There are many losers in today’s political atmosphere, but due to all the writing and debate that’s being pushed out because of it, one of the main winners would have to be the field of rhetoric and its importance in politics. The recent elections in the United States and Europe all challenged our way of thinking and what exactly we put our weight in.
The philosophies of political parties will almost extend itself to political group-think. More often than not, nurture breeds our nature and the fundamental schools of thought that govern our ways of thinking more often than not end up controlling our lives. These ultimately manifest itself in party core beliefs, and more often than not, it will polarize independents to swearing allegiance to party lines.
I am one of the most politically conservative people you’ll meet, a convert from liberalism at that. I am a theist, a Christian, a Catholic revert. What matters most to me religious liberty, self-determination, the structure in society, and the family as its cornerstone. Yet, it fascinates me when I find others who do not agree with these sentiments, mostly due to my affiliation with a certain political ideology. It fascinates me, even more, when a liberal gives his or her reasons for disagreeing with me in the first place.
My gut instinct for understanding liberal philosophy is to read what they write, take notes on what they say, appropriate their language so you can argue with them. This would obviously require some research.
A conservative interested in the dialogue and vocabulary of liberals often found himself in a foreign land, and one of these realms that struck a chord with me is feminism. Yes, this is the world that is the bane of the right, and most certainly the main pain and talking point whilst arguing with liberals. Yet, most conservatives have no firm understanding of what it means to be a feminist, nor have a great understanding of its history. This is because of the feminist groupthink that turns conservatives off, not its philosophy. The basic definition of feminism is: women are to be treated the same as men, their femininity to be embraced. Feminists are those that push for that advocacy. This school of thought has certainly evolved over time, but when you read about the history of it, there are hardly any contradictions between that and Catholic orthodox teaching (again, the groupthink, not so much).
This is because of the feminist groupthink that turns conservatives off, not its philosophy. The basic definition of feminism is: women are to be treated the same as men, their femininity to be embraced. Feminists are those that push for that advocacy. This school of thought has certainly evolved over time, but when you read on the history of Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and the early women’s suffragists and first-wave feminists, you can’t help but agree with almost everything they fought for – and it certainly went beyond just equal treatment.
I see time and time again that in the realm of political debate and discourse, we are so often immersed in the details, employing ad hominem and strawman arguments against the opposition. Yet this tactic of rhetoric is so basic. The fundamental practice utilized by the early Greek sophists in rhetoric – dissoi logoi – challenges debaters to look at your opposition’s arguments in order to formulate your own and counter them. You will never prove a point by shying away from the argument.
It’s difficult for liberals and conservatives to find common ground on something, and we are certainly miles away in agreeing with everything political. Yet, in order for us to see the forest and not the trees, we will need to work together.
So, I propose a starting point:
While I am fascinated by the dialogue of liberals, I will, and will always, remain conservative, simply because there are certain truths that society will continue to undermine and diminish. The politically active masses will continue to debate human rights, yet the dialogue on human rights cannot begin without respect for the greatest human right of all – the dignity of life, from the moment of conception to natural death. A wise man used to tell me: human rights begin when human lives begin — one cannot exercise rights if he or she is not alive to exercise them in the first place. With this in mind, I invite all my allies that believe in this fundamental statement, regardless of your beliefs, race, background, or identity, to join me in this fight for the defense of the most important human right of all.
The forest that is in need of conservation is the value of human life and the dignity of the human person. In a country and a world that continuously undermines that fundamental right, we will need all the help we can get in. There has certainly been progressed from both sides, but for the some of us that do not want to come to its defense, we will never build the valued ‘culture of life’ that many of us strive for.