There is no natural connection between being pro-business and anti-environment. Nor natural connection between embracing gender fluidity and advocating for a more generous social welfare system. Nor between being a fiscal conservative and an evangelical Christian. These political orientations are correlated in the US, not because they “naturally” go together but because the American system of government favors a two-party system, which is turn favors broad coalitions. This is not the case in European countries with strong multi-party traditions, where you find much greater mixing of political views than in the US.

Being mindful of costs, trade-offs, and the possibility of unintended consequences is not incompatible with advocating for bold policy initiatives. Being thoughtful doesn’t imply timidity or even incrementalism. One can appreciate the complexity of it all and still push for decisive action. One can think like a scientist but act like a doctor. Like scientists, medical doctors appreciate their own limitations. Yet they are tasked with making important decisions – possibly life-and-death decisions – despite not knowing for sure they’ve got it right.  Doctors need to be willing to act boldly, willing to do nothing, and willing to change their minds. Because the health of the patient is what’s important – not a foolish consistency with past opinions. See Think like a Scientist, Act like a Doctor for more on this great analogy.

Ideologues don’t have a Plan B. They have convictions and if they get their way but it doesn’t work out as planned, they are more likely to blame scapegoats than admit error. The economy collapses? Gotta be those profiteers or the legacy of systemic whatever. Give it more time, root out the evil within and without and above all be patient. God help us if the medical profession were taken over by ideologues. The patient is dead? Well, that’s because the nurses didn’t try harder.

So what would be an example of thinking outside the line? Name the goals and the problems, and propose various fixes. Be mindful of uncertainty, open to new information and prepared to change course. Whatever solutions you come up with, make sure there’s an escape hatch.

So I’m pro-business and all for fiscal constraint. The profit-motive carries no moral taint for me - go for it! Be selfish! I don’t care what’s in your heart-of-hearts. Do you have racist thoughts deep down inside? Ok. Just be kind, treat everyone as individuals, and make sure there’s equal opportunity for all. And let’s go for universal healthcare, paid parental leave, lifelong skill upgrades, affordable housing, and a solid safety net. Let’s be bold, incremental, careful and willing to admit when we’re wrong.