OPINION – A friend of mine threw in the towel recently. She’s grown weary of trying to dialogue with libertarians. She feels they’re rude, condescending, and unwilling to work with her on political issues.
This is a common perception. Unfortunately, it also accurately describes virtually everyone who frames his or her political beliefs in strictly partisan terms. We all know individuals who refuse to have anything to do with others who wear the wrong label.
This is why labels are of so little value when it comes to actually understanding another point of view. If anything, the label is a convenient excuse to close our minds on the assumption that we already know what someone thinks.
It’s pretty tough to find common ground with people with whom we believe we cannot speak.
So, amidst all the political parties and subdivisions in America today, where should we be looking for common ground? Is there a standard that transcends the lust for political power and strengthens everyone?
There is, but because the answer has been right under our noses this whole time, it’s easy to reject it as being too simplistic. It’s what Leonard E. Read described as the “Essence of Americanism.”
If more people understood the basic premise on which this nation was founded, we’d spend a lot less time spinning our wheels over petty politics.
To illustrate Americanism’s common ground, consider this question: Which of all the freedoms given to us by the Bill of Rights is the most important?
The correct answer is that none of our rights originate in the Bill of Rights. Its sole purpose is to limit the power of the federal government so that we may freely exercise those rights. If our unalienable rights do not begin in government or in the Constitution, where do they originate?
The answer is found in the Declaration of Independence where Jefferson wrote that, “all men are…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” and the proper role of government is, “to secure these rights.” In other words, our rights to free speech, keeping and bearing arms, trial by jury, etc., exist independent of government. The Bill of Rights simply serves as an additional check on government power should it ever be used to deny or abridge those rights.
During the debate over ratification of the Constitution, many felt that there was still real danger of potential encroachment on the rights of the states and the people. This was a concern even though the powers delegated to each branch of the federal government were explicitly enumerated and checked and balanced. The Bill of Rights was added as an additional guarantee that limited federal authority in case corruption or abuse of federal power ever became an issue.
Not that it ever would, right?
The fact that many Americans now earnestly believe that their rights derive from government is a solid indicator that we no longer remember or value our heritage. While we’re fighting over petty partisan issues, the original premise on which America was founded is being forgotten.
Instead of trying to beat others over the head to convince them that they are wrong, we must focus on becoming leaders. The of leadership doesn’t require a party or a label, but it does require that we develop a degree of personal depth.
It’s not enough to argue, we must be capable of teaching and inspiring others regarding the essence of Americanism.
Read explains: “If you want to be helpful to the cause of freedom in this country, seek to become a skilled expositor. If you have worked at the philosophy of freedom and an audience isn’t forming, don’t write and ask what the matter is. Just go back and do more of your homework.”
Will we still upset some people with this approach? Absolutely.
The nature of freedom requires the willingness to prize truth above personal comfort. This means that sometimes we must be willing to speak or acknowledge difficult truths that others do not wish to hear. Doing so diplomatically is wise, but it is impossible to stand for anything without encountering real opposition.
It is much easier to remain cool and collected when we have a firm individual grasp of the subject we’re discussing. But that understanding requires the willingness to engage in independent research and study. Bumper sticker slogans aren’t enough to enlighten us and keep us on course.
This is especially true when a clear majority of Americans have lost sight of our most important common ground.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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