Why Politics Are Bad For Us

For starters, they make us dumber.

I have a confession to make: Even though it's my job to write about politics, I didn't watch a single second of the Republican or Democratic conventions -- not even a YouTube clip of Clint Eastwood talking to the chair.

I've long found electoral politics seedy and dispiriting, but that sensibility has lately become a debilitating affliction: like being a sportswriter struck by the unhelpful epiphany that it's silly for a grown man to write about other grown men playing a game for kids.

These days, when I tune in to ABC's "This Week" looking for a column topic, I can't even make it past the first commercial break. Like Peter says to the management consultant in "Office Space," "The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy; it's that I just don't care."

Maybe there are sound intellectual reasons for recoiling from the political horse race. In a recent essay at the Cato Institute's Libertarianism.org site, my colleagues Aaron Powell and Trevor Burrus argue that "Politics Makes Us Worse."

Politics makes us dumb, they argue, crippling our ability to "[think] critically about the choices before us." And politics makes us mean: "[A]ll too often, [it] makes us hate each other." Partisan passions turn "modest differences of opinion" on policy into "an apocalyptic battle between virtue and vice."

True enough: Many conservatives are convinced that Barack Obama, who holds the policy positions of your median Prius driver, is bent on destroying the American way of life. Many liberals have convinced themselves that Mitt Romney, the very model of all-American Mormon niceness, is a vicious plutocratic thug who loved to beat up gay kids in high school.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion," wrote a blog post recently called "Discovering That the Other Side Is Not Really So Loathsome," riffing off an essay by Michael Rubens, a former "Daily Show" producer. It was Rubens' job to interview Rush Limbaugh fans and gun-toting Tea Partiers so Jon Stewart's audience could point and laugh. "[I]magine how irksome it was," Rubens writes, to discover that these folks "generally weren't loathsome persons after all. In fact, to my great consternation and disappointment, I often liked them."

I had to laugh when I saw the very first comment on Haidt's post. "I do not buy this," wrote "Bert Gold, Ph.D.": "[N]o credit for civility to Republicans. ... [T]hey humiliated a sitting President and plotted to do so from the night of his inauguration. Despicable is not a strong enough word."

Politics makes us worse because "politics is the mindkiller," as intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky puts it. "Evolutionary psychology produces strange echoes in time," he writes, "as adaptations continue to execute long after they cease to maximize fitness." We gorge ourselves sick on sugar and fat, and we indulge our tribal hard-wiring by picking a political "team" and denouncing the "enemy."

But our atavistic Red/Blue tribalism plays to the interests of "individual politicians in getting you to identify with them instead of judging them," Yudkowsky writes.

Once they do that, they can get away with murder, as Gawker.com illustrated with a neat trick at the Democratic National Convention. The reporter took a camera around the hall, asking attendees, "Can Americans trust Mitt Romney to make the call about which U.S. citizens to assassinate with drones?" A good question, but it left Democratic bigwigs like Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., flummoxed and confused.

We'll get more of the same, Yudkowsky argues, until "Republifans and Demofans ... stop enthusiastically cheering for rich lawyers because they wear certain colors, and begin judging them as employees severely derelict in their duties."

This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner. 

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  • sarcasmic||

    In other breaking news, scientists have come to a startling conclusion about water.
    It's wet.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Consensus scientists or actual ones?

  • sarcasmic||

    They were wearing white coats. That's all I know.

  • $park¥||

    Did they have clipboards? Because the white coat isn't quite complete without a clipboard.

  • Ice Nine||

    TEAM WHITE!

  • RobSmalls||

    If you ain't white, you ain't right.

  • Pip||

    Did a politician give them force them to wear those white coats for a photo-op?

  • T o n y||

    Add "scientific consensus" to the pile of perfectly fine terms rendered bad by propaganda.

    Real scientists = those who form a consensus with you?

  • $park¥||

    You see, REAL scientific consensus means 100% of scientists agree. If 100% of scientists don't agree on the result of an experiment then it's time to make a new experiment, or a new hypothesis.

  • sarcasmic||

    Real scientists = scientists who follow the scientific method.

    Consensus is a tool for politics, not science.

  • tarran||

    ^^^^This

    And if you are sabotaging your critics attempts to reproduce your experiments you are not a scientist - I'm looking at you *Dr* Mann!

