'Tis the Season for Politics to Make Us Worse

Minimal government has virtues beyond lower debt, less crowded prisons, and less militarized police. It might even save your family.


Santa Claus
Wikimedia Commons

Politics makes us worse—and at no time more so than around the holidays.

"If I have to listen to my crazy Tea Party uncle say one more thing about Michael Brown and Ferguson, I'm going to flip over the dinner table and retreat to my childhood room to look at old issues of Seventeen."

"What are these liberal universities doing to our son?!? I'm not sure we should let him go back there."

"When did you get so angry at the world, Mom and Dad? Is there something that isn't Obama's fault?!?"

Welcome to an American holiday tradition. Apple pie now comes with a side of political yelling, especially after a few glasses of eggnog.

The problem, of course, is that "they" don't get it. How could they? Mom and Dad's brains might as well be directly hooked to Fox News like the humans in the Matrix. The children's "progressive" universities are as hermetically sealed off from reality as North Korea. And don't even get me started on Uncle Tim, whose rural worldview is a strange mixture of a fear of black helicopters and a demand for increased farm subsidies.  

How can you be expected to live in the same state, let alone country, with people who vote for fascism while you are voting for freedom? When they live in a fake world created by a self-serving news media and you live in reality? It's probably best if we just double spike the eggnog and watch A Christmas Story for the third time.

But it's not "their" fault; it's politics' fault—specifically, the politicization of more and more important and irreconcilable values. America is a deeply divided nation of clashing values partially because politics has made us this way. No matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, it's time to stop hating the players and start hating the game.  

It was a nice, progressive, like-minded neighborhood until they moved in. With their "Jesus is the reason for the season" sign and their "Palin in 2016" bumper sticker, they stuck out like Bears fans at Lambeau Field. Then they started showing up at school board meetings and pushing for curriculum changes. Less environmentalism, more Founding Fathers. And others joined them, perhaps having been too scared to speak out before. Now there's an ongoing political fight over curriculum standards and two different yearly block parties, one red and one blue. Friends are now enemies, children are not allowed to play together. But why did they have to come in and try to control the education of your children in the first place?

The answer, of course, is because politics controls education, and as long as that's true, then it really can't be any other way. The education of future generations is too important. Rather than give control over education to individual parents via school choice, we've given control to those who can galvanize 50 percent +1 of the vote. And since the outcomes are zero sum—what the winning side wins the other side loses—then the stakes are even higher. So people fight, not because they want to, but because they have to.

Like any other game, the rules create the attitudes and strategies of the players. Throw two brothers into the Colosseum for a gladiatorial fight to the death, and brotherly sentiment will quickly evaporate. Throw siblings, neighbors, or friends into a political world that increasingly controls our deepest values, and love and care are quickly traded for resentment. 

But it gets even worse. The first-past-the-post rules of our democratic politics turns a continuum of possibilities into binary choices and thus imposes black-and-white thinking onto a world made mostly of grays. Teams (politicians), cheerleaders (pundits), and fans (voters) galvanize around an artificially schismatic world view.

And then our biases take over. Now that we've invented a problem—"which group of 50 percent +1 will control education for everyone?"—imposed a binary solution—"we will teach either creation or evolution"—and invented teams to rally around those solutions—"are you a science denier or a science supporter?"—our tribal and self-serving brains go to work assuring us that we are on the side of righteousness and truth. The shrillest and most dogmatic pundits and politicians become the most popular, feeding our sense of righteousness like southern Baptist preachers.    

This is your brain on politics, and these are the people that an overly politicized world creates. And it's inevitable if politics continues to take over more of our deepest, most divergent values.

Classical liberal and libertarian principles are about providing an operating system for free and diverse people to thrive cooperatively rather than combatively, creating a Minecraft for human ingenuity and flourishing rather than a Call of Duty fight to the death. Limiting the scope of political decision-making creates a type of mutual disarmament—"I won't try to control your education or health care if you don't try to control mine."

Minimal government has virtues beyond lower debt, less crowded prisons, and less militarized police. It might even save your family. 

