Obviously, “The Human Party” is not a real political party. Real parties are named after political ideologies (Democratic, Republican, Libertarian), specific issues (The Green Party), or historical abstractions (Tea Party, Constitution Party, Whig Party). Regardless of the name, parties provide a big tent for rallying support for particular political issues and opposition to others. Too often, though, they also become a hindrance to actual engagement with different people. It is always easier to see our own group as perfectly sensible and right about everything and other groups as, necessarily, confused, ignorant or evil than it is too listen carefully to an opposing side and admit we may have some things wrong. And it is always easier to group ourselves with people who look like us, think like us, come from the same place as us and have shared life experiences with us than to try to bridge the gap in backgrounds, cultures and experiences that separate us from people who are different. But the difficulty should not stop us from trying. After all, as humans, we are all far more alike than different. We all have the same basic human needs-food, clothing, shelter, medical care-and the same basic human desires-to feel loved, safe, included, understood. We should be able to agree on more things than not.

I grew up Republican. I come from a very rural area in a very red state, so I naturally grew up thinking the Republican Party was the party of common sense, hard work and freedom (freedom it was willing to die to defend). And it was the party of Christians (obviously). Democrats where the party of ridiculous fools who just couldn’t seem to grasp the most basic, simple logic, the party that (for some inexplicable reason) hated personal freedom, and the party that believed in taking what hard working people have rightfully earned and giving it to lazy socialists who just want to live off others. The Democratic Party was the party in favor of letting Communist, revolutionaries and terrorists roll over America unopposed (through either incompetency or sheer malice towards freedom), and also, bizarrely, the party that hated Christians and basic morality. It was only later (once I had gotten to know some actual Democrats) that I realized everything about that picture, on both sides, was a drastic oversimplification, a complete misunderstanding, or just plain partisan demonization of different opinions. Change is hard, and usually takes a long time. Sometimes, and in some areas, I listened to others and changed my views quickly. In other areas that change took much longer and came with more resistance. When you never really listen to other people’s positions in their own words (not as they are characterized by their opponents), you build up such a massive, intricate and interconnected system of misconceptions, misunderstandings and miscarachterizations, the whole towering edifice has to be torn down brick by brick and reassembled in a different shape before you can even get a clear picture of what it actually looks like.

Once that new structure is in place, you realize that the people you thought were fools are actually, very often, basing their position on basic principles that you actually agree with, and may (or may not) even be following better logic than your own in trying to apply those principles. Those principles are usually rooted in our basic humanity and our shared concerns, even though they are usually buried under so much antagonism, misunderstanding and partisanship that we may not even be able to identify what those principles are on our own side. We have gotten so used to our partisan stereotypes, they have become more important than the issues themselves.

I don’t have the answers to all our political problems. Or to half of our political problems. But I think I understand why Republicans take the positions they do (for the most part) and what they think they are trying to accomplish by pursuing the political paths they do (most of the time). That was my political path for more than the last decade, so I at least understand what I thought was going on. Alternatively, I have spent a lot of time listening to Democrats explain their positions, reading the writings of Democrats who have been working for generations on problems (some of which I was not even aware were problems) in ways I never considered, and, most importantly, making a wide range of friends who are different from me in every possible way (including politics) and listening to what they think and why. I have left the Republican Party now to be an Independent. The party has changed and I have changed and it just doesn’t represent me anymore (except some of its remaining moderate-liberal members). I guess the point of this (this page and this blog) is that I really think both sides are badly misunderstanding some of what the other side is arguing for, and overtime (in some cases) have lost track of what they were arguing for themselves in the first place. The posts on here explain my take on what people on both sides actually think they are doing and why they are doing it, and try to highlight the common ground in our shared humanity that lies buried beneath the rubble. If we can find that, and make that the center of our political action, then maybe we can actually start working together again to fix some things. If we can’t, then things will just keep getting worse.

One last thing. This blog is visually boring. And most of the posts on it will, in all likelihood, be mind-numbingly boring. That is because politics, at its very best, should be boring. It should grind on endlessly and un-dramatically in the background of our lives. It is all demographics, statistics, accounting, legal jargon and endless, endless, endless amounts of boring paperwork and math. There should be nothing entertaining about politics, and if it is working right, nothing to get anyone excited or angry about. When it is exciting, it is either because we are doing it wrong or because it has been going very wrong and we are starting to get something right. It is also complicated and messy. If you can reduce a political position (your own or someone else’s) to a meme or a witty slogan, then you either don’t understand it or it so completely vague that it is useless. We should want politics to be boring, and we should be willing to suffer a little boredom ourselves in order to make it so. If we can’t handle that, then we simply do not have the patience or attention span necessary for self-government. So please, come visit my boring site, read my boring posts, write a boring response, and lets all try to make politics boring again.