  • ||

    Having no understanding whatsoever of what science or the scientific method is, what you just said sounds like charlie brown's teacher to T o n y. I am sure he really does think that consensus means more than jack-shit in science.

  • Brandybuck||

    Yes, you're right Tony. But it wasn't just Rethuglicans who put out the bad propaganda, TEAM BLUE was also out there saying "there has been a consensus so no need to think anymore, just believe what we tell you".

  • AlmightyJB||

    That's because they've taken care of everything, the words you read, the songs you sing.

  • ||

    Politics is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my politics.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the politics has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Akin to the Litany Against Ugly:

    I must not see ugly. Ugly is the taste-killer. Ugly is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face away from your ugly. I will permit it to pass over there and away from me. And when it has gone past I will turn a squinting eye to see its path. Where the ugly has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
  • Whiterun Guard||

    I've been drinking 8 glasses of gravy a day, just like you told us to.

  • Rich||

    "Can Americans trust Mitt Romney to make the call about which U.S. citizens to assassinate with drones?" A good question, but it left Democratic bigwigs like Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., flummoxed and confused.

    "No soap. Radio!"

  • John||

    Politics makes us dumb, they argue, crippling our ability to "[think] critically about the choices before us." And politics makes us mean: "[A]ll too often, [it] makes us hate each other."

    That is first rate stupid. It gets the causality backwards. Politics is lousy because we hate each other. That is what human beings do. Human beings are not these wonderful rational people who are corrupted by politics. No, human beings are tribalistic, self interested, occasionally rational and often hate filled beings who corrupt politics.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Yeah, really this article kind of conflates politics with media-filtered politics.

  • ChrisO||

    Actually, I'd say it's conflating "retail politics" with "actual politics."

    Actual politics is nothing more or less than the process of compromise between incompatible positions. In successful politics, everybody gets something they want, but nobody gets everything they want.

    This is why the educational mission of libertarianism is more important than the electoral side. Influencing people to change their own minds about what they want the government to do is more important than trying to dictate to them what they are supposed to want.

    In contrast, I think Healy is on firmer ground when it comes to retail politics, which is nothing more than the marketing process of political candidates.

    Does retail politics drive people to think and say nasty and unfair things about their countrymen who disagree? Absolutely.

    To win a political race, you have to create and enhance clean divisions of opinion, which inherently requires demonization of one's opponents and their supporters.

    It's no different than selling Bud Light vs. Miller Light. They're the same fucking swill, really, but the marketing process tries to make the drinkers of one all look like a bunch hard-bodied gods/goddesses, while the drinkers of the other are a bunch of losers who are too stupid to drink the correct brand of swill.

  • John||

    Does retail politics drive people to think and say nasty and unfair things about their countrymen who disagree? Absolutely.

    Doesn't real politics do the same? In fact I would say real politics does so even more than retail politics. If people can hate each other over fake differences, it would seem they would hate each other even more over real differences.

    This whole article is nothing but a "the world would be great if everyone just would shut up and agree with us" call.

  • ChrisO||

    No, I don't see that at all. Politics is essentially negotiation--the process of people having no choice but to come to an agreement, regardless of whether they hate each other.

    Healy is pointing out that the electoral process currently exaggerates differences in the electorate on purpose. Those differences are real, but the electoral process (in which I include the media and Internet commentariat) focuses on those differences and ignores our commonalities. Why do you think that wedge issues predominate?

    Occasionally, you'll see politicians succeed on a "commonality model." Reagan was able to accomplish two landslides by convincing a large slice of "the other side" that they should make common cause with his side.

    However, I think the increasing role of the commentariat, and a 50/50 electorate, has created a situation where it's more advantageous for political pros to focus on wedge issues and getting to 51%.

  • John||

    First, Reagan didn't succeed on the commonality model. Reagan was at the time considered a radical candidate. And the other side hated him. It is not like he got 75% of the vote or anything.

    And who says differences are exaggerated? This guy just says they are because he doesn't think the wedge issues are important. Well good for him. A lot of other people disagree and think those issues are very important. They are wedge issues because people think they are important. Again, this article is nothing but a long winded way of saying "if only everyone agreed with us". BFD.

