Friday, December 19, 2008

The War Against Ideology

I had to look this word up to make sure I wasn't missing some dark meaning behind it:

n. pl. i·de·ol·o·gies
1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.
2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

How many times over the months of the presidential campaign have you heard the complaint that candidates and voters (mainly the Republican or conservative ones) are "too ideolgical", too focused on "ideology."

I heard Michal Bloomberg the other night argue that the best candidates are not "idealogues" but those who can put together a team of folks that can get things done. He used the straw man of "garbage collection" to bolster his argument. I guess he was saying that you don't have to have any good ideas about social needs and aspirations about any part of society to have good garbage collection. You "just do it." Folks with stacks of trash during a sanitation workers strike might have a problem with that assumption.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bloomburg, many local, state, and national issues aren't as simple as trash collection - especially when dealing with national priorities and how to fund them.

If "ideology" is off limits to the electorate of this nation, then what? If "how" to do something (e.g. collect trash) is our only playing field, who exactly decides what to do, the priorities, and how its funded?

It seems to little ol' ideological me that these essentials can not be consistently and effectively carried out without a discussion and consensus on ideology. If ideology is taken off the table, only those who duped us into thinking ideology is not important will set our national agenda. This concept basically sucks.

You've heard the expression "Leaders lead people. Managers manage tasks." Obviously managers need to practice leadership, and leaders need to manage tasks - but in opposite proportions. But without having an ideology - a body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of a group, class, or culture being led - the leader will be aimless and will follow the wind. The group he's leading will, pardon the analogy, be like a ship without a rudder.

Our Scriptures have a spot-on verse to describe this: "That henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..."

Politics without ideology is much like that. You will inherit any idea, any priority, any value without having your own set of values, principles, or ideology, and acting on them when you determine who to vote for.

It seems clear that an increasing number of vocal folks in this country dislike the idea of us "sheeple" having our own ideas - especially if we express them in the polling place. Whoooo...beware the idealogue!

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