Let your Ideology Stand Alone

26 March 2021

Jeff McCarty

When people think about the political ideology spectrum, we generally understand it as Left, Right, and Center. We can see variations that we use to dictate differentials within each of these markers on the range. For example, you can be far-right, far-left, or left or right of center. We use these labels as indicators of what a person may believe or fill in the blanks when making assumptions about another person's viewpoint on a subject. The best way to understand this is that we are all guilty by association. If you have been found to believe an idea that is seen as right-wing, you will be known as a right-winger, and the same goes for someone who subscribes to one viewpoint of the left; they will then be seen as a left-winger on all subjects.

Real-life is not so simplistic, though. Human beings are creatures who hold complicated beliefs and ideas on complex subjects and topics. Though there may be some who can fill the mold of a stereotypical left or right-winger, most humans find themselves slipping out of that mold in some form or another. This fact seems to get lost in translation, and many people end up assuming those they meet are of one end or the other of the political ideology spectrum. People can tend to make these assumptions from simple observations. Perhaps you drive a Ford F350 or a Toyota Prius. Maybe you dress in a certain way, or you follow a particular type of diet. I think you can see where I am going here. I am even more confident that you know where I am going from here because most (if not all) of us have made these kinds of assumptions about people at least once or twice in our life.

Why do we continue to make these assumptions if they are incorrect to make in the first place? Partially because the assumptions we make about someone's position on the political ideology spectrum aren't always wrong in a holistic sense. To understand this better, we must break the concept of one's political ideology into two individual concepts. First, there is the concept of your Net Political Ideology. This concept is that holistic look at where you fall on the left, right spectrum, and most commonly, what people are assuming. If someone is guessing what another's political ideology is, they are guessing their Net Political Ideology.

What dictates a person's Net Political Ideology? This question's answer is the second concept: where you fall on the political ideology spectrum regarding a specific issue. This is where things can become a lot messier. For example, I am for a Universal Basic Income (or at least some kind of assistance to the citizens of a wealthy country), which is commonly viewed as a left wind ideal. Simultaneously, I am also for Pro Guns (in the sense that all non-felon adults who are sane can legally own a gun if they want), and I even own some myself. This, of course, is a common viewpoint that is ascribed to someone on the right. What does this mean for my place on the political ideology spectrum? Am I left-wing, right-wing, or does this make me a centrist? As we dig deeper into the individual issues relevant to society today, we can see that placing someone on one side of the political ideology spectrum because of one viewpoint makes no sense.

So, what does make sense when it comes to understanding someone's political ideologies? For me, it makes the most sense to leave behind the Net Political Ideology concept, focus on the individual issues facing humanity, and let people's ideologies stand on their own concerning the respective subject. This approach can have various benefits. Diffusing the partisan polarization that has engulfed the USA (and other places) is just one of those benefits. Another is that we may be able to focus on the issues facing humanity, and even more optimistically, we may be able to find viable solutions to those problems. These benefits all start when we let our ideologies stand on their own.

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