  • ChrisO||

    Reagan got the "Reagan Democrats" by appealing to their common concerns with traditional Republicans. That delivered him two big victories at a time when registered Democrats still greatly outnumbered registered Republicans.

  • ChrisO||

    By the way, we libertarians have our own wedge issues--which feature prominently on this very site.

    Just as how abortion and the "war on women" are transparent attempts to appeal to raw emotion among the partisans of left and right, a focus on SWAT raids and the harshness of the War on Drugs does the same for us libertarians.

    None of these issues are anywhere near the top of the pile for a country that is about to slide off the fiscal cliff into oblivion. And yet look at which topics get the largest number of comments around here. We're just as susceptible to it as liberals and conservatives.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The bazillions of dollars wasted on the Drug War is not a fiscal issue?

    Are you high?

  • ChrisO||

    It's a drop in the bucket.

  • John||

    And what would this world without politics look like? Let me guess, it would involve everyone agreeing with the CATO institute. Color me shocked.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If government were strictly limited in scope, politics wouldn't be so important.

  • John||

    True. But it would still suck. And people would still suck just as bad. They would just have less power hopefully to stick it to other people.

    My beef is not with the need for limited government. My beef is with the absurd idea that people are corrupted by politics, as if without politics people would be anything other than what they are.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "They would just have less power hopefully to stick it to other people."

    I think you are underestimating the impact of this.

  • Killazontherun||

    True. But it would still suck.

    Gotta agree. You can't get any smaller, less power, less authority than my local town council, and I would still like to feed them all to alligators just for the pettiness of the few annoyances in my life they have created.

  • $park¥||

    Funny story: my father was telling me how the town council where he lives passed a new rule in an attempt to save money on garbage disposal. Now residents can't throw out more than 40 lbs of garbage per week.

  • ||

    Wow. That really cracks me up. It is impossible to make that kind of shit up.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    My beef is with the absurd idea that people are corrupted by politics, as if without politics people would be anything other than what they are.

    Lao Tzu, didn't think it was so absurd. And, sorry, John, you're no Lao Tzu. You might be a second-rate Menicus with some work though.

  • ||

    And then it would grow again. It disappoints me you can't see this.

  • Pro Libertate||

    And I mock your views. But who mocks the mockers?

  • sarcasmic||

    Me.

  • $park¥||

    As far as I'm concerned, you will always be the Ultimate Mocking Mocker who Mocks.

  • ||

    You can mock all you want, ProL, yet I'm the one who's right. I wish I wasn't, but your idea of limited government is an abject failure and the proof is the world we live in. Mock that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    My failure at least happened on this planet.

  • $park¥||

    So a proven failure is better than a theoretical success?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'd say theory is a strong word for a system that's maybe existed when we were still banging rocks together for entertainment. And probably not even then.

    For the record, I'd prefer a totally cooperative society without government or unjustified coercion, but that seems untenable until we're replaced by robots or Homo sapiens superior.

  • $park¥||

    One can only hope that the next evolutionary leap happens before the species destroys itself.

  • ||

    It's too bad your comment doesn't seem to make sense on this one, though.

  • sarcasmic||

    My failure at least happened on this planet.

    Without an incentive to repeal shitty rules, unintended consequences of shitty rules resulted in more shitty rules ("Must do something!") which created more unintended consequences which resulted in more shitty rules which created more unintended consequences....

    And here we are.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The flaw is in the species, I fear. Minarchy is the slow way, but without a reset button, it will degrade. Like most human institutions.

  • Loki||

    Minarchy is the slow way, but without a reset button, it will degrade.

    Isn't that the way of everything? Everything is subject to entropy, decay, and eventual death. Everything. It's just how the universe works, and there's no escaping it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Seems like it.

  • ||

    We haven't gotten to that point yet, as it can cost between $30,000 and $100,000 to install a new mocker.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What are you poor? Sell one of your golden monocles.

  • db||

    He's afraid of finding out it's a gold plated tungsten monocle.

  • ant1sthenes||

    It would grow again from anarchy too. What's your point?

  • Tim||

    "We offered the world order!"

  • ||

    Well, the difference would be that every disagreement wouldn't be a titanic mulit-billion dollar struggle for survival.

  • John||

    Yes there would be. Unless you got everyone to agree with CATO, the struggle would be exactly the same even with a small government. People are always going to want the government to do them favors.

