You are not a democrat, you are not a republican

With the gradual trend of people across the globe becoming more politically extreme, hundreds of millions of people across the globe have dug their feet into the sand farther and farther across their own political parties. And technology like social media platforms have continued to show people the things that keep them on their platform, which typically ends up creating a confirmation bias gone rampant.

In truth, people are much more similar than they are different. But political parties are a type of ideology that end up putting people in separate boxes so they can’t cooperate, and crucially get the important stuff done.

“You’re not a progressive or a conservative or a moderate or radical or other political noun.

You’re also not progressive or conservative or any other political adjective.

Those are words for ideas, not people. Your mind is way too rad to be locked in a noun or adjective prison.”

Tim Urban

You are not your political party

Political ideology puts you in a box. The statement “I am a democrat” or “I am an [Insert Party Here]” implies you believe what or most of what the party believes. Outlined below are the reasons why your beliefs shouldn’t stem from any political party, and also why so many people fall into this trap.

Political parties are designed to obtain and maintain control, not help populations of people

Political parties are run by people. People usually desire power. Therefore, political parties are usually used as a tool to obtain personal power. Additionally, people like to maintain their positions of power. So the expectation of any political party is to design systems that wrap around:

  1. The fundamental laws govern their party’s control
  2. What they think will help them get elected
  3. What they think will prolong them staying in a position of power over relatively short time horizons

Which means no party will have an optimization function that has the long term interests of its constituents in mind. The advantage however is that people can collectively shape the interests of politicians with these goals in mind and remove people they don’t want with their votes.

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Political platforms usually aren’t worth following

The implication from politicians being self interested means that every party will make a bunch of grand promises to get elected, without clear evidence new policies will work or accountability on follow-through (other than the threat of re-election). Policies and laws will creep up regardless of whether they are outdated. Economic policy for a president has more to do with how it makes their term work, despite policies having impacts that last much longer than their term.

If you subscribe to a political party, it inevitably becomes a part of your identity

You will have a hard time understanding the truth if you’re a democrat, or a republican, or a member of any party. Your identity becomes tied to your party or “tribe”. And feeling your identity threatened is painful. It’s like getting personally insulted about your character.

A good litmus test to see whether you tie your identity to your political affiliation is whether you have a big, negative emotional reaction when people disagree with something your party believes in. It’s a sign that your beliefs are tied to your ego instead of the truth.

The implication of picking a political party means you support all of their positions

A feeling of internal integrity is important to most people. That your beliefs are consistent. The marketing behind any political party is that their viewpoints are consistent, usually under the guise of “progressive” or “conservative beliefs. So the easiest way to create a viewpoint of the world for yourself is to believe most, if not all of your selected party’s beliefs and platforms. And likewise, assume other parties have bad policies all the time.

But the reality is messy, especially in terms of how policy should work. Good policy is party agnostic. Sometimes it makes more sense to cut federal budgets so that taxes end up going towards support instead of interest. Sometimes it makes more sense to spend on education to boost economic growth.

Conclusion: you are a rad person, and other people are rad too

Once you realize you’re a person and not a set of beliefs to subscribe to, you’ll realize everyone else is the same. Getting out of the prison of ideology is a great way to develop compassion and understanding of others, because you’ll realize we’re all similar, nuanced individuals and therefore all in this together. Likewise, when you see someone trapped in an ideological chamber, you’ll understand it’s a very human (and normal) thing that we all are victims of in some sense.

1 thought on “You are not a democrat, you are not a republican”

  1. Great post! I would like to hear how you’d approach voting, keeping this in mind. Most people have a tendency to vote based on “their party.” As you said, people care about keeping their opinion consistent. This article leads me to believe that each election should be treated with a fresh set of eyes instead of staying consistent with my prior beliefs.

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