Thursday, October 19, 2017

Political polarization

Some social commentators lament the degree of political polarization. But I don't seem much solution.

i) People can agree to disagree when they are free to disagree without that affecting what they do. Two people or two groups can agree to disagree so long as each side is free to act consistent with its beliefs.

But that breaks down in politics, when the disagreement concerns issues of law and public policy. In political disagreements, there are winners and losers. The winners impose their viewpoint on the losers. You are forced to do what the winners mandate. You are forced to stop doing what the winners ban. 

In addition, as gov't increasingly encroaches on every aspect of human life, the losers have too much to lose. The states are too high. 

ii) Democrats/secular progressives/SJWs don't think Republicans/Christians/conservatives are simply mistaken. Rather, they think they're downright dangerous. And that's logical given the (false) premise. If you think anthropogenic global warming poses a threat to the biosphere, then it's dangerous to oppose green policies. If you think private access to guns endangers public safety, then the gun lobby is dangerous. If you think there's a campus rape epidemic, then opposition to affirmative consent policies puts women at risk. If you think LGTB people have higher suicide rates due to social stigmatization, then that attitude puts them at risk. 

They think Christianity is dangerous because Christianity is the motivation for these dangerous attitudes. Their premise is false, and they are glaringly inconsistent (what about Islam?), but their animus towards Republicans/Christians/conservatives is understandable given their biased, blinkered outlook. 

iii) In addition, they think Republicans/Christians/conservatives are evil. They equate voter ID initiatives with voter suppression. That's "racist!". They think the only motivation to restrict or outlaw abortion is to "control women's bodies". 

They equate supporting free speech with supporting whatever the speaker says. If you defend the Constitutional rights of Nazis, you're defending Nazis! They don't differentiate "should people do x?" from "should people be free to do x?"

Given their insular, simplistic outlook, it makes sense that they view the political opposition as evil.   

Likewise, they can't imagine how a person of good will would oppose humanitarian-sounding policies like universal healthcare, universal basic income, "marriage equality". And they make no effort to acquaint themselves with the opposing side of the argument. 

iv) Because humans are social creatures, a lot of what they believe isn't based on reason and evidence, but fitting in. You think, say, and do whatever is necessary for social acceptance within your community. That's why rational persuasion is often futile, since that's not what motivates them in the first place. 

v) Constructive dialogue requires good will on the part of the dialogue partners. If, however, people are only looking out for Number One, then constructive dialogue isn't possible. They aren't truth-seekers. They disdain dutiful self-sacrifice. They wish to destroy anyone who gets in their way, anyone who inconveniences them. Yet the social fabric depends on altruism. And that's a logical position for an atheist. If this life is all there is, why should you ever subordinate your self-interest to the common good? 

vi) Nowadays, so many unbelievers have such bigoted views of Christianity, you have to peel away so many layers of ignorance and prejudice, that it's extremely time-consuming. And they're not listening anyway. Every time you talk to a new person, you have to start from scratch, because they always raise the same hackneyed objections. They don't bother to study the other side of the argument. They don't know the answers. They don't know there are any answers. 

That doesn't mean we shouldn't make the effort, but many people are a waste of time. There are not enough hours in the day to individualize, so you have to make snap decisions about where to invest your time. You can spend weeks and months pouring reason and evidence down a rat hole. So you have to make some time-management decisions. Pick a few dialogue partners. Or use a mass medium (one to many). Scatter seed. Pray that some will take root. We should do as much as we can, but we need to avoid utopian expectations. 

vii) In addition, atheism is evil. As secular progressives become more consistent, that exposes their malevolence and ill-will. Left to run its course, atheism becomes increasingly Nietzschean, increasingly sociopathic in its hatred of the defenseless and dependent (e.g. babies, children, developmentally disabled, elderly). In full rebellion agains the natural order (e.g. transgenderism). In some cases, there's no common ground left. Just their unreasoning malice. They hate the very idea of God. 


  1. I was doing some research on the Lisa Miller case recently, about which I've written a lot. This is the case where the mother fled with her daughter to South America because a judge had awarded custody to her former lesbian lover who is unrelated to the child. Long story. Anyway, I was struck by how incredibly virulent commentators on the left were. They couldn't just say that they thought the mother had overreacted, that she should have been more willing to compromise and share custody, or even that they thought it was irresponsible of her to have fled to another country with a seven-year-old child "just" to get away from her former lesbian lover. Nope. They had to say that she should be in jail for life and so should anyone who helped her. They had to characterize the Baptists and Mennonites who had helped her as a cult. The hatred was palpable. There can't just be disagreement. Those who don't support the "LGBT" agenda are evil and must be eradicated.

  2. They may hate God and Christians, but Trump has now interposed himself as a more immediate threat.