Some things are not for everyone. I started playing soccer for the first time in my life this summer and let me tell you, kicking a ball is not my thing. But that’s okay, I understand my limitations. I’m not going to go around calling myself a soccer player, but I can still have fun out there.
In my last article, I wrote about how it is okay to be an ideologue. The one thing I neglected to mention, however, is that not everyone should be an ideologue. It is a simple concept, but often lost on those who tend to dig their heels into the ground regarding their views.
Just ask your generic American conservative if he supports capitalism and free markets. You’ll get a resounding, “Yes,” but upon further questioning, you’ll soon find out that his support is limited. “I support capitalism, but we can’t have totally free markets.” It sounds reasonable and pragmatic, but it demonstrates a lack of understanding of what free markets actually are. So to ideologically support capitalism and decry socialism while simultaneously supporting institutions like state-supplied police, roads, military, currency, regulation, etc. shows a basic misunderstanding of both capitalism and socialism.
In other words, if you don’t understand something, an ideological opinion of it is worthless. If you can’t defend a view, it’s not worth contending that it is correct.
Take your average voter and question why they support their favorite candidate. If you get a wishy-washy response, they probably don’t quite know exactly what they’re supporting. I did this in the fall at a campaign rally for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf (who went on to win the election). Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker, so I asked attendees if and why they supported Clinton for President of the United States.
By just asking them a few very simple questions, it was clear that they had no idea why they supported Clinton. Some even admitted it, but that didn’t stop them from fully supporting her.
Sometimes it’s okay to admit that you’re not sure of something. In fact, you should admit your ignorance whenever you are ignorant. There’s no shame in that—in reality, it shows strength and character since it demonstrates humility and honesty with oneself. Take it as a signal that you need to explore and learn some more. Problems arise when you don’t understand something but have a hard-line opinion of it anyway.