After the discussion recently had on A Liberal Mormon concerning Social Justice, I've been thinking a lot about what I call "political bundling". "Political bundling" is the practice of making a particular issue or problem inseparable from one of its potential solutions to the exclusion of all other proposed solutions. It's occurred to me that we engage in this particular practice on a regular basis from anything from the environment to abortion and everything in-between. This often quashes completing proposals that could either supplement or supplant the "fix du jour" and goes against the logical approach of "best solution wins".
This bundling has come to define political leanings rather thoroughly. If you believe in strong help for the poor, you're a bleeding-heart liberal even if you don't support government programs to accomplish this goal. If you're upset about corporate monopolies, you're somehow a total socialist even if you're trying to increase market options. If you want to reduce the number of abortions performed, you're against a woman's right to choose even if you don't support any changes in the law. The common thread between these scenarios is that the solution has now become more important than the outcome.
When someone opposes our pet solution, we automatically castigate them for opposing the outcome we perceive it will have. What happens in these scenarios is that we not only shut out solutions that may very well be better than what we current propose but also alienate potential allies in the cause we were originally fighting for. We'll spend so much time casting aspersions at our foes that could very well be working with us for the same goal, albeit from a differing angle.
Party politics has firmly embraced the bundle. It's no longer enough to subscribe to a certain set of solutions, problem solving methods or pet issues to be considered a "good" Democrat or a "good" Republican. No, you now have to buy the whole enchilada or risk internal party persecution from those seeking to achieve ideological purity of the highest order. This shuts good men and women out of the process and makes political parties little more than an internal thought police.
What we should all strive to do is realize that we probably have more in common than we might think. We all care about health care, education and fiscal responsibility, but we'll have different proposals in mind for fixing or improving any of them. When we stop dogmatically presuming we know where the other person is coming from and start finding mutually agreeable solutions, we'll be on the track towards real problem solving. Being presumptuous, dismissive and immovable will not achieve this. Once we stop talking past each other, we'll be amazed at what we start accomplishing.