thoughts and express ourselves in our democracy.
In the first commentary of this series, I introduced the idea of political space to open up civic dialogue. When we choose to describe the range of possible points of view as social, economic, and environmental, each with liberal and conservative positions, eight distinct regions emerge.
Imagine a cube., with up-down, right-left, and forward-backward, or X,Y, and Z lines in space creating a three-dimensional area. We live in a world with three dimensions, now lets make a break for our minds to live in 3-D also.
So, if we begin with liberal and conservative ideas about social, economic, and environmental arenas. Four areas are on the right side, call them conservative. Do the same for the left or liberal side. We can draw each of these three directions as a line divided according to how liberal or conservative a position is.
Now, include moderate points of view, and the eight regions grow to 64 areas. Extend each of the three lines, add ULTRA at the edges, and the eight regions increase to 216 specific types of political identity.
Woah! Here we should slow down. Take a look. Decide when to just keep it simple and when to encourage diversity. usually, “eight is enough!”
It certainly helps to use the eight basic regions of our freedom to occupy space in order to provide broad identities. Sometimes, simple is good. However, as real people, life is not as simple as this. Sometimes, the full range of free thinking empowers each of the eight regions to employ three segments on each axis– moderate, conservative or liberal, and ultra-conservative or ultra-liberal.
For instance, are you a social conservative, an economic moderate, and environmentally moderate? When we begin to think about political space, our world becomes more familiar. We begin by stepping out of line, climbing up, diving down, stepping to the right or left, and moving forward or pausing to step back. We look around at others and begin to feel freedom and experience open space for the first time.
Others may feel comfortable standing in line for opinions to be prepared for them like political-junk food. They breathe deep the airs of pure ideology carefully prepared for them, inhaling the fumes of some popular-political narcotic. Ah, enjoy the haze, and ignore that man behind the curtain, Dorothy.
But, as we wake up and discover we are citizens in what we hope to be a free country. Free people do not elect to submit to prepackaged ideas designed to support some small group of elites. It matters not if they call themselves conservative or liberal, right or left, progressive or libertarian. A free people need space to breathe and to run and live.
Political space offers diversity in how we think of ourselves as citizens with opinions and real lives. Try it out. Toss away those old labels and begin to think and live in a 3-D world. Take a breath. Let the haze clear away. Now, tell me how free people think!