By Gary Doan
Far be it from us to decry personal spiritual fervor, but for some, the moral inambiguity implicit in deviation from self-defined religious principles has bled into nearly all worldly belief systems as well.
Religious dogma often mandates strict adherence to it’s comprehensive belief structure for adherents, at least as a matter of acceptable belief rather than action. Given that the authority such structures draw credence from is God Himself, it makes sense that any deviation from “the Word” is deviation from perfection’s decree.
Unfortunately, such devotion seems to be relatively common for some within political movements as well. During the 2012 Presidential campaign, I was often called a “Paulbot”, and in a way I took it as a label of pride. Of course, it was meant to imply that his followers would jump in with nearly identical talking points and counterpoints, and it was meant as an insult denoting blind faith exhibited by a bunch of clones substituting dogma for individual thought. Although I could name a few disagreements I had with Ron (primarily but not exclusively in matters of degree), it was true that I knew far too many members of the rEVOLution who could not, which seemed dangerous.
This cult-like following wasn’t exclusive to the elder Paul in modern politics, by any means. Bernie Sanders had the same sort of following, and was able to use it to attempt and redefine socialism as a philosophy of fairness and equality, when mandating equality is by definition unfair and socialism is, by experience, a repeated recipe for failure. There are political figures that inspire such devotion who don’t even have a coherent set of beliefs, whose followers just believe the latest Trump tweet regardless of inherent contradictions, or read whatever they choose into a vague but eloquent Obama speech. There are “no-leader” political ideologies which rigidly apply the N.A.P. to every parcel of life, or books like the Bible, Quran, or The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money applied politically by groups like SJWs, social conservatives, jihadists, or Keynesians.
The trick here, I think, is to view healthy identification with political groupings as less of an adherence to a rigid belief structure, and more as a tendency; leaning towards a perfect rather than dogmatically subscribing to it’s entirety. For instance, I often arrive at some of the same conclusions as the N.A.P. and support negative rights as superior to- and incompatible with- positive rights, but I do think there should be laws aimed at things like parental neglect and responsibility. Although I do believe taxation is theft (or at very least coercion), that doesn’t mean I believe in zero taxation, because there are things worse than theft and practical reasons why the practice simply cannot end completely. If there’s a conflict between neoconservatives and non-interventionists, it’s an understatement to say that more often than not I choose peace… but that doesn’t mean I oppose every sanction on tyrannical dictators.
In the words of Ed Koch (former mayor of New York, not one of the brothers)… “If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.”
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