The Politics of Government Without Ideology

by February 26th, 2010 - Politics »

In debate over hotly contested legislation in the last few years, politicians have more and more spewed forth noble, heartwarming, selfless pleas to the effect of: “Now is not the time for ideology. Government must do what works and abandon what does not work.”

In my attempts to imagine a government actually taking actions without ideological foundation, I was made to giggle, roll my eyes, fart, and ultimately suffer a mild seizure.

In reality, this is simply a very blunt instance of a political ploy that has been used by politicians of all parties to paint themselves as the practical civil servant, masking their own ideology by being first to target their opposition as crazy ideologues.

Comically, the only possible way that the government might function without ideology would be to cleanse all the doors of perception in Washington D.C. and govern by stream of consciousness, opening the floodgates of our politicians’ minds to participating in group gropings on the senate floor and performing long-form poetry to rival even the most fiercely fielded filibuster.

Of course, whether these actions would be deemed to “work” or “not work” for America is really a matter of one’s ideology or philosophy. What works for one person might not for another due to the different systems of value people use in their lives.

While still a faulty concept, pragmatism or the practice of taking actions that are validated by favorable outcomes, is a much better practice for individuals making their own personal decisions than it is for a central authority. To endlessly debatable success or failure, this is what we all essentially attempt whether we are stumbling through a life of stream of consciousness or dedicated to a life of religious or devoted ideology.

Even in the scope of individual pragmatism, pleasures not only change, but may wane to the point of becoming pain and invariably cause a maze of effects that are not as simple as black and white, but rather a splintering of possibly undesirable outcomes the origin of which become obscured and difficult to calculate or improve.

But we all try and in most cases directly bare the success and failure of our own risks. Unfortunately, history and common sense are littered with pragmatic attempts that directly harm another person.

While anarchy is as nebulous a concept as pragmatism, in the absence of government, lawlessness allows the greatest freedom of all individuals to pursue their own ideology. That is, of course, until another individual or group of individuals restricts this freedom through violence or the void of “anarchy” is filled by a group with enough brute force to ostensibly form their own government and impose their own ideology.

These threats would logically give rise to the desire of a government whose ideology dictates that it exists solely to protect the freedoms of its individual citizens from threats both domestic and foreign with as little action as necessary so as not to become a threat itself to that which it is designed to protect.

This philosophy of government, which has taken the name of libertarianism, is still a difficult balancing act involving arguments as to how small the government can be while still fulfilling its function. However, these arguments are still informed by the clear principle of individual liberty.

A philosophy of government that desires anything more puts an icing on our cake that is neither necessary nor necessarily to the taste of anyone besides the chef in power and those that share his palate.

Ironically, someone who holds a clear libertarian principle is often looked at by mainstream media and politics as a “crazy ideologue”; while viewing as preferably normal those politicians who make their decisions on the vague changing winds of the majority, the support and/or money of lobbyists, or from unsupportable, narrow ideologies that require religious leaps of faith.

The moniker of “crazy ideologue” would be better applied to this group that would make decisions following a philosophy of government that lacks any traceable progression of logical arguments resulting in a generic belief that government exists to do whatever the person in the driver’s seat desires it to do.

The next time you hear a politician say something like: “Now is not the time for ideology. Government must do what works and abandon what does not work.” Don’t you believe it! That politician is lying to someone for some reason that is all a part of his or her ideology.

Instead, move past that statement completely and simply question their policies. Don’t ask whether they will work, but whether their effects are just for all citizens. That is…after all…the sole validation of government.

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