I hosted another Community Conversations television program the other night, the same night as the republican candidates debate with Tump in absentia. I wish I could say that was a permanent condition, but I digress. Our show was a town-hall type, where we introduce a topic and talk about it with folks from our local community where my role was more provocateur than moderator.
One of the audience members introduced the notion that certain troubles today stem from a shift from common sense to that of ideology, one of the many brilliant things I heard that night. Hoping to stir things up, I applied that notion to the Bill of Rights and asked our audience if the amendments have shifted from their common-sense origins to being more rooted in ideology. I no sooner had the question out of my mouth when an audience member insisted they were strictly common-sense ideals, cutting off any attempt on my part to elaborate.
My question was too vague and should have been clarified, so here I am.
It’s been incubating in my brain since, getting reduced to its semantics. Common sense is truly a remarkable compound implying its premise is one that is shared. It’s common sense to not yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater, to take care of your own house and yard, or to lock away a loaded handgun.
Ideology is different. Wikipedia defines it as “a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one’s beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations. An ideology is a comprehensive normative vision that is followed by people, governments, or other groups that is considered the correct way by the majority of the population, as argued in several philosophical tendencies.”
Wow. There’s a lot to digest here, not the least of which are the value terms used in the definition, like normative and correct. And while the word majority is used in describing its scope, it is not the same as common. And so what. It’s not like this is the Constitution, it’s just Wikipedia.
But the Constitution doesn’t speak to the idea of say, a majority defense. It establishes a cause for its purpose within its preamble, a common defense, the general welfare, to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” not simply to the normative and to the correct. It does that for all the People.
I’ll reframe the question. Have interpretations of the Bill of Rights shifted from what was once framed in common sense to ideologies? Is political correctness an ideology? Is public lands? How about gun control?
Liberal university students’ ideology squelch the academic process. Professors are afraid to push envelopes, speak honestly, frankly to issues that require a trip beyond comfort zones and coddling. Gone is the marketplace of ideas, critical thinking, common sense and in their place sensitivities to micro expressions, reputations, and the search for the next infraction. No one wants to speak up when the listening is expressly for a social media lynching.
Public lands become landfills for sectionals and big screen projector TVs too easy to dump on the outskirts of town, at least around here. Common sense would dictate an inherent stewardship of the land, but when the public fails on so many levels there is the default convenient expectation that the government will intervene regardless the common sense of reserved powers. And when their power flexes beyond the fences and agreements, public land becomes an entitlement.
And then there’s the Second Amendment. It’s my opinion that certain beliefs, goals, expectations and motivations in regards to the right to bear arms transcend even ideological prerogatives, right up there with theological convictions. And the same can be said about the fervor of those who oppose guns, period. Common sense, the very rhetoric used by the current executive office, is lost on the not-so-extreme divisions and no one is talking to each other.
I can’t help but think that this is where we’re going astray, getting away from the common sense impetus of the Constitution, instead shoring up our own ideologies in our own self-righteousness and zeal where hate is much easier to come by than public discourse during a TV show.