Politics is Please see the following: something, right? All those heated rhetorical fights, stressful Thanksgiving dinners, occasional riots would not only be irrational, but potentially dangerous. Politics should be a worthwhile activity. Maybe it is still. The problems in America’s politics and the sad state of its institutions and policies are a result of a lack mindfulness and skillful political practice.
It’s not controversial to say that American politics are terrible. Americans had been divided prior to Trump’s election, but Trump’s four years as president fueled partisan animosity. Each person has an opinion on the cause. The left and the right both like to blame social media for their problems, but they do so in different ways. Both sides blame traditional media, no matter if it is “fake” news or Fox News. Both sides agree that politics has been broken because of the actions of others.
Social media can highlight political grandstanding and conflict. They reflect the biases that their staffs have. Cable news has largely replaced sober journalism with posturing-as-entertainment shows similar to professional wrestling. However, these are only symptoms and not the causes. American politics has a deeper problem. It is not how it is thought or used.
The unskilled practice of politics has devastating effects on politicians’ quality and the harm they cause, as well as on moral character. Inskillful politics can create a hostile cultural environment that in turn feeds on us.
Let’s begin with some brief definitions. PoliticsIt is an umbrella term that refers to the way citizens attempt to influence government decisions. When you vote or debate issues, it is possible to get involved in politics. All of these activities have the goal to guide state action. This then limits the possibilities available and is the result of other political decisions. How we control the state can be described as politics.
So what is the state then? If you follow the social contract theory it is a tool that we made, or one that was forced upon us. Franz Oppenheimer believes that governments were created as stationary bandsits that monopolized control of a particular jurisdiction. This tool can be used to create rules and solve economic and social problems. This is why the state differs from any other tool we could use to achieve such ends. Its fundamental nature, which involves using coercive power or threat of force to modify behavior, makes it unique. This is how politics works in the end: When we want to change something, politics helps us get the state on our side, then it forces anyone who doesn’t agree with us to follow suit.
The state is both powerful and dangerous. We must ensure that we use every powerful, dangerous tool we have at our disposal skillfully. It means that we must understand the true nature of the problem and what it is causing. We should also consider whether the available political tools can help. Then, it’s possible to move forward with a thoughtfully considered plan. This will allow us to submit it to critical review and revision after we actually see the results in practice. A skillful approach to tackling the rising cost of housing would require a solid understanding of how the market works. A detailed understanding of what is driving high housing prices and an accurate assessment of whether regulations or subsidies will address them adequately, as well as a realistic evaluation of whether other options, like free markets, are better. We’d also like to periodically review the success of our chosen policy changes and to be open to making corrections if necessary.
We don’t. Americans look at politics as an all-encompassing solution and use it often to punish others, rather than to solve their problems. It is rarely given the attention that it requires to bring about positive outcomes. Each of us misuses and overuses politics. Together, they create a dangerous political environment. This viciousness manifests in all the problems that people blame for the sad state of politics.
Virtuous citizens are essential for good politics. Only virtuous people can become skilled citizens. Instead, our political culture encourages vice and creates problems beyond bad policies. Politics can make us even worse.
Imagine a virtuous person. What kind of behavior will she exhibit? Which character traits will she exhibit? Theologians and philosophers have been debating these questions for years, but there is a common ground: Virtuous people will be wise, ethical, and mindful. However, our political world tells us the exact opposite. They provide strong incentives to follow that path, then reward those who go against this virtuous ideal.
Let’s get started with ethics. These are the most fundamental rules for our interaction with others. They were taught to us in kindergartens across the world. Although we must all try to help one another, we also need to avoid inflicting harm on others or taking what they don’t give freely. Both mandates are fundamentally rejected by the political sphere. It is its power to use violence, which gives the state its power. All state activities are funded by resources it has to pay its citizens.
We engage with one another in ways that are not allowed in civil society. Sometimes we hit one another, but at the very least we ask for someone to take our place. Sometimes we take things from one another, but sometimes it’s better to ask for help. Even worse is that we do not approach these acts with an awareness of their problematic nature, or with caution over their misuse. We view all political actions as admirable, and we laugh at those who don’t want to take part. Sometimes violence may be the best option. Our culture views politics not as the final resort, but the first.
Virtuous people will be kind and generous towards others. According to SondagesPew’s 2019 survey found that nearly half of Republicans thought Democrats were immoral. A little more than half believed they were lazy and one third said they were stupid. Democrats are equally dismissive of their opponents: Over half think Republicans immoral and over a third believe they are stupid. A fifth say they are lazy. About 80 percent both Republicans and Democrats feel “cold” to “very cold” about the opposing side when they are asked. This is worsening: The number of Democrats who feel this way has increased by almost 20 percent and the Republicans, 15 respectively.
It’s not just a matter of lack of goodwill in the political realm; it is also characterized by a climate of mistrust. Each side has a greater dislike for the other than an affinity to their own. J.D. (Republican Senate candidate) is one example. Vance from Ohio demanded the Seizure assets of private organizationsSimply because it promoted opinions that he does not agree with. Examples like Masterpiece CakeshopIn this instance, progressives were not content with legalizing homosexual marriage and decided to tackle those who did not agree.
