“Dear Josh, I’ve been reading you for years and I still have no idea what your politics truly are. It seems as though you don’t believe in anything.”
I’ll make this really simple – imagine a village. And in this village, the elders are in charge of reminding everyone about their core principles and values – the things that have preserved them for generations. But then imagine that four out of every five villagers were not elders – rather they were everyday people who were constantly changing and pushing progress further, constantly attempting to improve things rather than allow them to remain the same. Using logic and reason and discovery to make life better, one hard-won improvement at a time, dispelling superstition and rewriting the rules because modernism and changing attitudes demanded it.
This would be a successful village or society in my view.
Now every once in a while, the 80% would become too progressive – would overstep their bounds in the name of progress. Or perhaps the village would become susceptible to outside forces or invaders. It is at this point that the 20-percenter villagers, the traditionalists, would be called forward to right the ship or defend the town. Progressives and liberals could never do it, they’d be paralyzed with questions, hamstrung with doubt. It is at this moment when you’d need the wisdom of the ages, the resolve of the experienced to take over to save everyone’s lives.
And then, with the crisis averted and our way of life preserved, it would make sense for these same traditionalists to step aside and let progress take the reins once again so that we could resume moving forward.
And so it is not whether conservatives or progressives ought to rule – it is the combination of the two that would keep this society together and moving on course. Rule by the conservatives alone would mean regression and a lack of social evolution, rule by the progressives alone with no checks and balances would mean anarchy, evolution with no respect for the traditions that kept everyone on the same page.
It is only when conservatives and progressives combat each other within a shared leadership framework that a group of people can survive and thrive. Untethered rule by one extreme or the other must surely lead to ruin.
Only with both forces pressing against each other can we have a successful civilization. Prolonged hegemony of one faction over the other leads to disaster.
And so the only choice a rational citizen can make is to say that most of the time moving forward is the ideal scenario – except for those times when we need to preserve tradition and regroup. The only rational choice, then, is to be centrist with the ability to lean toward whichever side is most needed for each given era or issue.
Partisan permanence, in this scenario, makes no sense in the grand scheme. Flexibility is patriotic.