By Jason Thompson | United States
Political opinions are like assholes – we all have one – and for the most part, nobody wants to see or hear yours expressed if it does not validate their own preconceived notions and particular worldview. It just seems so impossible that a person on the “left” could have anything at all in common with somebody on the “right. ” Aside from tremendous failures in communication, there tends to be, and I am speaking from my own personal experiences, an apparent inability to see somebody on the other side of the supposed “spectrum” as truly human. I would go so far as to say that American political culture is diseased.
Echo chambers and political tribalism abound.
I would like to introduce myself. In articles to come, I will do my best to focus on objective reporting of facts and happenings, albeit from a libertarian standpoint, but this right here, folks, is an opinion piece. It is the story of my own personal experiences and how they have come to shape and define the beliefs and principles that set the stage for a political bildungsroman twenty-five years in the making.
I was born into a working class, mostly Irish family of eight children in the small town of Mount Airy, Maryland. My father is a roofer and a farmer from Southern Virginia. His people were old-school Southern Democrats, and my mother’s people were liberals from Maryland, Western Pennsylvania, and Missouri. This familial political history has been integral in shaping my own conceptions of identity and the principles and values I hold dear. Over the years, my principles have largely held steadfast, but the manner in which they have been expressed politically and ideologically has transformed radically.
I used to be a filthy commie. A God-damned Marxist inspired radical who raged against what I saw as a system which forced my father to grind his bones into the dirt to feed eight children and to scrape by in a world which that crushed the poor while enriching the elite. Little did I know, my father was the ultimate rebel. He was agorist in every sense of the word.
And I am his son.
I was angry. I wanted vengeance. And as the saying goes, I was certainly born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.
How could somebody work so hard and find themselves constantly scraping by just to survive? My family members were Democrats. My great grandmother’s sister was the second woman to travel to the USSR after WWII and was on an FBI blacklist during the McCarthy era. How could I not do my forefathers justice by believing what I truly thought would raise the poor out of impoverished misery? My heart was in the right place, but I was trying to build a foundation and ideological home with a hammer and a sickle.
And I wondered why the house I had built kept crashing down under the weight of objective scrutiny.
Marx, Trotsky, democratic socialism, mutualism, George Orwell – these were my political fodder. I ate it up at the expense of intellectual honesty. I blogged about it. I towed the party line. But from a young age, the seeds of entrepreneurship and personal responsibility had been planted, and those two things were crucial in my journey towards libertarianism. The election cycles of 2012 and 2016 pushed me away from the extremes and helped me find a new home in a libertarian-inspired radical center.
Going to a small liberal arts school, I find it amazing that I was not further indoctrinated into the cult of social justice and Marxist lunacy. Perhaps it was because I was surrounded by truly leftist professors – useful idiots the whole lot of them – that I raged against what I was coming to see more and more for what it truly was – rhetoric and faux outrage not truly grounded in historical or economic analysis.
I started to gravitate towards right-libertarianism and men like Larry Sharpe, Lew Rockwell, and Ron Paul. Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential run was fundamental in bringing me to what I saw as my new truth. I started delving down the rabbit hole further and further and recognized the myth of true freedom from a tyrannical state in the modern age. I could see that our society had strayed far from the spirit and text of the US Constitution.
I felt vindicated. Here was truth. I was more right than God, but man, did I still have a lot to learn. Fast forward to the 2016 election cycle and I was hooked. I was a full blown political junkie and I jumped right into the firefight.
I was an ideological soldier fighting my own personal jihad against the system of leftist professors who had lied to impressionable college kids and corporate stooges who had misled the American public. Boy did I alienate a lot of people. Vitriol and political hatred were in the air. People who I had used to agree with politically at one point, and whom I had considered good people (they were, I was being a pretentious prick), became my ideological enemies in a battle waged on social media.
Slacktivist, Supreme. That was me.
I lost a lot of friends over what I now see was inane bullshit and a failure on my own part to adequately communicate my ideas. I drove off the people most in need of hearing what I still believe is the truth.
That is when I discovered radical centrism, and began to see that libertarianism may be much more of a centrist ideology than I had presupposed and that a lot of the hatred and vitriol could be extinguished through communication and approaching the issues facing American society from an open-minded pursuit of outreach beyond our base. We accomplish this, as a team, not by abandoning our principles, but by focusing on pragmatism and effective marketing.
Somebody I was in a discussion with last night said “you can be more right than God, but if you don’t communicate effectively than you have nothing.” Our movement is so consumed with ideological infighting by keyboard warriors that the voting public cannot take us seriously. We argue incessantly over drivel the average American neither has the background nor the luxury to care about, and in doing so push ourselves into smaller and smaller sub-groups to the point that we can’t even compete with the duopoly on major issues facing ALL Americans. We’re all on the same ship piloted by a political elite which perpetuates this false dichotomy between left and right. Even the filthy internet commies.
Divide and conquer.
We are playing right into their hand. We have tightened the yoke around our own necks by failing to see each other as Americans and to effectively communicate our ideas to the wider public.
Someone once said that getting libertarians to agree and to organize coherently is like herding cats. It can’t be done.
Well, I grew up herding pigs, cows, sheep, and goats. I’m good at it.
Now I am going to try to herd cats.
I could go on and on, and my editor is probably going to grill me for writing such a long piece. But this is my story, and am I being detained?