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Old 01-16-2013, 10:21 PM   #1
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Fun meta-politics

Two questions to break the boredom of which some are complaining:

1) Why do people develop the political views which they develop?

2) Why do ideologies form around specific beliefs on seemingly unrelated issues, such as abortion and the debt? Is there something inherent in beliefs about abortion and the debt that causes the vast majority of Americans to believe either in left-wing economic policy combined with legal abortion or right-wing economic policy combined with illegal abortion instead of a different match of opinions on the issues? That's just one example.


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Old 01-17-2013, 12:26 AM   #2
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I'll have a go at #1.

People develop political views based on a number of things. I would say your upbringing is the biggest impact, however. That can be for better or for worse. For example, you might be politically inclined to demand religion if you grew up in a highly religious household in a heavily religious community. Or, if the same situation occurred but you resented your upbringing, the exact opposite would be sought after.

Another really big one is the flock-of-sheep reaction. Often times people follow. They go with what people around them support, and adopt those viewpoints. If you constantly hear one thing about guns enough times and you never hear the other side, you might think that's the obvious answer. I suspect people tend to be less of free thinkers and more of followers, even if it's usually a subconscious reaction.

Lastly I think pride is another really big reason. Something I've noticed is that pride can be the most dangerous of characteristics. It's usually exhibited by unintelligent people. Pride is the hidden reason for justification of underlying political viewpoints that the person would otherwise have no opinion on or not care about. What I mean by this, for example, would be a religious Republican who feels that 1: big government is bad, 2: the 2nd amendment is holy, and 3: everything Democrats say is wrong and therefore I have the opposite viewpoint.

Of course, there's another reason that people develop political viewpoints. Some people actually think critically and make decisions. But not many.

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Old 01-17-2013, 12:43 AM   #3
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I can definitely say my upbringing is very largely responsible for my worldview being what it is, especially in matters relating to financial issues.

I'm particularly interested in the second question in your post there, digitize. When I'm a bit more alert and everything, I'd definitely like to discuss that one a little further.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:04 AM   #4
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Culture is not to be underestimated. Now I can't speak to abortion and the like, but there is no inherent reason why the environmental movement should be a creature of the left (and indeed in many respects their concerns are deeply hostile to the traditional left). But there it is. A massive own goal.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:52 PM   #5
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I'm bored. So I am just going to start typing and hope this isn't a ramble-fest.

The environmental movement here in the U.S. is designated to the Left, aside from caricatured associations to 'hippy-esque culture', because of how it often inhibits capitalistic ventures. In other words, both primary strands of conservatives (fiscal and social) have a reason to see it as an ideological fight. That's how I see that.

1) People develop their own politics from the result of where they begin, what they experience and from there - how curious they are to challenge those beliefs.

2) The conservative ideology here in the U.S. is based upon two primary things that may seem to be (at times) at odds with each other. Individual liberty and enforcement of moral standards that can (sometimes) encroach on others individual liberty. This occurs because if one believes they are ordered by God to uphold certain virtues, it hardly matters if that encroaches on your liberty because it comes from a higher place. At the same time, that individual liberty is also seen as God-given.

That some secular fiscal conservatives are lumped in with them is practically incidental.
They only hijack these issues when they choose to (Southern strategy, etc.) in order to get themselves in office.

In the end, people Left of center or near the center tend to be much more empathetic to others individual liberty via providing safety nets. It's more of an acknowledgment that we aren't all given the same opportunities.

I don't see the debt issue as part of that. I see people that don't understand the crisis of the debt, whether they are self-described Right or Left, as being people that don't understand basic math and expenditure projections.

Climate Change is all about science. You would think it wouldn't have anything to do with politics but it has because of capitalism. The conservative says they have the God-given right to pursue their profits, while the liberal (speaking generally for sake of ease here) is more inclined to listen to the scientists. Whereas there are certain realms of conservatism that defer to God and wouldn't think God would allow us to harm the planet he created for us. So there is a conflation which exists.

