Tony Betz

Tell us about yourself: who you are, where you're from, etc.

I've lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, and love the green, and the calm, and the depth of this beautiful place. I'm 26 at the moment and 2 years out of college, currently working a job that I'm not particularly passionate about, but that's helping me to quash the last of my student loans so that I can do something that's inherently motivating without fear of shirking my responsibilities. I grew up in an incredibly socially conservative religious household and community, and due to being home-schooled and debilitatingly sheltered, wasn't exposed to other ways of being and thinking until my late teens. I quickly realized that there was something seriously wrong with my programming, which began a slow and difficult but rewarding journey of reformatting my belief system and individual beliefs, aligning them with my evolving values and perception of reality. I try to be open-minded and open-hearted, and believe in intellectual honesty, civility, mutual respect, personal and social responsibility, and that we can turn this story we're telling together into something more beautiful and less dystopic if we reach out and try.

What does being a "Centrist" mean to you, and why did you get involved?

Not succumbing to group think or embracing the negative aspects of tribalism, thinking for oneself and assuming the best motives in others, being respectful, listening, being open to change in ones mind and the world, recognizing that compromise is a necessary feature of living in a large community, understanding that extremes are natural, and acceptable, and ultimately necessary, but that they are only sustainable when moderated by the center and their opposing force.

What is a policy issue you are passionate about and why?

Global cooperation, with policies like free trade and a universal carbon tax. I believe that the free trade is essential in creating global prosperity and stability, and that it is also necessary if we are going to take other steps such as moderating our effect on our larger natural ecosystem with tools like a global carbon tax.

How do you think we can unite our country and fix our politics?

By engaging with those we disagree with, but not in the way that is exemplified by most mainstream right and left media outlets or the Facebook feeds of too many Americans, which is to mock, or express disgust, or demonize. We need to understand that change comes from within, especially at the extremes, and that it will take folks in the center who can look at everyone with empathy, and not assume the worst in their motives, and bridge the divide between or two political corners by demonstrating that they have the best interests of all in mind, and that it is possible to expand ones circle of care and bring about change through work with as opposed to uniting against.

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