Here's one aspect of the independent ethos that guides how I think about politics, and what I think about:
Whatever I'm not allowed to talk about, that's what I want to talk about. Whatever topic is off limits, that's the topic I want to discuss. Whatever I'm not allowed to say, I'm not necessarily going to spit it, but I am going to chew on it long and hard and think about why I'm not allowed to say it.
And if there's not a good reason – or worse – there's a pathological social or political taboo keeping me from saying it, a defense mechanism to protect some kind of corruption: Then I'm going to say it after I've thought about it clearly enough for long enough, and I'm going to say it loud.
Whoever or whatever you're not allowed to criticize in this country, that's exactly what my eyes are drawn to, and I look closely at that and pay attention to what I'm seeing.
It's risky to think that way.
Slaughtering sacred cows tends to make the faithful very angry. Breaking thought taboos can get you in big trouble with others. But if something is rotten in the state of Denmark, it's a risk not to say anything about it too. So there's risk either way. You might as well take the risk that you're able to live with yourself for taking. I can only live with myself if I say what I think is right, and say it as clearly as possible, and say it loud enough to be heard.
But a word of warning:
If you do choose to slaughter sacred cows, you better have your head screwed on straight. People aren't going to like it. So it helps to make them laugh while you're doing it. You also better have a really good point to make, and you better make it really well. The more clearly you can explain your idea, the better.
And there is no point in piling on unnecessarily inflammatory points or language because you're already inflaming some passions by challenging someone's faith. The lightest possible touch you can use and still get your point across is probably the level of intensity you want to go with.
Be as delicate as possible, because a deft precision is absolutely necessary when discussing challenging ideas about complex issues. And politics and society are vastly complex issues, and most questions don't have easy or simple answers.
People who come into a comment thread discussion about politics with the sledge hammer of pristine ideological simplicity and start hammering away are incredibly annoying to try to talk with because it becomes evident very quickly just how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
And dear sweet smiling cheeks of Buddha and the holy smoke of every whole burnt offering sacrifice Moses ever made: Please, dear God, please don't write an entire comment nearly the length of this article you just read in one, single, giant, wall-of-text paragraph. That is just – listen, no one reads those. They see that and instantly go: "Nope, nope. I'm out!"
By the way...
You may not know it, but IVN is accepting submissions for your op-eds to publish on this website. The best one will even be promoted to IVN's Facebook Page with over half a million subscribers. And with all the likes and shares the best posts get, they end up with a user visibility and reach into the millions on Facebook.
So if you want to submit a thoughtful, interesting, well-written article about politics that isn't BS, that has credible sources to back up your points, that is easy to read, and ready to publish without fixing too many typos and grammatical errors (the editor at this publication does not suffer fools and clowns and has even had to straighten me out once or twice over the years)...
Just scroll up to the top of the IVN webpage when your article is ready and click on the link in the navigation bar that says "Write" with the icon of a pencil in a square, and follow the steps.