Will we choose ide­ol­ogy or democ­racy?

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint - Your Turn Guest colum­nist

Which is more im­por­tant to you? Strict ad­her­ence to a par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy or a func­tion­ing democ­racy?

Re­gard­less of our party af­fil­i­a­tion or po­lit­i­cal pref­er­ence, each of us will need to con­sider this ques­tion.

I share th­ese thoughts af­ter an­other con­tentious elec­tion, and af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump asked for and re­ceived the res­ig­na­tion of the Atty. Gen. Jeff Ses­sions.

Act­ing Atty. Gen. Matt Whi­taker, an open critic of the spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence with the 2016 elec­tion, will now be over­see­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

This is clearly a con­flict of in­ter­est, and as a re­sult, we may be head­ing to­wards a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis. I hope that this is not the case.

Re­gard­less, I think it is safe to say that most of us have be­come fa­tigued by the re­lent­less hy­per­par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal bat­tle that has been es­ca­lat­ing th­ese past sev­eral years.

It seems that, to a great ex­tent, both Repub­li­cans and Democrats in Wash­ing­ton have in­creas­ingly be­come will­ing to ex­er­cise just about any tac­tic in or­der to win the day.

The rules of the game have be­come sec­ondary. As a re­sult, the fight for po­lit­i­cal power has be­come a ze­ro­sum game.

Our pol­i­tics is no longer about what might be in the pub­lic in­ter­est. It is no longer about play­ing by the rules. It is about win­ning or los­ing, come hell or high wa­ter.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not say­ing we should be un­will­ing to stand up and fight for what we be­lieve. But when we de­fine win­ning as the other side los­ing, we will ul­ti­mately find our­selves locked in a fight to the death.

Strict ad­her­ence to a par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy means that it be­comes para­mount to win at all costs. The de­feat of op­pos­ing ide­olo­gies be­comes the only ac­cept­able out­come.

We see this to­day in our pol­i­tics from both sides. When win­ning be­comes es­sen­tial, the rules and norms of a democ­racy no longer mat­ter.

What does win­ning look like? Does win­ning mean get­ting our way? Or does win­ning mean that democ­racy is thriv­ing, even if some­times I don’t get my way? Each of us will need to con­sider th­ese ques­tions and de­cide how we will de­fine the suc­cess and health of our na­tion.

My hope is for a bet­ter pol­i­tics. My hope is for a more ro­bust dis­course on is­sues and poli­cies. My hope is that we will move to­wards a pol­i­tics that is based upon hopes and as­pi­ra­tions and not fears, lies and big­otry.

My hope is that we will re­ject the pol­i­tics of char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion and choose a pol­i­tics that seeks to ac­knowl­edge the hu­man­ity of ev­ery sin­gle per­son, and all of cre­ation, as in­fin­itely valu­able.

My hope is that we will be will­ing to em­body th­ese as­pi­ra­tions be­fore de­mand­ing them from oth­ers.

Tom Car­pen­ter, who re­cently re­tired from In­ter­na­tional Pa­per, is a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Mem­phis The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. He was a Demo­cratic can­di­date for Shelby County Com­mis­sion. He and his wife live in Col­lierville.

Tom Car­pen­ter

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