Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cognitive Disconnect on the left and right.

This is one of those posts I started long, long ago, and then sort of let hang there for awhile.  A series of posts by a niche columnists caused me to reconsider it and post it again.

One thing Facebook has really served to do is to vastly expand the amount of casual political commentary, from all political spectrum, I run into.  Well, in re-editing this, not just casual, but even "professional" if you will. And that's increased my running into the interesting cognitive disconnect to many people have in their political views.

People often cherish hard right or hard left notions as they feel they should, and it fits their view on politics in general, or even because it fits their view of one particular thing in particular.  It's interesting how this works.

For instance, one fellow I'm aware of lives in that fair land to our north and comments continually about American politics from a fairly left wing perspective. That's fine, but the other day (now a day far back on the calendar) he posted a long heartfelt item on Israeli politics and how, because they're another culture, we cannot judge them.  Eh?  If a non American can judge American politics that some non American and non Israeli can judge Israeli politics.  Israel, here, however gets a free pass because it's Israel.  That doesn't make very much sense.  It just fits into his worldview.

Quite a few left wing folks I know are very much in favor of stringent gun control and won't consider anything else on that topic. This is always to "save lives" and they won't tolerate any concept that it won't. The same people, however usually have no problem with ending life before it comes into the world, which if the same logic were applied, would absolutely require that to be the state of the law.  Odd.

A selection of those folks are big on legalizing marijuana, even though more and more evidence is building that it has detrimental effects on the brain and its a public safety hazard. How can you be for banning one thing you think is a public safety and personal hazard while arguing to legalize something that is also a public safety and personal hazard?   Either you're going to require the state to probibit everything that's dangerous from being available, or you are not.   You can't hold both opinions, logically.

Indeed, almost nobody, left or right, is for banning booze, but it's undoubtedly the biggest public safety and personal hazard around.  People like to cite the "failed example" of Prohibition, but in reality, Prohibition was actually a success.  People just didn't like it.

Expanding things out, some time ago I saw on Facebook a post by a fellow who ciculated a misquote of H.L. Mencken's.  The quote offered was, in its correct form:
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
Now, the irony of this is that the person who posted the quote was directing it at the GOP race at the time, and more particularly he was addressing it towards Donald Trump.  I don't mean to suggest that Trump is a moron, he clearly is not, no matter what you think of him, but I point this out as that's who he was posting it about.  However, as the same fellow has a lot of conservative friends they leaped right in, not appreciating that, and made comments about how that had happened in the form of President Obama.

Once again, no matter what you think of him, President Obama is in no way, shape or form a moron.  Indeed, I'd guess that no matter who is the next President, they will not be as intelligent as President Obama who is a highly intelligent man. That doesn't mean I agree with Obama on everything, and indeed I disagree with him more often than not, but I note this as people who are asserting that he (or Trump) are morons are doing so simply because they are in the opposite political camp.  Indeed I'd dare say that Obama has taken more abuse of this type than any President since Ronald Reagan.  Being in university at the time Reagan was President I well recall that, according to what I was hearing, he was both a moron and a fascist.   Obama, in contrast, is according to some a moron and a Marxist. Well, none of that is true.

Expanding this out, once columnist I'm aware of is outright hostile to Donald Trump.  A lot of columnist are outright hostile to Donald Trump, that's fine, but this particular columnist is known only because he focus on religion in his writings and is known, therefore, as a religious columnist.  The irony here is that this particular person's faith holds extremely strong opinions on matters of life and death, and including the lives of those who have not yet been born, and by implicitly backing Hillary Clinton he's basically backing a candidate who is very obviously in favor of conduct that this religion holds to be a mortal sin.  What constitutes a mortal sin is not as simple as it may at first seem to be, to those who are not familiar with this in depth, in that it requires knowledge that the conduct is a mortal sin, but almost everyone who writes from that prospective well knows that the underlying conduct is a mortal sin which then raises the question of what arguing for the election of a person, implicitly, who supports conduct that's grave in nature and which is regarded as a mortal sin amounts too.  I'd hesitate to do that, if I were he.

Indeed the same columnist writes quite a bit on gun control, which at least isn't charged with the same apparent danger to ones soul in whatever position a person might take, but like a lot of issues its not that simple and some of the articles strike me as snarky.  I've addressed gun control above, but I'm often struck by how the debate quickly often is marked by Reductio ad absurdum.  I've written a bit on gun control here, and I'll admit that I'm opposed to it on legal, factual, and philosophical grounds, but the debate certainly doesn't always run that way.  Indeed, very often at least the anti vote is really snobbish and seems to assume that the entire world out to be sitting at Starbucks sipping some absurdly odd and over priced coffee product while you are reading The New Yorker and wearing Buddy Holly frames.  Not so much.

By the same token, there are quite a few people locally who take positions on energy issues based, it would appear, simply on their political alignment.  We're undergoing a revolution in energy production and we better face it, and it makes little difference if you are a Republican or Democrat in regards to that.  But to listen to people, you'd think otherwise.

Well, I guess this sort of thing has always been the case. But in a year of political theater of the absurd following years of political dysfunction, we could hope for better.

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