Wednesday, June 13, 2007
As we start easing (or in some cases, rushing) into the political season of presidential campaigning, we're going to hear a lot of rhetoric, mostly wind but not all. There’s going to be promises made, finger pointing, moral preening, and fail-proof solutions offered up to remedy the many problems facing this country. It's therefore vital to listen for the ideas that animate and give direction to each of the candidates. Those ideas, if implemented, will lead this nation in one direction or another, which in turn, will further us down a path resulting in different destinations.
Ideas matter. Intentions are easy to come by and easy to espouse. Listen for the underlying beliefs and ideas. They are not always obvious. Criticism and cynicism, posing as wisdom, pass too often as the staple of ideas in today’s political discourse. And we have been, and will be, getting bucket loads of both.
Ideas are valuable only when they are based in what’s true, not simply on what’s desired. The idea of right and wrong makes sense only when there is the accompanying truth that certain things really are right and certain things really are wrong… moral truth that rises above our own calculations, if you would. When you veer from that principle, too often you end up with the approach to policy of “the ends justifying the means.” Most agree that isn't a philosophy to embrace, yet too often that is, in effect, the course advocated by many.
The men and women that founded this nation had a world view in which there were certain bedrock truths regarding man, his nature, and how he was created to live (yes,by in large, they believed in a Creator). And from those truths flowed certain ideas regarding the inalienable rights of human beings. Any form of government hoping to succeed had to respect those ideas that flowed from those absolute truths. For it is based upon those truths and ideas that governments confer rights to its citizens. Drifting away from that understanding is like having the "bright" idea to navigate a ship at sea without the aid of accurate charts, knowledge of ocean currents, and the North Star. The voyage might start out well enough, but the chances of your ship reaching its desired destination would be almost nil. You'd end up on a shore no one (or at least most) would have desired.
A lot of rhetoric will be offered up by these candidates. Most of it will have the short term goal of saying what people want to hear. But what are the ideas supporting that rhetoric? What are the logical implications and long term directions for this country of the things they're each advocating? What North Star and guiding principles inform their ideas?