Thursday, January 16, 2020

"When Will They Admit They're Wrong?"

     If your question amounts to the headline of this posting, and it's about politics, then the answer is "never."

     It shows up over and over on social media, from Democrats and Republicans, from conservatives and liberals.  If it's a longer version and they've laid out their reasoning, it's often quite logical, frequently plausible; sometimes it takes a highly partisan slant to see things the same way and sometimes it doesn't -- and it matters not one whit.

     Politics isn't about logic.  It's not about common sense and very rarely is "the greater good" at the forefront of the minds of legislators when they draft laws or the Executive branch when they implement them.  It's not even the first concern of judges or juries, and as for your neighbors, when he or she goes to vote or stick a campaign sign in the front yard, they're probably not either.

     Oh, we and the politicians we vote in like to invoke the idea; we all like to think we are sensible, rational beings and that if those partisan halfwits on the other side would just shut up and listen, the scales would fall from their eyes and they, too, would see the pellucid wisdom of the policies and ideas we hold dear.

     But that's not how it works.  It's not how it works for "them" (whoever they might be) and it's not how it works for "us" either.

     It's a bitter pill but here's the truth, the real deal: it's about emotion. It's about rationalization, and wow, are humans talented at rationalizing whatever we have chosen to commit to.  Once we have, it seems perfectly sensible to us and divergent views look wrong.

     There may, in fact, be a clear right and wrong side to a political issue, one that would be obvious to a disinterested observer; but you and I are not disinterested observers.  We're inside the social machinery and it's well-nigh impossible to take a colorful pill and step out.

     There are people who went to their graves convinced poor Dick Nixon was unfairly railroaded out of office; people sitting right there next to you who are certain that lying to Congress about sexual horseplay in the Oval Office with an intern does not constitute an impeachable offense.  Maybe you agree with one or the other or both; maybe there's a red flag in there for you.  --Your reaction, whatever it is, is emotional, not logical.

     Bear that in mind as the present political drama plays out across TV screens and social media.  It's engrossing; you have strong feelings about it and so do a lot of other people.  It's not worth getting in fights over.  It's not worth puzzling over why those wretchedly obtuse people who disagree with you can't just wise up and see things your way.  They're not going to.  Even if you're right.


Burke Smith said...

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! If you haven't read A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell, you would love it. You're channeling him in your post. Also, check out The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

rickn8or said...

It's not so much the wrong-headedness of my fellow citizens that bothers me so much as the clumsy liars that presume to rule over us.

Anonymous said...

So true. Thanks for the wisdom.

Chuck Pergiel said...

I think I love you. Yes, I might be drunk.

Kevin said...

I second the vote for A Conflict of Visions. I wish I’d read it in my twenties rather than my late forties.

Roberta X said...

The Sowell book is spoken well of even by reviewers who disagree with his politics. That's quite an achievement -- some similar books are little more than scholarly ad hominems.