After some years of hashing it out, I finally understand my political position. Though I currently call myself more-or-less Libertarian, I think if I were to form my own political party, it would be called “Checks and Balances”. No, not in the sense of writing checks and balancing the budget (though I’m sure there’s some wisdom to that), but in the sense of checking headlong rushes and keeping the balance.
See, the problem is, I’m a very open-minded person. I don’t know how many issues on which I took position X, only to have someone with opinion Y come over and point out the inherent flaws in X, and the virtues of Y. Then I could see exactly what they were saying—but I also still saw the problems with Y and the great reasons I chose X in the first place.
This happened over and again, to the point that I began to realize a dismal truth: No system of government is perfect. In fact, none are even anywhere close.
Upon close and open examination, most social and political ideals work wonderfully in theory. However, none work in practice, for without fail, they rely on humans. Some rely on the justness of humans in the government. Ha. Some rely on the fairness of humans with money. Lol. Some rely on the goodness of humans en masse. Okay, enough.
In the end, these ideals are counting on human beings not exploiting the system. Not gonna happen, folks. No system is exploitation-proof.
But these ideas do have merit, and we have to be doing something—even if it’s nothing. (Yes, anarchy is another system that would work very nicely if all humans were good and kind.)
So, how to choose? I come back to Checks and Balances. It seems to me that these ideas of government can work well for a while, then they overbalance and tip over in one direction or another. Right now, my country seems to be tilting dangerously towards—
Freedom sacrificed on the altar of safety
A penchant for meddling militaristically in the business of other countries
Poorly executed socialism
Choking regulations that drag small businesses to the ground
Inanely thick bureaucracy
And so I, of the Checks and Balances party, put my back against this falling wall and shove, crying “Freedom! Non-intervention! Free markets! Simplicity!” and so on. But I see, too, the dangers of my own positions. They also can become too strong, in the hands of those inevitable system-exploiters. So if all begins to overbalance in the direction I’ve been pushing, I’ll run around to the other side, crying “Whoa now, I didn’t mean all that!” (I know this is kind of how our party system is supposed to work, but can we all agree that it’s kind of failing?)
Like running around with a broomstick balanced on your hand—back a few steps, back, back, AH, run forward, whoa, step to the side—this idea is very wobbly, to be sure. But I think if enough people would think in checks and balances, we might be able to keep such a precarious thing as a great country standing a little longer than otherwise.
Hmmm… Checks and Balances… open mindedness… awareness and recalculation… surely I can find a way to exploit that!