And once again it is the fiscal conservatives (de-regulators) that hijack the social conservatives in order to win the politics of the Climate Change issue. Complicating matters is that the other side is ideological as well (see: Al Gore). And so it always fits nice and neat into these partisan fights, because that's how the narratives are crafted by the interested parties. Us vs Them sort of crap. Because that's how elections are won. And that is a good simplistic example of how it takes nothing neither illegal nor conspiratorial to keep it as Us Vs Them. Republicans and Democrats. Nuance is an enemy of these narratives and often seen as a mistake to be pounced on.

The short answer to #2 is because of the nature of politics. But that would have been boring just to say that.

Assimilation of larger groups into smaller causes ostensibly for similar reasons, even though they are different. It's how millionaires and billionaires continue to get poor people to vote for them over and over again. They play into the notion of individual liberty/freedom and these same big dollar conservatives get sucked into their abortion arguments. It's like a give and take, all for sake of politics. (winning elections = money/power). That's how Bush 41, McCain and others magically end up as 'social conservatives' even though you know they don't give a shit about that stuff.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by digitize View Post
Two questions to break the boredom of which some are complaining:

1) Why do people develop the political views which they develop?

2) Why do ideologies form around specific beliefs on seemingly unrelated issues, such as abortion and the debt? Is there something inherent in beliefs about abortion and the debt that causes the vast majority of Americans to believe either in left-wing economic policy combined with legal abortion or right-wing economic policy combined with illegal abortion instead of a different match of opinions on the issues? That's just one example.

For me, I started coming of political age in my midteens during the end of the Sixties and during the Watergate and My Lai hearings, so my political/life views skewed both idealistically and cynically, a kind of split personality. I have vacillated between the two and sometimes formed an uncomfortable marriage between them.

I tried basically to determine what I thought was fair and focused on that. But I’ve been influenced by my friends, the courses I studied, the newspapers I read, the people I admired. I did most often go toward sources that shared my viewpoint, though not to those that shared it obnoxiously and indiscriminately. I did go to sources I thought gave a balanced view when I could. I go to the New York Times as my primary news source although I don’t look at it uncritically.

I think when you begin to define yourself as a liberal/progressive or a conservative or a libertarian, there is often an almost unconscious desire to belong to that club and to fall in line without totally thinking it through. I’ve been guilty of that. I think people will tend to spout the approved line with less vetting when it is about subjects they are not personally involved in, but will be much more in depth and passionate about things they truly care about and things that involve them and those they love and there will be much more nuance and much more of their own language and their own words in their arguments as opposed rehash and repeating of pundits/etc talking points.

I think people become wed to an ideology. For some reason, any deviation from the ideology is ceding points to the other side. The media, the consultants, the experts often have a financial interest in polarization and nurture it and elevate the petty to a big issue. They make it not just a point of view, but a moral view—divide the sides into demons and uniformed naives vs. saints and informed sophisticates. Peer pressure, polarization, limited sources of information, identification with pundits or other admired people who hold a view, repetitive arguments feed into that narrow viewpoint. I also think that a lot of ideology is defensiveness.

Both sides look for information that only supports their side, making them not very good debaters. Good debaters know the best arguments of their opponents, don’t just prey on the weak ones. A good debater knows how to cede a point without weakening their own argument.

I also think Americans particularly seem to have a need to be part of something bigger than they are. I think it’s a little like identifying sometimes overly strongly with your ethnicity. We don’t really have a definition as Americans. We are sometimes desperately looking for definition, a place we belong. And we are trained to see things in black and white. We are raised on political myth on both sides. Neither side has the patience to listen to the other side. They jump on a few statements a person makes and label that person, limit that person, marginalize them. I don’t have the contempt I think many people do toward someone who does not agree with them. I don’t think they are necessarily illogical when they come to a different conclusion than I do.

But I don’t really find most people that I know to be be ideologues. I see movement back and forth between positions. I find a lot of people that I know to be pragmatic, to weigh between different solutions and viewpoints. I don’t necessarily see what I see in the media reflected in real life especially when people shed their political skins.

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