On August 4th, the Cato Institute will participating in a debate on Libertarianism vs. Conservatism between its interns and those from the Heritage Foundation.

Here is an excerpt from the preamble:

However, the differences between the two political philosophies are at least as significant as the similarities. On matters such as national security and foreign policy, surveillance, immigration, criminal justice, drugs, gay rights, and the role of religion and morality in public policy, libertarians and conservatives often clash with one another. Despite whatever similarities they may have, libertarianism and conservatism are substantially different political philosophies—so which one provides better answers to today’s most important political questions?

We invite you to an election-year debate about the two philosophies and their associated policy implications. Interns from the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation will go head-to-head to answer the question: Is libertarianism or conservatism the superior political philosophy?

While I can appreciate that there is a difference between them, I wonder if it’s that great of an idea to encourage adherence to and division along ideological lines. No single philosophy has the answers to every issue, and it’s a mistake to cast that illusion an as example for young people to follow.

Rather, it is a much better idea to encourage individual thought that is as critical toward one’s own ideas as those of the other sides in this country that is as intellectually and philosophically diverse as it is in ethnicity.

I used to be one of those faithful ideological adherents, eager for debate. But those kinds of debates are unconstructive, and nothing more than two sides talking past one another instead of both listening and contributing to a conversation about dealing with reality in a way that leaves everyone better off. It was not until the developments of the financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession that I became aware of severe weaknesses in the economic arguments of my chosen adhered philosophy – inflation must be kept low and we must have a strong currency. When that policy preference injures others as well as ourselves, steadfast adherents are completely blind to it, because they are positive everyone is better off with low inflation and refuse to entertain other points of view in a fashion like the Spanish Inquisition.

After much soul searching and questioning, I can now see many of the contradictions in that ideology to which I had previously been blind. I can also see how utterly stupid and blind I had been in a way that in some measure contributed to my own misery and that of others.  I shall not ever again blindly accept blanket arguments made by anyone who claims to have all of the answers, because it just simply is not so – the real answer to everything is – it depends.

The amazing thing is that since I have chosen my own path to reform, I have never felt so productive, alive and free. I don’t have to be against illegal immigration because others in my flock are. I don’t have to subscribe to literally bankrupt economic theory. I don’t have to believe someone else’s lies because everyone else does. And to life’s nagging questions, I can develop my own answers that I find much more satisfying and logically consistent, and at least in my view, a lot more real. I am confident enough in my own skin that I do not feel the need for my conclusions to be validated by people who choose to let others do the thinking for them; and I think the world would be a much better place if we had less tribalism more individual critical thinking.

Anyway, that is my two cents.