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  • Jerome Kocher

#4. Common Ground. Common Cause.

Midst the partisan divide and national disunity and distrust, the question looms: Where do we go from here?

How do we not self destruct and rend our societal fabric in two, not to mention poisoning our personal relationships. It begins with acknowledging that our language has been usurped. The words we use have been hijacked and twisted. Anti-racist used to be clear. Now it means hatred and reverse racism towards someone you disagree with.

But we can find common ground. This starts with examining a few basics.

First, the Far Left and Extreme Right will never have unity. Their only commonality is a totalitarian view that people are not capable of responsibly controlling their own lives. An overreaching government must do that for them. That is a shared ideology by both extremes. The Left is Marxist, the Right is Fascist making them both Totalitarian, where the government controls your life: your morals, your economics, your thoughts, your movement, and your loyalty.

Second, our two party system has become a sclerotic, arthritic, and self cannibalizing dinosaur. One could argue that a giant political meteor struck our nation and darkened its skies. The Great Disruptor, resulting in the last death throttles of a dying partisan system. Behind the seemingly different agendas, it may be true what many have long prophesied. Underneath the money and corporate interests, there is no difference between the Democrat or Republican parties. It is a swamp. You go along to get along. And the needs of the American people are not the real interests of the two parties. They want Power. They do not want to “empower” Americans.

Third, that leaves us with the age old vision of a Middle Way. Can Liberals and Conservatives have a common cause? To start, we can turn towards our own Western tradition embedded in the Enlightenment. At its core was the elevation of individual rights. Rousseau championed what he called the Natural Rights of “life, liberty and property.” Jefferson adopted and adapted that to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” placing it as the foundation stone of American Independence. The middle word, liberty, became the crest or banner for this movement. This was not totally new. The rebirth of the Renaissance sought to distance itself from an overreaching authoritarian Church. The creation of Medieval universities taught the Liberal Arts.

Liberté. Freedom. Same word. Different languages. The Conservative rallying cry of ‘Freedom’ and the classic Liberal profession of ‘Liberty’ are siblings. Their common cause meets at Free Speech. Both sides should champion healthy debate. Both sides should condemn the blacklisting and banning of minority opinions. Condemn violence against dissent. Be horrified at the erasing of history. Be disgusted with the sanitizing of language to shelter wounded feelings.

The First Amendment is enshrined to protect expression, especially by minority viewpoints, not to pamper your feelings of being offended. You have a right to your feelings. But you do not have a Right to have them protected. The First Amendment is not to shield you from being offended. On the contrary.

Both Liberals and Conservatives should have common cause against cancel culture when everyone self-censors out of fear of saying one wrong word, when something said or done decades ago, even as a teenager, is used to destroy one’s life. When no one can make a mistake out of fear of permanent social exile. When one is fired for one’s political thoughts. When children or peers are encouraged to rat out parents and friends like modern day Stasi. When publisher’s blacklist you. When Social Media monopolies no longer provide platforms for thought, but are really biased publishers who edit or delete anyone “they” disagree with, as if they have been anointed the arbiters of truth. Both Liberals and Conservatives should be horrified at this. Does one want to guard against vile and violent speech. Yes. But the answer is not less speech. It’s more speech.

Freedom of Speech is common ground, common cause, between Liberal and Conservative values. Not between Left and Right, Democrat or Republican, but between true classic Liberalism and Conservative ideals.

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