  • $park¥||

    When you take decision making and responsibility away from people, people get used to not having to make decisions and to living with no responsibility.

  • ||

    The difference is that things would be voluntary, instead of 51% forcing their values on the other 49% over and over.

  • $park¥||

    It's even worse when you consider the fact that it's actually more like the 33% forcing their views on the 67%.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    And what would this world without politics look like? Let me guess, it would involve everyone agreeing with the CATO institute.

    But Cato is team rational pure love.

    Why they're the vanguard of libertopia.

    Anyone that disagrees with them is an evil splitist wrecker.

  • $park¥||

    "Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you."

  • Randian||

    VG continues the proud tradition of the idiot yokels making shit up and presenting it as fact.

  • R C Dean||

    Well, the nice thing about tribalistic politics is not that it guarantees every corrupt sociopath a fan base, but that it guarantees him an opposition.

  • Zeb||

    It is interesting how close elections almost always are. Even a landslide win is usually under 10% margin. It doesn't seem at all obvious that this should be the case.

  • AlmightyJB||

    That's because when one team starts to lose an edge they desperatley seek ways to pandor to more people, work harder fire up the base, or they change positions to steal from the other teams demographic. You only need 51% so there is no great incentive to get too far ahead (which costs money), but there is a real incentive in not dropping below 50%.

  • Tim||

    When two tribes go to war
    A point is all you can score

  • Lyle||

    I don't want to live somewhere where politics doesn't exist.

  • John||

    There isn't a lot of political debate in North Korea. Just saying.

  • Lyle||

    I was thinking of North Korea too.

  • ChrisO||

    Politics exists in North Korea, but only among the small circle of the ruling elite. They are constantly jockeying for influence and power amongst themselves.

    That's politics just as much as democratic electioneering, albeit of a different sort.

  • Lyle||

    Yes, we know this.

  • ||

    The current situation is exactly what the parties and politicians want. Exactly. They want mindless devotion to TEAM. They want to be able to do nothing they say they will do, or do the opposite, and still have mindless sheep partisans vote for them anyway. This is the system that works best for them. And they have it now.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I agree. What's particularly beautiful about the current situation to the parties is that they were able to do this without actually sending in the troops.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "The current situation is exactly what the parties and politicians want."

    And corporashuns...don't forget corporashuns!

  • ||

    It's like that "spot the differences" game in the comics section of the newspaper. If gets you focusing on tiny little differences instead of realizing that it's basically two of the same picture.

  • ant1sthenes||

    It's really much more sensible than the old school fascist notion of uniting society against an external threat or a hated minority. There, you always run the risk of losing control of the hate and people demanding you finally eliminate the hated class (and with it, your influence) or get into a war you can't necessarily win.

    Split the population 50-50, and they'll never get that bold, but they'll be just as loyal to their respective leaders. So long as you make sure both sets of politicians are responsive to the same agenda (aside from those wedge topics necessary to keep the population united against itself), you can easily maintain full control.

  • Tim||

    There's a whiff of facism in Healy's post.

  • ChrisO||

    Down with the faces!!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Have you said fuck muhammad today?

  • Pip||

    "The events of the past couple of weeks have been deeply troubling, to say the least — and not merely because of the violent attacks and riots in the Middle East themselves, but also because of the ease with which administration officials have rushed to throw our cherished belief in the universality of the First Amendment under the oncoming bus of radical Islam."

    I stopped reading Friday Funnies months ago, because they sucked. This quote would make a good Friday Funny - Obama nonchalantly tossing a copy of the Bill of Rights under a busload of raging jihadists. Maybe a caption, but maybe not.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Obama and his staff watching a movie, with the Bill of Rights on the screen, then complaining that what they just saw was too inflammatory.

  • Loki||

    "Fuck Muhammad and the camel he rode in on." There.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Many conservatives are convinced that Barack Obama, who holds the policy positions of your median Prius driver, is bent on destroying the American way of life. Many liberals have convinced themselves that Mitt Romney, the very model of all-American Mormon niceness, is a vicious plutocratic thug who loved to beat up gay kids in high school.

