To me, ideologies are strange things. You might look at them as a way of thinking that a particular group of people has in common—the bond uniting them and informs their course of action. You could also look at ideologies as a way of thinking that groups of fanatics have in common—coloring their perspective and preventing them from seeing anything than what they have been told to be true.
Ideologies were past fall 2006 elections. It was the first time in 27 years that I actually took an interest in the political process. Unfortunately, for much too long, I was the characteristic young person that was apathetic and didn’t realize the immense honor, privilege and power of voting. I was especially interested in the way that people would toss around labels: Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, right and left. It really wasn’t that surprising considering that we, human beings, thrive on categorizing everything that we encounter. For anything to make sense, it needs a label and a description. Those above mentioned labels and others were certainly not an exception.
For the record, I consider myself a moderate although leaning slightly conservative. There, I did it! I labeled myself. In all seriousness, I pride myself on the fact that I try to listen to what people say. I absorb what they say, analyze it according to what I know, believe and what makes sense, and then issue my interpretation. The issues and above all the proposals on the ballot are sometime difficult to interpret. Nonetheless, human beings make their very best efforts.
If you’re interested in labels, I’ll toss out another one: sheep. Sheep are what I call people that always vote straight Republican, Democrat or whatever their affiliation is. Sheep are the people that think Republicans are right and Democrats are liberals out to ruin the country or vice versa. Sheep are people who vote based on the party and not so much on the person’s qualification or ability to do their job. Sheep are loyal foot soldiers that follow group ideology without ever questioning. Questioned be damned. Nothing must disturb the status quo.
This critique is not directed against any one group of people except sheep in general. I have seen sheep that are Republican, Democrats, liberals, conservatives and right wing or left. It was amusing listening to sheep debate with other sheep or with open-minded people because they were right and everybody else was wrong.
While I do have my positions and stick by them, I’m also willing to hear out other people. I believe that everybody has something worth hearing and give them the benefit of the doubt to do so. I can remember times when I might not have agreed with somebody before hearing them and then switching over to their side. Am I a traitor for doing so? I don’t think so. A valid position worth believing is precisely that. Whatever my party affiliation or ideology is always subject to change because I know that I do not have all the answers. I think that once people can admit that no one ideology holds all the answers and that the other side might possibly be able to make better sense than they can will sheep cease to exist. Remember that sheep are creatures that are led by a man with a long curved walking stick. I don’t know about any of you but I am happy guiding myself. I don’t need anybody’s walking stick to tell me what I believe.