NEXT: In 2014, Frightened Rulers Did Scary Things

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  1. This is rank silliness. The reason that people fight over politics is essentially the same reason that they fight over religion or over any field which involves ethics -- a difference in values which results in differences in politics. "Let's get government out of our lives and we'll all stop fighting" is absolutely absurd -- there was no unanimity or civility in politics when our government was smaller than there is today; you are essentially saying that your own political value system is so self-evident and perfect that its implementation results not only in better outcomes, but a complete lack of discord between people with different value sets. Who the hell honestly thinks that those wretched political discussions around the water cooler would get better if, say, President Rand Paul eliminated Social Security or halved the military budget?

    It's one thing to endorse these policies and believe them to be superior, or even to prefer your value system thanks to its having less of a domain over which one must necessarily politicize life -- it's quite another to smugly suggest that rightists and leftists are all vicious dumbasses who would surely be in such stunned awe at the effectiveness of real-life libertarianism, that they will simply cease to express opinions about politics altogether.

    1. That's not the point I get but then maybe it just reaffirms my bias.

      The primary practical problem of monopolistic coercive government is that people who want something different have no choice but to squabble over controlling it. Ford vs Chevy, morning cereal, white bread vs whole wheat, even religion: none of these bring out the same worry, precisely because there is no single government-supplied answer. People can have their choice without worrying that someone else will convince government to take it away.

      Most people don't really care about what schooling other parents want -- but when government provides it, what other parents want does affect everybody else. It's one thing for government to pay for all schooling -- quite another to control it.

      I would wager that most people, from bleeding heart liberals to cold-hearted lawn odor types, would grudgingly be happier in a world where most government functions were hived off to private entities. Even with courts, police, and military staying under government control, getting everything else to the private sector, where competition and choice rule, would be acceptable to most people, precisely because my choice wouldn't affect your choice.

      That's the message here.

      1. Ford vs Chevy, morning cereal, white bread vs whole wheat, even religion: none of these bring out the same worry, precisely because there is no single government-supplied answer.

        The first three are not moral/value issues, and the last (religion) is something that most people don't give a shit about anymore in a substantive way. (Go back 100 years and tell me that religious differences aren't argued about as strongly as politics.)

        Realistically, there is little enough control that an average person has over his government that it is not rational to feel the need to bash people over the head with their politics (even though I do agree that the effect of government monopoly makes it all the worse when contrary value systems are imposed by state fiat.)

        Most people don't really care about what schooling other parents want

        My experience homeschooling my kids tells me otherwise.

      2. I would wager that most people, from bleeding heart liberals to cold-hearted lawn odor types, would grudgingly be happier in a world where most government functions were hived off to private entities.

        See above. My experience homeschooling says otherwise; sadly there are some people for whom individual choice and development is not a high priority, and forced community/redistribution of outcomes is.

        If modern liberal politics have a virtue, it is that most people have enough options and wealth that they will rarely take to violent recourse to oppose an established liberal regime. Arguably this is a feature of most developed regimes, regardless of how similar they are to libertarian politics; I don't see too many people heading to the hills to violently overthrow the economic regime in Sweden and such.

        1. But my point, and I think the point of this article, is that these things matter to most people because the only choice they have is a forced community choice, so they can either submit to your choice or force you to submit to their choice.

          Whereas if there were no government schools, even if government issued vouchers to pay for private schools, people might be annoyed at creationist schools or progressive schools, they wouldn't get into such vociferous arguments.

          Unfortunately, the population has been accustomed to community coercion by 100+ years of it, and the associated propaganda, and most people cannot conceive of anything else, or at least the possibility of it.

          Plus, people may not like being taxed or other people's benefits, but they have so little trust in government that they won't even consider the idea of everyone giving up benefits because they think it's a trick, that others will find some way to keep theirs, and any admission on their part that they would give up some benefits will be taken as a sign of weakness. It's like government budgets based on last year's expenditures, so no department will ever leave any budget unspent at end of year.

  2. My RWNJ BIL told me last night that ALL his taxes went to support illegals and n&%$#ers. And Obama planned it that way.

    1. Try this for a deep dark secret. The great troll Palin's Buttplug? it doesn't exist. I invented it.

      Follow- I'd always love to rile up people, so I trolled and trolled, and put my names on the posts. A normal poster seemed so? normal. So I invented a troll. A decidedly mindless troll. Suddenly there were responses around the block. It was working like a charm. Until the day it showed up, with its empty talking points and horrible smell. And before I knew it, it assumed Palin's Buttplug's identity. Now I do the work, and it takes the bows. It's a mendacious way to live, but as long as people buy it, I can get the job done.