    Well, yeah. Which is why public choice theory should be taught in every school. But that would introduce a level of intellectual sophistication unwanted by the ruling class.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Hell, they don't teach anything. Even teaching basic math skills would give people at least the concept of logical reasoning. Forget about critical thinking skills. Stupid people believe stupid things.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Many liberals have convinced themselves that Mitt Romney, the very model of all-American Mormon niceness, is a vicious plutocratic thug who loved to beat up gay kids in high school."

    And a Reason contributor called him the Grinch. Top. That.

  • Lisa||

    In my experience, it's more often leftists who can't separate their feelings about ideas from the person who holds them. I don't hate liberals. They are often otherwise cool and nice people but with a bad side which consists of terrible logic, scary devotion to politicians, and elitism.

  • sarcasmic||

    I find liberals tend to judge ideas based upon their feeling about the person who has them. Source is more important than content.

  • $park¥||

    When a pure and good will is the source, the action and the consequence are irrelevant.

  • sarcasmic||

    Can't pave the Road to Hell without a pile of good intentions.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I find that many people base their views on how sanctomonious it makes them feel and how they think their views will cause other people will perceive them. I think that is particularly stong on the left. That's why they wear their views on their sleeves. They want people to know how "progressive, tolerent, and enlightened" they are. To your point, I don't think that makes them bad people. Everyone is a hypocrite to a certain extent.

  • John||

    My general experience is that it is people on the left who are santimoneous. I have a lot of friends on the Right. And I disagree with them pretty stongly about drugs and porn and blue laws and things like that. But I have never had one of them get angry at me over it or refuse to discuss any politics because of our differences. Most of them think I am wrong but are always interested in having a good conversation about it.

    I know a few liberals like that. But I know a lot more who either have told me on no uncertain terms that if we were going to be friends we couldn't talk politics or have stopped being friends with me over politics. I have yet to have a friend on the Right do that.

  • sarcasmic||

    But I know a lot more who either have told me on no uncertain terms that if we were going to be friends we couldn't talk politics or have stopped being friends with me over politics.

    That has been my experience as well.

    They get emotional to the brink of violence.

    Very difficult to talk ideas with someone on the verge of a temper tantrum.

  • ||

    I find that liberal judge people based on their adherence to liberal dogma.

    It's a self-reinforcing cycle. Deviate from the dogma, and you're a suspect person, possibly a Republican, not ot be trusted, so any time you deviate from the dogma, it's proof that only suspect people deviate from the dogma, so the dogma is reinforced.

  • sarcasmic||

    There have been rare instances where I've gotten a liberal to question his/her faith in government, but it only takes a day or two of hanging out with the congregation and they're back to repeating the same old dogma.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    begin judging them as employees severely derelict in their duties.

    "When was the last time you heard somebody tell the President, "I don't work for you. You work for me."? A great nation has been brought low.

  • $park¥||

    Sorry, only sycophants are allowed to speak to the President.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Technically he works for George Soros.

  • Numeromancer||

    Since Healy didn't link to it, I will: Yudkowski's web site. A lot of good stuff.

  • ||

    What RC said.

    Our constitution deliberately sets power seekers against each other to keep them busy fighting each other instead of us. Politics is good and the dirtier the better.

    Throw all the fuckers into a sack together with prison-grade shanks and shoot anything that tries to get out.

  • sarcasmic||

    Our constitution deliberately sets power seekers against each other to keep them busy fighting each other instead of us.

    Until the branches learned that they can increase their power by colluding with each other.

    Penaltax!

  • Drake||

    You guys know this is a political magazine? This is like reading about how bad video games are for you in Gamer magazine.

  • ChrisO||

    I'd say it's a magazine of ideas and ideology more than politics, per se.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    If politics are bad for us, think how much worse pies are. Delicious pecan pies.

  • ||

    So glad pie season is upon us.

  • ||

    Not a good year. The pecans and acorns are kinda thin this year. Last year was a boom, this year a bust.

  • Pip||

    It's always pie season.

  • John||

    Many conservatives are convinced that Barack Obama, who holds the policy positions of your median Prius driver, is bent on destroying the American way of life. Many liberals have convinced themselves that Mitt Romney, the very model of all-American Mormon niceness, is a vicious plutocratic thug who loved to beat up gay kids in high school.

