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More on the arbitrariness of politics…

Taken from a post I made at another site:

In my mind intelligence and even wisdom have little quarter in politics. I know vastly smarter and even wiser people than me who have bought into one party or another’s dogma and will not be dissuaded by even their lying eyes. Really it is a matter of religion, tribalism, or “Red Sox versus Yankees” and it cares not about truth, logic, or reality. In fact it buttresses itself against those very things.

Unfortunately this statement is probably equally true in regards to myself. I can only credit myself with being aware of the affliction.

We live in “The Matrix” of our own making, though certainly not without the help of those who also understand the game and wish to manipulate for their own gain. It is a hard won illusion, one that defines who we are, and is as painful to rid as the memories of those abused as children. We think that it is based on truth, but it is really just what we want to believe.

That said, the truth exists, and in any choice one path is better than the other, but the support shown for one path over another should not to be assumed to be based on anything less human than the other. That is, even the people who are right, probably aren’t basing their choice on any better basis than the other. Most of what we believe in is simply the arbitrary luck of what side we decided to ally with at a young age, not a better argument – the idea that we would have chosen differently given different input is largely an illusion.


Undoubtedly many reading this are thinking, “No, this isn’t me! I’m not biased. I take everything into account. I’m independent.” I would argue that this is the same issue as why something like 80% of drivers think they are “above average” (myself included at one time, though not so much anymore). We all believe it’s the other guy who is “irrational”. The truth is it’s not that the other guy isn’t irrational and wrong, it’s just that you (I, whoever) are irrational and right. That is, we were lucky to have chosen the side that was right, but that decision was based on arbitrary and irrational factors as much as anything else.

That’s not to say we don’t make any rational political decisions, but I believe it is far more rare than we would like to believe and that the people who are capable of it on a regular basis (which of course, I’d like to believe I am, but is probably delusional as well) make up a much smaller number than thought. The vast majority of the people who walk this earth are making their political judgment based not on argument, but essentially on “club membership”.

Now you may want to say, “We Republicans don’t do that!” or “We Democrats don’t do that!” but think how silly that is. By some magic miracle all the grounded people drifted to one side? Does that really fit any other model of human interaction you’ve seen? It’s a pleasant illusion, particularly if you consider yourself on the “good” side (which we all do – curious coincidence right?), but ultimately it really is all just contextual self-delusion. To think otherwise though, is to doubt oneself, and of course no one wants that (me included).

It is just such a cognitive dissonance that allows us to torture one set of humans, but then nearly immediately disclaim the evil of another doing it. Or to object to the use of the word retard by one, but accept it as humor by another (and to note, this isn’t just talking heads, read the blog commentaries and you’ll see a very curious dividing line in the responses of the “masses”)(“masses” meaning the little guys like you and me).

Now you may be tempted, as I am, to try to split the difference here and say, “True, but it afflicts the other side more than my side.” Certainly I am hard pressed not to thing that Republicans are “insane” as opposed to Democrats being merely “touched”, but again this is undoubtedly self-protective bull shit. We are ultimately all humans with all the foibles that implies. While we’d like to believe we make decisions on a rational basis, all of us, that is “all” as in “you and me”, are far more emotionally wired than we’d ever care to admit. Subsequently we are subject to the whims of that animal part of our psyche, even when we’re trying to desperately convince ourselves that we’re the only rational one on this God forsaken planet.

In short, you, I, we are the problem.

Have I convinced you? Does this seem threatening?

Worry not, you and I will move on and return to our old ways in short order. After all, it’s only human.


See also:

So, if we know we suffer from it, how do we deal with it (other than saying, “I’m superior – I don’t suffer from it!”)???

3 comments to More on the arbitrariness of politics…

  • The problem with this country is BOTH the Democrats and Republicans. Anyone who seriously thinks that one side isn’t corrupt or slaves to Corporate America hasn’t done an adequate job of paying attention. To the Republicans: The GW administration will go down in History as one of the worst administrations. They eroded your constitutional rights, expanded the power of the wealthy elite, invaded countries under false pretenses, destroyed diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, and spent money like it was going out of style. To the Democrats: Obama is a dud. He promised much and has turned out to be another corporate lackey. He made deals with big pharma to ensure you could not get your medication cheaper elsewhere, he flip flopped on military tribunals, he refuses to fix health care properly through nationalization or single payer, he populates his inner circle with more Wall Street insiders, he spends money on bailouts and useless stimulus packages.

  • I hope the Dems lose the house in November. I don’t hate them or anything i just think that government works best when both parties have some power. In my lifetime I think the Government was working best during Reagans and Clintons presidencies and were at its worst during Obamas and Bush II’s.When one party controls everything it seems like its most corrupt and usually the other party sells its soul to the Devil to get back in power.

  • While at some level (based on the URLs of the above) I think these are probably SPAM (WordPress categorized them as such), I can’t argue with the points (though perhaps I would be slightly more generous) so I will publish them.

    That said, I don’t hope the Republicans take the house – I don’t think it will make the situation better.

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