Long Political Rant, Part I -- Emotionally driven politics.

in #politics2 years ago


One of the most frustrating things about modern American politics is that, in my experience, too few people actually have logically consistent and well-thought-out reasons for supporting or opposing policies.

More commonly, people's views tend to be emotionally driven. Occasionally, that emotional impetus is rooted in genuine empathy; much more often, it's rooted in moral outrage masquerading as empathy. Of course, moral outrage does have its place – for instance, I'm outraged that there are kids being held in cages at the border, that we've been involved in an endless series of wars for the past 19 years, that people are still being locked up for smoking the wrong kind of plant. But outrage is too often divorced from any rational analysis, any sense of proportionality or relativity, and in some cases even from a basic understanding of causality, which inevitably results in very bad policy.

The classic example is the comfortable suburbanite liberal who sees homeless squatters living in a shanty town and decides “no one should have to live in run-down shacks like that!” She petitions the city government to create zoning laws and housing regulations that make shanty towns illegal; the end result is that now the homeless population doesn't even have those run-down shacks anymore, so they're forced to sleep on the streets or move elsewhere. Such outcomes are all too often the result of so-called 'empathy-driven' politics.

In particularly egregious cases, the outrage is over something that's not even true. This is fairly common among social conservatives, who will often get outraged over some fabricated story in a right-wing tabloid about how schools are forcing children to crossdress or exposing them to explicit sex acts, or about how wishing someone “Merry Christmas!” is illegal now or some such nonsense.

There's also a bizarre flip side to this, where people will condemn those who agree with them if it's for 'impure' reasons. For example, pro-immigrant leftists will often criticise libertarians and centrist Democrats for supporting open borders, on the basis that they only want immigrants around to serve as a source of cheap labor for large corporations. Needless to say, I find this sort of purist “with us for exactly the right reasons or against us” attitude to be extremely counter-productive, for reasons that should be obvious.