OPINION | Commoners and Political Inclinations: When Words Fail Us by Mike McCabe

OPINION | Commoners and Political Inclinations: When Words Fail Us by Mike McCabe



By Mike McCabe
(via The Sunday Sentinel, Strategic Knowledge Partner)

Politically speaking, I am a commoner. I call myself that for three reasons.
My Identity – A Commoner:
I am the son of dairy farmers. I don’t know what else a farm boy could be but a commoner. It’s who I am.
What I want:
My second reason has to do with what I want. I want more common sense in government. I want more searching for common ground, and less dividing and conquering people who could and should be united. And I want concern for the common good to be far less uncommon.
Political Vocabulary:
The third reason is that the old political vocabulary is failing us. Terms like liberal and conservative no longer mean what they once meant. They don’t even mean what today’s dictionaries say they mean. The word liberal comes from the same root as liberty. It means freedom. People who call themselves conservative think they are the pro-liberty ones, and consider modern-day liberals to be anti-freedom. The word conservative shares the same root as conserve and conservation. People who consider themselves liberals think they are pro-conservation and can’t see how today’s conservatives are for conserving anything. These labels would be comical if they weren’t so politically debilitating.
When people ask if I am conservative or liberal, my honest answer is that I am a mutt. Like most all normal people. Only in the political world do people claim to be purebreds . . . 100% liberal or 100% conservative. Normal people are mutts, conservative about some things, liberal about some, and middle of the road about the rest.
We’ve all acquired the habit of thinking and talking about politics horizontally. Who’s left and who’s right. What policies are liberal and which ones are conservative. This horizontal thinking no longer serves any useful purpose. It only serves to divide people who actually have a great deal in common.
Instead of dwelling on who is to the right and who is on the left, think about who’s on top and who’s at the bottom. Not just who holds the most wealth and who is struggling to make ends meet, but also who has the most political power and who has the least clout, and whose voices are loudest and whose aren’t being heard. Think vertically and it becomes clear who the royals of American politics are and who are the commoners.
A magical thing happens when we stop thinking horizontally and think vertically instead. We begin to see a large number of people who are thought to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum as potential allies. We are dividing people who could and should be united just by the way we think and talk about politics.
Given how messed up politics is at the moment, not too many among us can feel good about calling ourselves Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives. We deserve better and need something new. We can start by coming up with a political vocabulary suitable to our times.
This mutt starts by counting himself among the commoners.



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