      It never mixes facts with logic. Well? almost never.

      I don't even know its real name!

      1. I escaped the GOP plantation. You can do it too!

        1. But when do they furlough you from the stupid house?

          1. Says the person who thought Warren Buffet owned AIG.

        2. So you were on the GOP plantation at one time?

  3. Agree with the Trousers. This article is rank silliness. People - neighbors and relatives - have always had significant differences in opinion. As a kid visiting my grandfather in South Dakota, I'd hear about those awful Catholics and ridiculous Lutherans.

    If your relatives "ruin" your holiday with their differences of opinion then you face two facts. 1) you are a thin-skinned baby, and 2) both you and your relatives have bad manners. Work on that.

    1. Word.

  4. Father Derp's Holiday Salon-Special =

    Your Holidays = They Oppress Me

    1. I don't think "oppression" means what he thinks it means.

    2. Fuckin' Salon.

      Gabriel 'struggled' with Christmas. I suspect he struggles with more than just that on a daily basis.

      Also, the article he published previous to this one was: "So you lost your dick?": Inside an Ivy league transphobia nightmare

      Ok then.

  5. Father Derp's Holiday Salon-Special =

    Fuck The Grinch = Bill O'Reilly Ruined Christmas

    Because nothing ruins a leftist's assault on Christmas 'capitalist excesses' like someome pointing it out to you.

    "When vast numbers of the public are drafted into the culture war, someone is making money off it. Perhaps those puppeteers seek votes or ratings... but someone is purposely driving the right-leaning political base into ever more hysterical outrage. Tell Americans that liberals, atheists and Muslims are coming for their beloved holiday, and you can almost hear the cash filling Karl Rove's bank account"


    How to Avoid Fighting With Your Conservative Relatives During the Season of Charity and Goodwill = Bitch Endlessly About Petty Complaints

    "Complain about mundane things! Indulge that feeling of injustice about something that actually does not matter at all! Everyone loves to complain! And others will support you in your complaints and then share their own complaints! It is the best, most unifying thing ever. In fact, if you do try to talk to your conservative relatives about politics and end up in an argument, try making amends by complaining together. It might help.

    1. I have a complaint... Individual, ignernt citizens (w/o even as much as any kind of degrees, certificates, credentials, or licenses in foodology or nutrition therapy or food safety or ANYTHING) are DECIDING FOR THEMSELVES what to eat for breakfast! Without putting it up for a vote or asking for the approval of the board, or our morally superior voters or politicians, even! We need to institute a "breakfast commission" and "approved breakfast menu choices" that we can vote on, and VOTE on what to have for breakfast! Then I for one, PROMISE to stop fighting over what to have for breakfast! ? Everyone knows, the more stuff we can vote on, the more that we have "power to the people", and that's all that matters?

  6. I try to stay off politics at all gatherings, esp. holiday gatherings. Exception: My libertarian/Republican buddies, with whom I argue details, not principles.

    As a general rule, I can just lay low when the SJWs around me were boasting of their enlightenment and the wickedness of their enemies, and that usually works unless they try and draw me in, or I slip up and make a joke - then I learn what an awful person I am, but they're willing to forgive me for it!

    1. I, too, am willing to forgive you fer yer ignernt an' intolerant un-belief in Government Almighty... But, Just this ONCE, seeing as it is Xmas Day!!! Happy Holidays, ye unbeliever!!!

    2. I figured out that when the SWJs talk politics, they are really talking religion. While I can't avoid needling them a little, I try not to get drawn too far in. They get indignant at their religious beliefs being ridiculed - while talking in ridiculous emotional cicles.

  7. my neighbor's step-aunt makes $80 an hour on the internet . She has been laid off for five months but last month her payment was $12901 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    website here........

  8. until I looked at the draft that said $8885 , I have faith brother woz like truley erning money part-time on their apple labtop. . there sisters neighbour has been doing this for under 21 months and recently took care of the mortgage on there apartment and bourt a great Honda NSX . this link........

  9. I would like to take this opportunity to say "Merry Christmas" to everyone, especially those working for the ACLU.

  10. Let's have a leftoid Antichristmas.

    "Mommy, why does daddy have to go work for Ebenezer Koch this Antichristmas? Why can't we just go loot his obscene windfall profits, since Santa Marx said that property rights only benefit the rich?"

