Saturday, February 04, 2006

God Dammit, People

I was listening to a segment on New Hampshire Public Radio where (Dr.?) Drew Westen was discussing a recent study on cognition and partisan think. The conclusion of the study was that partisans aren't really thinking when it comes to political issues; no big surprise there, tell me something I didn't already know. But then he went on to talk about Republicans and Democrats and how both parties have historically made use of this fact. He said, and bear with me because I'm paraphrasing from memory, that Republicans have been very effective in using emotional appeals to manipulate the electorate, but Democrats haven't done so and are clinging to an 18th century notion of dispassionately reasoning about issues. Ok, its shit like that which makes me want to take a baseball bat to my radio. Why, oh why, whenever this subject comes up, does everyone laud the Republican Party and bash the Democrats? It seems like everyone these days has become a confirmed pragmatist; the only consideration given to political parties' actions are how they're likely to affect election outcomes. Hello, is there an idealist in the house? Can we at least stop to pay lip service to the notion that the process of politics is important too? I mean really, so the Republican party has managed to obtain a stranglehold on power because they're good at playing to peoples' emotions? Anyone see anything wrong with this, like maybe emotional manipulation is no way to run an government? I would like to think, in part, that the Democrats are "clinging" to rational discourse because, from a moral, ethical, and economic standpoint, rational discourse is the correct way to make decisions. I'm going to go out on a limb and make the wild-ass assumption that political decisionmaking should be informed, at least in part, by external reality. If you're willing to spot me that assumption then doesn't it shake out from there that encouraging critical thinking about political questions is the right way to do things? So, for the love of god, the next time you here someone discussing political strategy in terms of its pragmatic outcome you should stop and remind them that pragmatism has perverted the political process and that there really is a better way to do things. Oh yeah, and Carthage must be destroyed.

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