Think before you vote

November 26, 2012 

Open-minded people knows that a nation is most effective when government and private industry work together to accomplish common goals (remember WWII and the auto bailout). By denying this reality and by portraying government as evil, Republicans cloak their real purpose: to further redirect the nation’s wealth to the wealthy.

Many Republicans whisper the word “conservative” as if it were the name of something holy. Calling someone a “liberal” or a “conservative” has libelous implications. It implies that with regard to many important issues, his/her mind is made in advance of deliberations. It’s important to remember that the reason we seek education beyond high school is to gain an understanding of how to weigh complex issues from every possible angle.

Keeping an open mind, evaluating matters on their merits and on the available evidence, applying critical thinking to emotionally charged controversies, and maintaining a balance between the interests of the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, minorities and majorities, captures something essential about what makes a country exceptional. Remove any of these and, like the Soviet Union, you’re faking greatness. How many of these characteristics of a great nation would the Republican Party endorse?

The nasty secret that some educated people (for sake of argument let’s call them Republicans) hide from those less fortunate is that many questions actually have incontrovertibly correct answers. In most cases those answers aren’t knowable in advance. A problem must be investigated, critically examined, logically broken down into discrete components, solutions conceptualized and tested, and decisions developed that are realistically tied to resources, time, abilities, and competing interests. Skipping any of these steps is referred to as sub-optimizing – a euphemism educated people employ to mean “we blew it.”

If, like Grover Norquist, your mind is made up prior to analyzing a specific problem, you should recuse yourself from talking about it. Your chances of hitting a “home run” solution are so close to nil that you undoubtedly have better things to do with your time – like signing a pledge. Not striving to learn to think critically is as anti-American as hacking Pentagon computers. If you don’t make the effort, what occupies your heart and mind, as good as it feels to you, is unrelated to achieving what is best for this most promising of all nations.

The writer lives in Pawleys Island.

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