My New Year’s resolution for 2011 will be to unravel the evolutionary mysteries of the strange creatures that inhabit the American political landscape. Let me explain.
We divide Americans into conservatives and liberals depending upon their individual political ideology with respect to issue-based litmus tests. But none of those things makes an awful lot of sense to me. I mean I’m not a liberal or a conservative in the current parlance. I’m a liberal in the sense that I think there should be some parliamentarian limits on a ruler’s authority, albeit precious little, because, with the exception of a few blood-thirsty tyrants, the abuse of authority is more likely to come from many little men with little minds and a little bit of power than a few big men with educated minds and a lot of power: the swaggering policeman in the rearview mirror is apt to be more imperious than the cultured and refined philosopher-king with the jeweled crown. I’m a conservative in the sense that I think human history and human nature is so chaotic that traditional values, customs, and institutions are more likely, than not, sine qua non to providing the stability that civilized life requires. Something tells me that’s light-years away from the liberalism of President Obama or the conservative outlook of Glen Beck.
Moreover, however, I’m also an optimist. Darwinian logic informs me those societies that adopt cultural and intellectual attributes conducive to political order, economic stability, a rigidly defined social structure, and environmental sustainability are favored by natural selection over ones that produce broken homes, dysfunctional institutions, scattered families, apathetic citizenries, narcissistic adults, and neurotic children. (Not to mention adults that act like neurotic children and children that act like narcissistic adults).
I therefore make it my New Year’s resolution in 2011 to find out what makes American liberals and conservatives tick amongst their tempest-tossed sea of tautologies, sophistries, and donnybrooks.