Good people will show compassion and empathy for others. But our political culture is full of indifference. Is there another way to explain disgusting places such as the HermanCainAward Subreddit (an online chat forum for leftists) where they laugh at COVID-stricken conservatives? What else can conservatives use to mock Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s decision to take paternity leave in order to look after his children while he was on vacation? Is there another way to explain how online mobs continue to try to destroy the lives of strangers because someone made an offensive joke? You won’t get much help from people on the opposite side of the political spectrum if you are on the wrong side.
An upright person will be able to feel joy at the success of others. However, our political culture frequently uses status to its advantage. Politics is an exercise in pluralism that replaces zero-sum games with pluralism. Our preferences will be put up for a vote and the results are enforced by government. We can’t all follow our individual paths. This is combined with tribalism and ill will and you can see why American politics is dominated by groups trying to use state power to improve or maintain their status in relation to other people.
Instead of finding happiness in other people’s success, we consider their successes to be detrimental. No one wishes to be in that situation. Lastgroup, then they will struggle tooth and nail for the lowest rung in the hierarchy.
A virtuous person is mindful of her actions and beliefs, and will act wisely. It means being humble and clear in your judgments of others, keeping emotions out of our thoughts, and learning to ground our beliefs on solid foundations.
It’s obvious that this isn’t how people usually behave in political circles. StudiesIt is clear that the purpose of political debates is not to broaden or foster understanding. It tends instead to harden tribal beliefs and make them more extreme.
It is less important to find the truth than it is about being accepted. Our identities can be tied to political affiliations. We’ll share whatever opinions our social circle favors regardless of whether or not they result in good results. We also find it harder to follow our worst ideas once we are enmeshed in ideological conformity.
The political paralysis of our reasoning and judgment abilities can even impact the beliefs we hold about non-political facts. One example is: YouGov pollsters asked Americans for years whether vaccines should be mandatory for children against different infectious diseases. The results were fairly stable with around two-thirds (or 80%) of Democrats and Republicans saying yes. However, 2020The Democrats saw an increase of 85 percent while the GOP’s support plummeted to 46%. It might seem like this is the GOP suddenly not liking the government telling people what they should do. GallupIt was found that, while Democrats who have not been vaccinated correctly estimated the vaccine’s efficacy at 88%, Republicans without vaccinations believed it to be zero.
Therefore, the political environment encourages ethics, compassion and empathy. These problems might not be as severe if the environment was small. The political arena is not small.
Politics is also a product of viciousness and abuse. Incompetent use draws more and more lives into a central political sphere. As that sphere becomes more powerful, it gives us more reasons to spend time in it. While I don’t like hockey much, it doesn’t have any impact on my life. While I dislike politics, it’s something I have to deal with.
This belief is compounded when people believe that politics will solve every problem. You can tell anyone you do not want to take part that they’ll likely be ridiculed for abandoning civic responsibility, not caring for the urgent needs of others, or being optimistic about the future. You can also contact us at DidIf you care about someone, then voting for new laws would be a way to show it. Libertarians favor private solutions more than government fixes. This makes it doubly troublesome. An inventor who seeks out new technology to address climate change is not concerned about wealth-dimminshing regulations, but rather with the future of our planet and the lives of those who inherit it is a monster. Our collective project is being abandoned by the innovator who creates more efficient alternatives to state services that are not performing well. A businessman creating thousands of jobs for his clients is not a good samaritan. He’s selfish.
Recent examples are the calls for a wealth tax, which is one of the most frustrating. According to our sources, billionaires shouldn’t be giving their wealth to charities. They should instead be required to give it to the state. Although the state may use it inefficiently, or even harmfully, this alternative would be allegedly antidemocratic. If you point out that, yes, taxes do pay for some services that help people, but they also pay for bombs and cages and abusive cops, you’ll likely to be dismissed as unserious—though under other circumstances, people would not argue that it’s good to give money to an organization that shelters the homeless but also employs some people who go around beating them up. It’s just 10 percent, so the rest of their work can be considered good.” This would also make a stupid rejoinder. “You have an obligation not to give money to them because they are good, but you need to try and get them to stop beating homeless people.” You have an obligation not to donate to organizations that beat the homeless.
So we now have a feedback loop. We get worse when we overuse politics. We become more susceptible to using politics as we age. As our attention and lives become more entangled in politics, so do the incentives for committing vile and destructive behaviors. This is what happens when you use political tools in an unprofessional manner.
Aristotle believed habit formation was the first step to moral education. It is not necessary to present abstract ideas of what it means to be good to young people. Instead, you need to encourage them to practice good behavior. It will become second nature once they practice it, and then they will be able to see why they were so good.
We can’t ignore the importance of habit by simply saying “Well that’s only politics.” “I behave virtuously outside of politics.” It’s not how virtue and habits work. No matter what place we are, we become what we do. Virtue doesn’t just become vice because it’s in the political realm. The more we practice vice, the harder virtue becomes.
The individual loop can be broken by disengaging. However, this means that the field must be abandoned to people who have less interest in the subject or are not capable of using it effectively. Because of the immense power that politics holds, it is important to pay attention to what politics does. Our misuse of politics can be avoided by learning to properly use it and to only use it as necessary. Although politics will never disappear, we can make sure it is not too bad by approaching it with wisdom, ethics, and compassion.