These days, politics is the art of one group trying to impose its beliefs on another. The art of using government force to get one’s way. The art of turning everything into a fight because that’s all there is left. The art of the unnatural.
We have President Obama and Congressional Democrats forcing us to pay a tax — that’s what it is, no two ways about it — if we don’t buy health insurance, thus forcing us to follow their wishes. We have Republicans who still want to ban same-sex marriage, thus imposing their beliefs on all of America. There are bans on big sodas, regulations that force taxi cabs to be expensive (for our own good, they say), and now we even have New York Times writers who want to draft everybody for “national service.” Not to mention all the bailouts, government loans and subsidies that direct our money toward companies we probably don’t like and whose products we’d never buy — but are forced to support anyways.
Simultaneously, we are seeing the breakdown of our economy and our government. Millions of jobless Americans are not counted as unemployed because they’ve given up looking for work entirely. Congress, although always a bit of a joke, is no longer functioning at all. And last year (and the year before) thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest.
Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, whatever — they protest because they know what is going on is against human nature. It’s something we learn as children on the elementary school playground, the first time the big bully takes our lunch money and makes us prostrate before him for mercy. It’s something we naturally recoil at as teenagers when our parents tell us to be home by nine or we’ll get the belt (again). Deep down, we all recognize that it is human nature to want to be free.
Not free to everything we want, or to run amok and harm others (for then they wouldn’t be free), but free to be the authors of our own lives. To write our novel the way we want to. To make our own choices and forge our own destinies. Our personalities, our very character as humans, wire us this way. We could no more act against our natures than granite could decide to be soft and plushy.
We need to stop forcing others to follow our personal ways. We need to start acting like adults rather than playground bullies, and that means tolerating one another. We may not have to like how other people live, we may not have to condone it, but we have to live with each other, so we have to stop turning to government to bully our neighbors into acting like us.
Imagine if we passed a law mandating that Red Sox fans had to root for the Yankees, and vice versa, so that we could all learn to live in peace and harmony. You’d get the exact opposite: New York would start lobbing missiles at Massachusetts, and we’d have another Boston Tea Party — except this time, instead of tea, it would be flaming effigies of Derek Jeter, and a few kidnapped New York City officials. (And that’s just baseball. If you ever even suggested the idea of making Oakland Raiders fans root for any other team, their combined rage would trigger the next Great California Earthquake.)