    "Mommy, do you think Kommissar Yellen will monetize an Antichristmas ham for us on this state-approved holiday?"


    1. "Appropriate remark."

  11. Yeah, this is pretty simple. We have the kids and their spouses/signif others over early in the day. Then we head to my wife's parents' place, with everyone, and her brother and his wife join.

    Know what we've NEVER, EVER talked about in....30+ years of this? Politics. Or religion (except the "hey, we're attending a new church"-level discussion).

    Makes for exceptionally pleasant get togethers. We'll do it again next year!

    The End

    1. You sir are not a Progressive; i.e. a person who cannot possibly keep himself from preaching the Progressive dogma of redemption no matter how unwelcome the conversation or inappropriate the occasion.

  12. I live in a hive mind family...they're pretty far right. The only person who introduces uncomfortable political positions at the dinner table is me.

    At thanksgiving, I brought up police abuse; the family didn't oppose me but they didn't entirely agree. They weren't so stupid as to argue cases like Tamar Rice, but they still have this Boys In Blue mentality that so many others have.

    No matter what Dunphy and his ilk say, police abuse will push the great majority of voters over the edge.

    1. So you injected politics into an unwelcome place like a good proggy. Yaaay

      1. Not at all. My family is happy to discuss politics. There just isn't much disagreement.

        Thanks for making me out to be some kind of asshole though. Merry fucking Christmas to you.

  13. People have always disagreed, and those disagreements have found their way into politics. It all comes down to Force. The amount of Force ebbs and flows. Unfortunately we are heading into a "flow" of Force phase.

    Suddenly I have the desire to watch Five Million Miles to Earth...

    1. You mean Five Million Years to Earth? aka Quatermass and the Pit?

      1. I loved those movies.

  14. I have faith mother in law woz like realy bringing home money part-time on their laptop. . there great aunt had bean doing this for under twenty one months and by now repaid the depts on there apartment and got a brand new Lexus LS400 .
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  15. til I saw the draft which said $7032 , I accept brothers friend was like they say truley bringing home money in there spare time from their computer. . there neighbour has been doing this for less than eight months and resantly paid the dept on there villa and got themselves a Ariel Atom .

    pop over to this web-site === == http://WWW.WORK4HOUR.COM

  16. my neighbor's step-aunt makes $80 an hour on the internet . She has been laid off for five months but last month her payment was $12901 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    website here........

  17. Has anyone else noticed the dramatic upswing in the stupider bot posts in the past week or two? Why does it seem to go in cycles like this?

    1. I noticed its typos and misspellings are getting worse and worse. On another comment section that would probably make it fit right in.

  18. Oh, silly me... and I thought this was going to be a non-political statement making a call for the end of politicizing everything including holidays. And of course it ends up being a political statement trying to convince us to to be libertarians. BAH HUMBUG!!!

  19. before I looked at the check of $5261 , I didnt believe neighbour could truley taking home money in their spare time at there computar. . there aunts neighbour has done this 4 only and just cleared the dept on their mini mansion and bourt Honda . site link....


  20. Just get drunk & agree with everybody.

  21. People also disagree for sport. That's why we have competitive games, debating as sport, & contests of various sorts. Rather than wrangling being a minus, many (especially men) positively enjoy it. If politics had no effect on the polity, they would still have invented & engaged in politics for its own sake.

  22. my friend's step-mother makes $73 every hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $7220 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this web site

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  23. my friend's step-mother makes $73 every hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $7220 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this web site

    ??????? w?w?w.p?a?y?f?l?a?m?e?.c?o?m?

    1. My last pay check was $ 9500 working 10 hours a week online. My Friend's has been averaging 14k for months now and she works about 21 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I

      tried it out


      ??????? w?w?w.?J?o?b?s?-?S?i?t?e?s??.c?o?m?

  24. just before I saw the receipt which said $5461 , I didnt believe mom in-law woz like they say actually bringing in money in their spare time at there labtop. . there sisters roommate has been doing this 4 only about twenty months and by now paid the mortgage on there house and purchased themselves a Audi Quattro . this

  25. I Got Hooked On Having An Online Business Almost A Decade Ago When I Created An Online Course And Made My First.

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