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It’s not the What, It’s the How

August 14, 2014

Imagine for a moment that there are no political parties, no ideological divides.  I know it’s difficult, but just try for a moment.

Now ask yourself this question:  Do we really disagree on what we dream of accomplishing?

Who doesn’t want a good education for their child?  Job opportunities; property rights; decent housing; clean air and water; access to health care; reduced crime; equal pay for equal work; justice that is blind, along with a color blind society; and on and on?  Who in their right–or left–mind doesn’t want to strive for these outcomes?

So where does all the social and political angst emanate from?  It’s the how.  How will we educate children?  With a top down, common core, one size fits all monolithic public education system, or educational competition and choice.  How will we grow our economy and provide job opportunities?  Through one big government spending and centrally planning everything, or by unleashing the creative and innovative potential of millions of Americans.  The same with health care–one big government program, or thousands of creative health entrepreneurs.  Do you see the pattern?

Then why don’t we all stop vilifying one another on the how and focus on the what. Why not allow millions of experiments to bloom in the 50 laboratories of these United States?  Is one side so blinded by their ideology that they can’t see the merit in what the other is trying to accomplish even though they may disagree with the method?  Is it truly constructive to label everything as the “War on _______”–fill in the blank–or “Anti-American?”  How’s that working for us?

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.  Why don’t we try to stop getting stuck on stupid, and break out the old scientific method of experimentation to put to the test our ideological hypotheses, and then measure the outcomes to see what works and what doesn’t.  I call it “pragmatic politics.”  The kind where we actually examine the consequences of our well-meaning intentions to see if how we are doing something actually achieves what we thought it would.  I know that may require some of us to change our minds based on real results, but it may be worth the effort before we completely go the way of every “late, great civilization” read about in history books and whose ruins are visited on vacation.  Can you say “Rome?” Sure you can.


Copyright 2014 Julie Schmidt

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