The Common Good

An Emergent Politics Primer: Part One

I once asked a fellow Minnesotan why he voted for former professional wrestler, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, for governor in 1998. He said, "It was my way of giving the finger to the Democrats and the Republicans."

There's a growing sense among emergents that the polarization in U.S. politics isn't real-it's a script written by the two political parties and the U.S. media. They wrote this script and they perpetuate it because they have the most to gain from its perpetuation. The unnuanced maps showing states as "red" or "blue" disregards the fact that in a red state, as many as 49 percent of the voters are blue, and vice versa.

But even more important, it ignores what we all know to be true: each one of us is a complex mélange of viewpoints and opinions, and very few of us line up with every plank in a party's platform. Being that postmodern Christians are acutely aware of micronarratives and justifiably incredulous toward metanarratives, they are particularly suspicious of the spokespersons of left and right who often begin their pufferies with "Americans believe . . ." But having two sides makes for good television; have six nuanced positions does not.

From a theoretical point of view, both the good and the bad of our democracy in its present state seem to be driven by the concept of unalienable, individual human rights. Dubbed as believable as "witches and unicorns" by the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, the modern version of individual rights was invented by John Locke (1632

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