Has the desperate desire and need to win become the most unhealthy element of politics in our time?
It’s an interesting question to ponder and your initial response may be a hard “no”, considering the repeated handing out of participation trophies along with the “let’s not keep track of the score” culture that’s seemingly being created and enhanced. To dig further on that premise, students are also now able to receive full credit for an incorrect answer to a math problem so long as they show how they came to that wrong conclusion. And we’ve gone on to create safe spaces for hurt feelings and give days off work and school when elections don’t go a preferred way. On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a culture of increasing competition and winning; it sounds more like a culture of enablers.
And you wouldn’t be wrong to think such a thing. But what if I could use the above examples to defend my belief that, to a certain extent, we are living in a time where winning is the most important aspect in politics and everything else is secondary?
All of the above examples are ones that entail a leftist bent to them. In these examples, we see the left becoming so entrenched in their desire for their point of view to be the only one that they will literally create a room for someone to hide away so they don’t have to listen to or be in the same vicinity of the hateful, bigoted right-wing personality speaking on their college campus. By doing this, they’re crushing both intellectual diversity as well as the student’s ability to potentially learn a new perspective. They’re doing whatever they can to protect and keep their views on diversity as the only valid ones. This certainly seems to be a win-at-any-cost approach.
This problem isn’t exclusive to just the left, though. All you have to do is look back at the 2016 election in order to see that the right is just as bad. Republicans and conservatives were willing to compromise on so many of the principles that they once considered bedrock, in the name of winning the election. And, they’re continuing to defend President Trump for things they would have vehemently opposed President Obama on. They’re doing this because winning political points and elections has become more important than possessing actual values and principles.
Previously, I’ve written about libertarians standing against the kind of hypocrisy both the left and the right display, and this article goes right along with that but with a bit of a different twist. I want to challenge libertarians to not become like the two main sides of the political spectrum by becoming so incensed on winning or scoring political points in our favor that we forget or rather neglect what it is we believe in.
We, of course, should want libertarians and our viewpoints to win and gain traction. We want more libertarians in government so that government will shrink. We should have a strong desire for the political ideology and philosophy we believe in to have a much stronger voice than it currently does. And, I firmly believe, all of this can be accomplished. But, what I don’t want is for it to be accomplished through “win by any means necessary” tactics. Secondly, once it is accomplished, we must become wary of becoming so entrenched within the current political climate that the values and principles that got us there in the first place are neglected.
This particular challenge may be a bit premature and not as necessary at the moment considering how very few libertarian voices we have in elected positions. But I would much rather provide a warning now and be ahead of the game as opposed to being thrown to the fire with no warning whatsoever.
It’s also extremely easy for us to sit back and observe as the hypocritical right and left fold under the pressure of the system and abandon all of the values and principles they once had. It’ll be much harder for us when we’re actually in the same position.
Don’t get me wrong. I want so badly to be in that position; to have to be faced with the opportunity between winning some political points or standing by what we believe in is a much better position for us than to have no voice at all. I just hope, when we are in that position, we will make the right choice. Even if that choice means temporarily losing some ground, or what the current system simply calls losing. Because what the system often fails to see is that temporary setbacks are sometimes needed when trying to win the big picture and, I believe, in the long run, abiding by our principles will eventually lead to the winning we need, not just the winning we desperately want right away.
So right now, despite the fact we have very few voices, I hope we can still determine that we’re not going to participate in perhaps the most unhealthy element of politics. And how we do that starts with a simple premise: Refuse to compromise on our bedrock principles while not stifling the thoughts and opinions of those who have different ones.
* Mark Metz lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has worked at a residential home for 7-12 year old behaviorally challenged boys for four years. He is a former conservative who has converted to libertarianism, and he is now looking to advance the ideas of liberty and freedom.