As many readers will concur, in general, American voters are not particularly discerning. Studies have been done detailing how questionable candidates have been elected to office simply because they’re glib, charismatic, or physically attractive. If a candidate looks good and sounds good, most voters will defer to that candidate, no matter how fundamentally insubstantial he or she may be.
Obviously, this has been a recipe for disaster, not just in individual cases, but as a long-term practice.
Exceptions to the widespread superficial assessment of political candidates have been instances in which significant numbers of voters have suffered due to the policies of a particular elected official or political party. Usually, this suffering has been economic in nature, but not always. In these cases, voters have tended to gravitate toward the candidate who promises to ameliorate that suffering. We witnessed this in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan and in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump.
When President Trump discussed “draining the swamp” of Beltway establishment hacks, his supporters cheered, but few realize how enormous an undertaking this actually is. It is one that cannot be accomplished by one president alone, no matter how sincere or dedicated that president may be toward accomplishing it.
Voters themselves have the potential to gain much more ground in this area, but they will have to employ discernment to do so.
When I speak of discernment, I am not referring to the spiritual gift of discernment discussed within the church. In practical terms, discernment is not some esoteric ability that some possess and some do not. I am speaking about employing the process of coming to logical, useful conclusions based on an aggregate of information (some of which may be obscure to some degree). This, of course, involves a measure of critical thinking.
That’s the rub, because critical thinking has been discouraged among the populace, whether through the social engineering bent that’s been adopted by our educational institutions, media, or our political leaders themselves.
As I have indicated with increasing frequency, it has become quite clear that the majority of our Republican lawmakers – even many who claim to be conservatives – are nothing but big-government progressives. In general, congressional Republicans have taken on the role of playing the impotent foil to leftist Democrats who are railroading us toward a hard-line socialist state.
Why have Republican lawmakers taken on this role? Because the Washington establishment naturally fears that if a significant number of voters came to an understanding of the myth of our two-party system as it currently functions and the actual dynamic of Beltway politics, they might storm Washington, drag lawmakers out to the National Mall and burn them in a pile with the intention of starting over with a Congress that is not beholden to special interests or socialist ideology.
One potential instance of discernment among voters could be a very simple and fundamental one: the realization that progressivism isn’t “progressive” at all. In fact, it is actually retrogressive. Modern democracies and republics were, for the most part, instituted based upon the novel Enlightenment idea that populations could govern themselves, rather than being ruled by monarchs and oligarchs as they’d been for centuries. Progressivism takes all of that back in advancing a paradigm of government wherein populations are once again ruled by oligarchs. In America, progressives have overcome the hurdle of the party system by insinuating their operatives into both parties, yet maintaining the illusion that voters have a choice between competing ideologies.
Here’s another: Every so often, we read about a prominent political couple wherein one member is purportedly a staunch conservative and the other is a fire-breathing liberal. This is highly dubious considering the disparity of core beliefs between the two, something akin to a Baptist or Catholic marrying a practicing Satanist. Such marriages would necessitate the parties being so monumentally shallow that their stated core beliefs meant very little to them, or that the arrangements are simply political theater. Here, the “conservative” is an abject poser, and both parties’ political allegiances are rooted in progressivism.
Take House Speaker Paul Ryan, for example. He’s sold himself as a conservative, but Ryan’s actions, from the time he became speaker until the present, have indicated an individual who is either an ideological progressive, or someone who has become wholly corrupted by the establishment and simply seeks to maintain his place in the sun.
Ryan is married to Janna Ryan, a far-left liberal lawyer and trust fund baby who comes from a traditionally Democratic family. Janna Ryan could arguably be characterized as a left-wing activist. A K Street corporate lobbyist before marrying Ryan, she is described in numerous publications as “a liberal, left-wing progressive, anti-constitutional, big-government George Soros supporter who voted for Barack Hussein Obama twice.” Her interests reportedly include women’s rights and social justice. This has not been widely discussed in the press, other than through the superficial media lens; the Ryans are just another power couple with divergent political beliefs who’ve somehow managed to make their marriage work.
Well, that might play with the undiscerning, but given Ryan’s deportment to date, it ought to raise a whole lot of questions among those seeking discernment concerning this speaker. These “mixed marriages” are but one of many tell-tale clues that such individuals may not be accurately or faithfully representing their political alignment.
This being the case, how might voters become more discerning?
That one is quite simple: If voters come to the realization that meticulously scrutinizing their prospective elected officials is an imperative, many will opt to engage their brains, dig a little deeper and take the steps necessary to really learn about political candidates and officeholders.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com