    LOL. But of course many libertarians are convinced they are both right. Is this article some kind of a parody? Last I looked Libertarians hated their political enemies just as much as anyone else. Indeed, that very paragraph implies that everyone but Libertarians are hate filled lunatics who believe crazy things about their opponents. But the Libertarians are the ones who are above this kind of thing? Wow.

  • ||

    I missed the part where the article made that claim.

  • John||

    That is the whole point of the article. How retail politics makes people believe crazy things. If Libertarians are not above this sort of thing, then why are only conservatives and liberals singled out?

  • ||

    If by 'their opponents' you mean anyone who despises liberty, than I guess you are right about me. I cant speak for anyone else.

    Yeah, I fuckin hate em. Passionately.

  • John||

    Good for you Southenboy. That is your right. And you probably should. But what you shouldn't do is then feel superior to them because they hate their opponents.

  • ||

    You're missing the point. The problem is focusing on hating your opponents to such an extent that you overlook all the flaws of "your guy". We libertarians don't get a guy.

  • John||

    What is Gary Johnson chopped liver? And what about Ron Paul?

  • ||

    Yes, we are all chopped liver at the rate things are going.

  • ||

    Both Republican party dropouts who could garner 2% of the overall electorate if they combined forces and promised everyone free chocolate and beer? Yeah, I think you could say libertarians are much less obsessive about party politics.

  • sarcasmic||

    What about Gary's Johnson?

    Doesn't TEAM Libertarian have Gary's Johnson?

    I don't know about you, but I'm voting for Gary's Johnson.

    Just had a chat with Mr Conservative Coworker and he's pretty pissed that I'm voting for Gary's Johnson because that amounts to a vote for the guy with Hussein in his name.

    Any my, what a flawless Johnson it is.

    GO TEAM!

    /snark

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm catching that crap from my mom. Still voting for Johnson. Thanksgiving should be fun.

  • ||

    I've actually moved my mom from voting (R) to voting (L) with my powers of persuasion.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I don't bother. I just move the conversation to how much Obama sucks.

  • sarcasmic||

    My mom is a single issue voter: abortion.

    "How does this person feel about abortion?" is the only question she asks herself before making a choice (pun intended).

    Oh, and she's against it btw.

  • Loki||

    I'm catching that crap from my mom.

    I caught some crap from my parents too. I told them that if Obama wins CO by a single vote, and CO's 9 electoral college votes are what put Obama over the top, then and only then will my wife and I apologize for voting for Johnson instead of Mittens. But otherwise, I'm voting for Johnson and for once in my life I won't feel dirty when I come out of the voting booth.

  • Gary Johnson||

    We libertarians don't get a guy.

    What the fuck???

  • ||

    I see your point. Nah, that they hate me I consider a badge of honor.

    Having an evil shit-for-brains like Orrin Hatch say that he hates me is the equivalent of having anyone else say that I am a good person.

    This is not to say that they could not redeem themselves by becoming defenders of liberty. I would welcome them with open arms, but I am not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

  • Loki||

    A good question, but it left Democratic bigwigs like Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., flummoxed and confused.

    It wasn't the question that left him flummoxed and confused, that's just his normal state.

  • ||

    The most vociferously rabid polical junkies I know are left wing progressives.

    Remember the phrase "The personal is political"? Well, these people live their lives according to it. Every decision they make from morning to night is supposed to be guided by environmental and socio-economic consciousness. You have ot think about where your toilet paper comes from (is it recycled?) , what kind of coffee you drink (fair trade), whether you drive to work or take a bike, whether your clothes are made by vertically integrated American manufacturers or chinese sweatshops. Whether your eggs for breakfast are free range, whether the milk has hormones, how much the workers are making in the factory that built your television set, etc. etc. It's a non-stop regimen of constant political focus to every action of every minute of every day.

    It's impossible to have a conversation with any of them without it turning into a political debate, because there is literally nothing else they think about.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We jumped the shark when we stopped having limited government. A good percentage of American voters don't think the government is the way to get things done and wants to ignore politics as much as possible.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort."
    -Heinlein's Lazarus Long

  • sarcasmic||

    The thing you left out is that they are also constantly scheming on how to get other people to make the same choices that they would make, be it with force or deception.

  • Robert||

    Can I ghost write for you? I'll just take 50%. And seeing your name on the check will stop me from thinking you're Ted Healy.

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  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
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