I hate politics. Let’s just get this over with.
The current levels of national polarization are revealing character flaws that are troubling. For one: the party of pulling-oneself-up-by-their-bootstraps takes credit for victories, but blames others for defeat. For two: “winning”–or more accurately, “defeating the other team”–has become more important than “doing the right thing.” One may argue they are synonymous, but at most I would argue they have a weak correlation.
For three: people who do legitimate fact-checking get publicly denounced and belittled when said facts don’t lend credence to the emotional beliefs of a certain group. Exhibit A: Nate Silver. This guy just unleashed onto politics what Billy Beane set loose in the MLB. But because the numbers pointed to an Obama victory, he was slammed by conservative pundits in a wicked powerful Reality Distortion Field.
For four: folks who say things like “I’m moving to Canada”, demonstrating just how uneducated and uninformed our electorate has become.
And finally, for five: the level of personal vitriol has become sickening. You have Americans literally hating other Americans for the simple reason that they voted differently. I resolved this election season not to post anything on Facebook, but just to watch things scroll by. I successfully did so, and for the most part I could amuse myself from a relatively detached perspective. But a few posts managed to drill through, like this one:
- If everyone who votes Democrat is unemployed, why would they vote for the candidate under whom they (presumably) lost their jobs?
- If everyone who votes Republican is employed, why would they vote against the candidate under whom they remained employed or even picked up a new job?
The insulting part isn’t the photo. What’s insulting is that the first and only comment on it came from someone I know very well, and who knows me and my family quite well. And who knows that many people on their Facebook list voted for Obama.
Adding salt to the wound: this was but one of several references this person made to the “supporters of Obama are unemployed leeches” meme.
To me, this is the ultimate failure: politics has become personal. It’s not about the issues anymore. It’s about sticking it to your political opponents, regardless of their relationship to you outside of politics. Sure, everyone says they favor “open and honest debate”, but I have yet to see one materialize anywhere, outside of informal and impromptu dinner talks. Hence why nothing actually gets done.
Nate Silver, to me, represents one of the last vestiges of rational discourse in the political mainstream. Obviously every election forward is going to employ its own army of data monkeys, but you won’t hear about them. Instead, you’ll hear about how this candidate is evil and hates America, or how this other candidate is an out-of-touch android who panders to whichever direction the wind is blowing.
No facts. No discourse. Just dumbass pundits talking past one another, and the uninformed electorate eating up the stuff they already agreed with and getting angrier over the points they disagreed with.
……QUICK NEED LOLCAT!
I’ll update soon about the research front, I promise!