The problem with politically aligning with either term, ‘right’ (conservative) or ‘left’ (liberal), is that, once aligned, no one has to actually come out and say what it is they really believe. All they do is check a box, push a button, and the organization takes care of the rest. Meaning all one has to do is express or confirm their affiliation, and people find it completely acceptable.
Because you fall into a category, and wear that category like a badge—and have your category bros and sisses back you up—you never need divulge the full ideology that comprises your position. But subjective categories don’t exist in vacuums. Such categories that human beings fall into, they fall into because of choice. And choices rest on, and are predicated upon, beliefs.
Your political affiliation becomes not quite a ‘dog whistle’, but more of a useful generalization to you and a muddled one to society. With far-reaching consequences. Say you were trying to diagnose an illness, or trying to find the understanding of what that illness is, why you feel a certain way (which we can assume would lead to healing). Someone asks you, “What’s wrong? Where do you feel pain?” and you respond, “I’m positive I have gastroenteritis.” What they’re likely going to say, or likely going to be thinking, anyway, is, “Have you talked to a doctor about it?” And if you keep responding, nodding and shaking your head simultaneously with palsy, “I’m positive I have gastroenteritis. I’m positive I have gastroenteritis. I just have gastroenteritis. That’s all. I know it,” and never actually discover more about the reality of what comprises it, no common ground between you and what medicine can offer is going to be possible, and people (and physicians) are going to leave you alone and not want to discuss it with you. There will be no understanding. By you or by anyone involved in the conversation.
You will have chosen a side, and everyone else who hasn’t will not agree with you on the subject and fall silent.
Or if you answer: “Well, it kind of hurts here,” and vaguely wave at your stomach, and then go to a doctor and he or she is forced to base a diagnosis and treatment on that, they wouldn’t be a very good doctor. And you wouldn’t be a very good patient. Or, at least, you’re someone who doesn’t really want to heal. You’re more inclined to hold onto your pain than reveal the causes.
And that doctor has more important things to be doing in a few minutes. People who aren’t overly devoted to you aren’t going to wait around long if you’re not going to say meaningful things when they ask you meaningful questions.
“Hey, person, how are you feeling?”
“It has to be gastroenteritis. I just know it.”
“Did you ever go and get it fixed?”
“Do you feel it’s hindering your ability to make money and have meaningful interactions with others and provide, emotionally and financially, for those who depend on you?”
“Okay, good luck with that.”
“Look, will you shut up already?”
Your internal pain, ultimately, is then going to start affecting other people—your family, the people you work with, people you interact with over the course of a day or week—alongside yourself.
If you want healing, if you want a meaningful expression of ideas and beliefs, if you want to get to the heart of cause—because ideologies are a problem in the world—you have to say exactly what it is you’re feeling, and what you know about it.
I’m Republican. Conservative. I’m a Democrat. I’m part of this organization. The problem with it all, in my opinion, is that you’re choosing a side, and there can never be a single side without the opposite. You play the game, and you get caught up in all the characteristics of sports fanaticism: chauvinism, wolfpack mentality, transference of identity, personal anguish at the prospect of loss, opponent resentment, recrimination, psychological warfare, pranking, and so on.
Fortunately, a plurality of parties have popped up in global political systems, because people have realized that two just aren’t fair and there need to be more. You see it in parliaments modeled on free, modern, Western governments all over the world.
But not in America.
So, why wouldn’t people want to divulge their ideology?
Don’t know. But some reasons I can think of are shame, cowardice, fear. Lack of a sense of individual identity. A figurative voice with which to speak up. Righteousness. Genuine ignorance.
Because, in America, it pays more to fall in line, to choose a category, and then let your chosen political party do the work for you. Or, at least, have you believe it is. You stay more sheepish that way. Without doing anything to actualize balance and understanding between humans who are in the same pasture as you, and have more of a common enemy than they realize.
Hint: it’s the shepherd.