Election Fallout

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.

Math. It works. Learn to use it.

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:

The image itself is pretty amusing, actually, particularly since spending any more than two seconds thinking about it yields several logical errors, including but not limited to:

  • 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.


Thank God for the internet.

I’ll update soon about the research front, I promise!




About Shannon Quinn

Oh hai!
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4 Responses to Election Fallout

  1. One of the things that, IMO, was severely lacking (to the point that even I almost forgot about it before I voted), was the Net Neutrality debate. I realize that it isn’t forefront on people’s minds anymore since SOPA/PIPA were shut down, but it’s an important aspect of the Internet. If Net Neutrality isn’t enforced, I feel that the economy will take substantially longer to recover from this recession. The Internet brings new products, new business and, with that, new knowledge worker jobs (which might enforce our education systems to have higher standards for math and science curricula). Obama is pro net neutrality, and Romney (from what I could gather) would have snuffed it out immediately. Not to say that I voted for Obama ONLY for that reason, but it was a relevant push in his direction.

    • magsol says:

      Every year, Science Debate ( http://www.sciencedebate.org/ ) posts questions for the candidates to answer that are directly related to the science policy in the US. And every year, the candidates decline any sort of science-oriented debate and pawn the questions off to their campaign lackeys to answer.

      The problem is this: since science at large (excluding climate research) and net neutrality are still largely un-politicized, politicians don’t want to be seen being wrong when they talk about this stuff. And with science and engineering, it’s very easy to be wrong.

      I’m of the opinion that anyone against net neutrality doesn’t fully understand what it is, and/or is in the side pocket of ISPs. It’s pretty straightforward: pay for bandwidth, not content. Period.

      • It’s pretty straightforward: pay for bandwidth, not content. Period.
        That is the most concise description I’ve heard thus far, I’m going to use it.

        Someone (who is not a fan of Net Neutrality), furnished this link. It’s definitely a different side to the debate, I had not thought about the implications of handing over the keys to the Internet to the government.

      • magsol says:

        I’ve seen these arguments before, and I stand by my original assertion (modified for this case) that folks against Net Neutrality either don’t fully understand it, or are partisan hacks who hear words associated with it like “regulation” and “government” and are immediately against it.

        The point is: someone has to enforce the rules. Period. It wasn’t until recently with the advent of streaming services that net neutrality even became an issue; most web traffic was HTTP. Now we have Bit Torrent, multimedia, and lots of other protocols and services zipping around. Furthermore, ISPs offer their own competing services, so there’s a much, much stronger incentive for ISPs to charge based on content than there was even a decade ago.

        Hence we need something like net neutrality enforced more than we ever needed it enforced before. Comcast has already been caught red-handed on multiple occasions throttling traffic like bit torrent. Sure you can call it “regulation”, but there’s a baseline level of it that’s absolutely essential to keep these corporations from doing absolutely anything to pad their bottom lines. The FCC has its issues, yeah, but its track record has actually been pretty good (at least, when it hasn’t been staffed by regulators who then immediately leave government and become private sector lobbyists).

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