It’s extremely hard to tell if your politics are flawed. This is because we always think our politics are right. The problem with your political compass is not just whether you feel your politics are right (since people who disagree with you feel that their politics are right), so you have to be able to back up your point of view.
Here’s one test: Use your words. If you feel that you are right, but can’t explain your politics…or state why you feel the way you do…in words, there’s probably something wrong with your politics (or your reasoning that leads you to your political beliefs).
“Well, what is the difference between burning the Qu’ran and protesting a Mosque?”
“You can’t see any difference between them?”
“Yes, of course. They are different actions.”
“Then you just answered your own question.”
“What I wanted to know was what, to you, is the critical difference in regards to the first amendment?”
“You just answered your own question.”
“I don’t think I did.”
“You did. You just answered your own Question.”
“Law doesn’t exist to change people’s actions.”
“Really? Well, what about the speed limit…doesn’t that exist to curtail speeding?”
“Look…if you can’t understand it, then I’m not going to explain it to you.”
A lot of times we’re talking to people whom we feel are missing the point…you’ve still got to be able to explain it to them. Take your time…slow down…be patient with the other person. If the person doesn’t get it, try to explain it a different way. If you can’t explain it in a different way, then perhaps you don’t have as strong a grasp on the issue as you thought. Repeating yourself doesn’t show that you understand the issues; being able to explain the issue to someone who doesn’t understand does.
“The right to bear arms is a natural right.”
“I’m not how that could be…there are no guns in nature.”
“By ‘natural’ I mean ‘rights that every person should have’.”
If you have to start making up definitions of words and phrases to defend your politics, then you either don’t have a firm grasp of the language you’re speaking or the words your using don’t actually defend your point. Sometimes semantics aren’t important, but in defending your politics they are. Don’t redefine words to make them fit your argument; find words that do the job for you. If you can’t find the words, perhaps you’re arguing a point that can’t be proven with logic.
“Obama is a bad president because he lies.”
“Well, I think that depends on the type of lies he told.”
“No. If you’re a liar your a bad person.”
This is subtler, but it’s an example of binary thinking. Things are either one thing or another and there is no room for fuzzy logic. In the example above there are two types of people: liars and not-liars, but we can look to great minds of the past to break open the binary paradigm. Augustine classified nine different types of lies of varying degrees of “badness” one type (a “jocose” lie) that isn’t a lie at all! We are not living in a cut-and-dry world, and only the most limited of minds processes things in the binary. If you’re argument is “it’s either one thing or the other”, you’re limiting your political understanding by limiting your thinking. Think outside the box! What’s the third option…and the fourth (and the fifth)?
So for lack of an objective test of your politics, use your words. Have a conversation about politics with someone who holds an opposing views. If you can defend your views in a logical, cohesive manner then you’re likely on a good track. You don’t need to convince them; just have them understand your point of view. If you can’t explain why you hold the views you do, hold them suspect. You don’t necessarily need to give them up, but question them. You’ll eventually either be able to more fully understand your own views or necessitate a paradigm shift. Either way, you’re on your way to political greatness!