I’m going to be completely transparent here, and to provide an insight into how I have evolved over the past decade. I believe I speak for many who are reading this, especially among those who have been particularly dismayed by the dysmorphic confluence of culture and politics in the last ten years. In many ways, it’s far easier to cling to our (sometimes irrational) past ideologies (far more intransigent than mere ideals) than it is to admit that we may have been wrong (less than right). Especially in light of new information and continued cultural, technological, and political change, we are challenged daily to reconsider our beliefs and ideals. Evolution is our responsibility, if not our natural mandate.
This 2010 versus 2020 analysis, in the framework of a #RadicalCentrist paradigm, seeks honesty in the face of hysteria: increasing sustainability in the face of demagoguery.
Here, I’ll admit to what I’ve been wrong about and what I believe I’m still right about.
Things I believe in 2020 that I believed in 2010:
1. The Constitution matters: As the guiding codification of our rights and responsibilities as citizens of the greatest nation on Earth in history, we have a burden to prove to the world that democracy and liberty and capitalism work for the betterment of mankind.
2. America has a responsibility to protect those among us—in America and around the world—who are disadvantaged, underrepresented, and denied their human rights: America is the, “shining city on a hill,” so ordained by our Creator, that is the bulwark of liberty. We are compelled to protect life and freedom—to spread democracy and to promote opportunity throughout the universe.
3. Jesus provides the best example of how we should live our lives within a community: Whether you believe Jesus to be a prophet, a God, or simply a great man, Jesus gives us a guide on how we should live: love the weak, heal the sick, forgive the sinners, and challenge the tyrants.
4. Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Bush
Things I no longer believe in 2020 that I believed in 2010:
1. Anybody that wants a gun should have one: I believe there are people who should not have unfettered access to firearms. I don’t think that a common sense, consistent approach to who we allow to have guns is incongruent with the intent of the framers who ratified 2A. Although I also believe that there may be political reasons that resistors should have the right to protect themselves from tyrannical oppressors, I further believe that if those political beliefs are driven by hatred or psychosis, that such protections are counterproductive and dangerous.
2. Every person born in America is endowed with equal opportunity: I believe there are certain opportunities that are denied—if not by statute, then by institutional impediments—to people of color, people of poverty, and people of disability. Education, economic opportunity, and cultural influence are warped by where somebody is born, the color of their skin, and the breadth of role models available to them. The evils of Jim Crow have been subsumed by institutions and it will take conscious, sustained, affirmative action to overcome these headwinds.
3. Climate change is a hoax: While I continue to believe that the politics of climate change—as an agent for economic revolution—is far more offensive than the science of climate change, I know that the science of climate change is real and verifiable. Few of the radical political reactions to climate change are any more than power grabs; the real challenge is to provide a sustainable set of policies for the protection of property and humanity in the face of otherwise catastrophic effects upon humanity.
4. Calvin Coolidge, Barry Goldwater, Bill Clinton
Things I now believe in 2020 that I didn’t believe in 2010:
1. Love undergirds every positive ideal: If an ideal is supported by or supports some force other than love, it is suspect. This means that a belief in, “ends justifying means,” even if it leads to some positive outcomes, is invalid. This also means that, “my personal self-interest protects your self-interest,” falls short of reifying Christian sacrifice.
2. A successful businessperson has the best set of skills to lead the government: I used to denigrate “career politicians” for being disconnected from “the real world.” I now understand that a commitment to statecraft is a skill that stands equal to entrepreneurship in the skillset necessary to navigate government, policy, and leadership.
3. Hamilton > Jefferson: I’ve been torn, since high school, between the protections of human liberty that Jefferson championed and the protection of economic liberty that Hamilton championed. I know that without Hamilton, the banking system that supported the spread of America’s democratic system would never have taken form, that America would never have succeeded. I know that without Jefferson (despite all of his personal contradictions), the philosophical system of democracy that provides the model for liberty and human rights would never have concretized. I know that, just as we need Democrats to temper Republicans today, we’ve always needed Federalists to temper Democratic-Republicans. Our system may not be perfect, but as long as we continue to have Hamiltons and Jeffersons in our midst, we will continue to be the greatest nation on Earth.
4. The Pope, FDR, Jimmy Carter