Common Sense Politics

Sep 3

Politics and Fact

The Issue

Much of politics is based on emotion rather than fact.

Common Sense Politics

Many Americans vote based on emotion, as in, who makes them feel better. They make decisions on politicians based on who they’d like to have a beer with or who will make them feel safe. The difficulty with this kind of voting is that it often elects politicians who are there because of people’s emotions rather than for any ability to solve problems.

The next time you’re considering voting for a candidate, ask yourself what the facts are. Facts are verifiable pieces of information, we can actually research them and find they are accurate based on evidence. Based on his or her beliefs or voting record what is the politician likely to do? How will he deal with the challenges the country faces? How do his beliefs and values impact his decision making? What is the substance of the candidate beyond any emotional reaction?

As long as we keep making decisions based on emotion we’ll get candidates who pander to that part of us rather than our rational minds. Without serious consideration of the issues impacting America all we’re left with is politicians who play on our emotions rather than fix our problems. 

Sep 2

Be Nice Already

The Issue

A lot of politicians, pundits and individuals perpetuate the myth that politics has to be dirty or is a contact sport.

Common Sense Politics

Just like our interactions in daily life, we can choose to be kind and civil or disagreeable. It’s not written anywhere that politics needs to be adversarial, rude or destructive. America would benefit a lot more if voters supported candidates who are able to put their own stuff aside and work with others.

Just because people believe different things or have different perspectives doesn’t mean they can’t be nice. Perhaps the voting public would do well to elect individuals who are willing to put personal agendas aside and genuinely work with the other side. To use a common sense phrase: Be nice already. 

A lot of people reading this will likely say, “But that’s just not going to happen.” It’s precisely that perspective that keeps electing politicians who don’t know how to collaborate. 

Sep 1

Politics and the Status Quo

The Issue

Many politicians use their time in office to maintain the status quo rather than taking advantage of significant opportunities to help the American people.

Common Sense Politics

If a politician has a single-minded agenda and his or her mind is closed then very little progress can happen. Whenever America has seen progress it has come because people didn’t accept the way things were and seized the opportunity to do something different. On a whole host of issues including civil rights. the G.I. Bill or women’s right to vote, it took someone seeing the potential to build a stronger, more equitable society. 

It’s much easier to dig one’s heels in and say that things have always been a certain way than to take a chance on something different. Change can be uncomfortable but it creates an opportunity to build a better America. That can’t happen unless we vote for people who believe that things can be better for everyone.

Government Is Not the Answer

The Issue

Many politicians, individuals and groups believe that government is not the answer to America’s problems.

Common Sense Politics

Government is simply a reflection of what the people and the politicians they vote for decide is important. If the voters decide that government should not help people then they’ll likely vote in politicians who reduce the size of government or rearrange its priorities.

Societies that decide that government can be helpful create governments that are. Common sense indicates that we can design a government that either helps people, hurts people or is neutral. Voters get to decide what kind of country they want, keeping in mind that there are significant differences between policies that leave people to fend for themselves, only help a few people or help large amounts of people. The next time you’re voting for your favorite politician ask yourself some questions like the following:

  • What is the likely result of the policies supported by my favorite politician; not what they say but what they actually do?
  • What is the key to creating a strong country not just for a few but for the many and what kinds of politicians will help us get there?
  • Where is it written that government can’t be used to help people and who gets to decide who it does or doesn’t help?
  • What kinds of politicians are most likely to help the most Americans?
  • What if government is actually part of the answer?
  • Politics aside, in what ways has government helped me directly or indirectly?
  • What do we know from history happens when governments only benefit a few people or institutions?

Politics and Compromise

The Issue

You can’t negotiate with a politician who won’t budge from his or her position in order to compromise.

Common Sense Politics

There are many politicians who will not deviate from their point of view, no matter what the consequences for the country. This creates a scenario where people refuse to negotiate and stick to their position much like a small child might. To get anything done in politics one needs to negotiate and find areas where one can compromise. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Both sides agree to negotiate in good faith.
  • An issue is identified.
  • Both sides state their positions and brainstorm possible ideas for how to resolve the issue.
  • Each side gives up a little and also gets some of what it wants.

When both sides sit down and talk with each other with an eye on coming up with solutions it creates a situation where people are working together instead of in opposition. When our politicians work together it greatly increases the likelihood they’ll be able to address our problems. 

Politics and Vision

The Issue

Different politicians have a different vision for America.

Common Sense Politics

It’s important when voting to carefully examine the vision your favorite politician has for the future of the country. Currently, there are two competing visions which can be summarized like this:

  1. Personal responsibility.
  2. Communal responsibility.

Think of the kinds of country these two policies are likely to create and ask yourself whether your candidate will make it happen.

Personal responsibility distilled: 

  • Everyone responsible for his or her own success.
  • Little or no government involvement in helping people.

Communal responsibility summarized:

  • Each person is responsible for his or her success but, because we live in a country with other people, we also help each other.
  • Government can people achieve things that the private sector can’t because there is no profit motive and it draws upon the combined strength of Americans united.

Which vision appeals to you and which is most likely to help the greatest number of Americans?

Politics and Hypocrisy

The Issue

Politicians often say one thing and do another.

Common Sense Politics

Hypocrisy is rampant in politics, as in the politician who says he’s deeply religious and moral and then gets caught in a sex scandal or promotes policies that go against the teachings of his religion. As a voter, it’s important to not only listen to what politicians say but what they actually do. If your favorite politician says he (or she) is going to fight for American workers, then he needs to create policies and programs that directly help that group. If he says he’s compassionate, then he needs to prove that he is that way toward all people.

Being a hypocrite is the same as lying because the person is essentially saying whatever it takes to get elected or manipulate people. These types of behaviors translate into how people function in office and are a reflection of their morality and values. It’s up to each voter to decide whether hypocrisy matters or not and elect politicians who do what they say they’re going to do on behalf of the American people.