Rebirth of Reason

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Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 4:40amSanction this postReply

Thank you, Joseph, for an excellent analysis.  I wanted to vote more than once for this. Your essay was cogent and concise. Allow me to suggest that if you bolster this with polls from Gallup and others, it would be great for JARS, Reason, or Cato.  


It is fundamentally challenging to reconcile political involvement with selfishness. That is why many Objectivists and libertarians do not vote, join the LP or GOP, or (for that matter) run for office.  It is always action at a distance. I look to the inverse-square law: the farther you are from something, the less you know - and the less you control - by the square of the distance.  


I vote. I always vote locally. Several times in quadrennials I left the President and Governor unvoted. My vote does not count for much. At the precinct level, it counts for more. However, it is still e pluribus unum: just one out of many...

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Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 10:36amSanction this postReply

Joe, I don't often agree with Marotta, but I do this time - that's an excellent article.


Politics is about joining the side whose moral tenents are closest to ones own, and in today's world that means Altruist Team A, or Altruist Team B.  And that selection, in effect, is choosing the kind of sacrifice they will make (that is a great observation on your part - that seriously intentioned votes for a liberal or for a conservative are willing sacrifices being offered - not self-interest).


What kicks in after a person sides with a team is an emotional intensification - competition and team rivalry set in.  (It is funny to think of it as a fierce competition to get to be one the side making the sacrifice, but, of course, that isn't the way it is seen or felt.)  It is as if campaign managment is about who best manipulates the fight/flight responses of those they get to join their team to rev up the team spirit.  The people are acting altruistically when they vote, while the politicians, who have been preaching altruism of some sort or another, are actually the only group using the process to get their hands on the un-earned.



If altruism is the motivator, then it must be tackled head on. You can't expect people to stand up for their own rights when they feel that they should be sacrificing for the sake of others.


Well said!  There is no short-cut.  It is still the education of the electorate that is the only path to achieving sane political change.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 2:17pmSanction this postReply

Thanks Steve and Michael.


I read an analysis of this topic that hit some of your points.  As Michael pointed out, the practicality effect of voting is near zero.  Your vote basically doesn't matter in terms of deciding the winner.  But your vote does have one significant effect.  It can make you feel like a good/moral person.  That not only drives people to vote (I'm doing my duty!), but it drives their choices (I want to help the environment, unlike those other selfish bastards who love to drink polluted water!).  The analysis suggested that people vote against their own interests (either real or perceived) because there's no real cost (their vote doesn't matter), but they can gain the feeling of moral smugness.  And an Objectivist might add that the fact that they are voting against their own interests gives them even more moral smugness because of the sacrifice.  And of course, no actual sacrifice is necessary in order to achieve this feeling of superiority.  The mere fact that you are claiming to want to sacrifice for the stated goal is enough to claim moral superiority.


Steve, the emotional high from "your team" winning is another powerful motivator, so thanks for pointing that out.  Much of the reason people support positions or candidates is because it shows support for their team.  And that leads to all kinds of irrationality.  Unfortunately, I've witnessed this among Objectivists and libertarians as well.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 3:59pmSanction this postReply



Much of the reason people support positions or candidates is because it shows support for their team.  And that leads to all kinds of irrationality.  Unfortunately, I've witnessed this among Objectivists and libertarians as well.


So true.


A broader or different perspective on "team support" is about identity as a source of motivation.  We all have built a complex, inner sense of who we are - sometimes much of that is based upon what we admire, but it can also be 'peer pressure' (fear of being seen as an outsider), or it can be built out of compensation for other insecurities, hurts, or angers, or a joy of being with others who we like.  And our actions won't stray far from what our identity calls for.  I suspect that most of our motivation comes from this.  We can, and often do, take a pause and think about options we could take, but whatever identity we've built will be pushing its emotional influence. 

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Friday, December 4, 2015 - 4:49amSanction this postReply

Not that it's a criticism on the main point of your article, but I don't think the Right doesn't want less wealth redistribution, they just want the money to go towards the military instead of the poor.


Not that it really matters who gets elected from the two choices the powers that be give us, either choice results in the same.


The dupe is they convince the public that they are legitimate and performing the publics will since "we" voted for them, even though we were given a false choice.


I'd like to see what would happen if we had preference/rank voting instead.  But even then I would still expect the powers that be to use the media to front run their choices, and for the unthinking masses to latch on to their political pop stars rather than choose candidates based on reasoned philosophy.

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