Thinking about Politics

I have almost no interest in politics, but I am interested in our country and society, so I inevitably get dragged into various political topics. If there’s one thing I’m certain of in that area, it’s that most people’s interaction with politics is both harmful to themselves and counterproductive for society. At the risk of making many readers furious, I’d like to share my thoughts on politics.

First, though, watch my favorite video discussing politics that I’ve ever seen. It’s the interview between Ben Shapiro (very conservative) and Andrew Yang (very liberal). Whether or not you agree with any of either of their positions is not relevant. Look at how they communicate. Both are clearly very intelligent, very respectful, and were looking for areas where they agreed. When they came across areas in which they disagreed, they tried to tease apart the underpinnings of why they disagreed. Sometimes they found common ground, other times they didn’t.

I would love to see more conversation in this style. Just how refreshing it was made me realize how starved of intelligent debate our society is. I also found myself agreeing with both of them in ways I didn’t expect I would.

Most people agree that division is one of our biggest problems in society. But how many of us can admit that both Trump and Obama did some positive things as well as some negative things? That’s such an obvious and basic true statement, but almost everyone will bristle at it. If you cannot concede that a candidate you didn’t vote for has done some positive things, and that someone you did vote for has done something negative, you are part of the problem.

The great accelerator of the problem is the media. There is certainly no greater force for division in our country. Today a highly inflammatory headline said that Trump wanted reparations for the investigation against him, and wanted two extra years. It turns out that someone else said that as part of a longer statement, Trump retweeted it, and wrote something much more reasonable about how two years of his presidency was stolen (or, “stollen” as he wrote). When Obama was president I’m certain similar headlines were written about him, distorting his words and turning people who don’t like him either further against him.

These headlines get clicks and reads, but at the cost of dividing people further and making the other party seem like the enemy.

I wish that we could acknowledge that most decisions involve trade-offs and that it’s important to weigh both sides and make a decision with consideration for those trade-offs.

Very few conservatives believe that humans are not affecting the environment. Most believe that the modeling for just how much we are affecting it is not very precise, and that the benefits of easy access to power is a greater net good than the damage being caused to the environment. Very few liberals want to cut off access to all fossil fuels tomorrow. The truth is that we have to make a decision as a society as to how to make the most progress with the least damage to the environment. Painting one side as anti-industry or the other as anti-environment isn’t accurate and stops those conversations.

If your beliefs are entirely aligned with either party, it is very likely that you are not thinking for yourself. There are some themes amongst the sets of beliefs, but they aren’t so closely related that it makes sense that people would be as tightly aligned with their party beliefs as they act like they are. My own opinions range from things that would be considered very left wing to very right wing and everywhere in between. I think that both parties have some good ideas and some smart people, and are generally doing a very poor job at communicating those ideas in a way that would appeal at all to people who aren’t already in that party.

Think independently about politics. Watch media from both sides, if for no other reason that to understand why people on the other side of the aisle think the way they do. Think about why the other side believes what they believe, rather than thinking it comes from malice.

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Lake Mead finally opened back up, so I went and had my Chipotle on the boat. It felt great to get outdoors and just lie around in the sun and put my feet in the water. I had the fantasy that I was going to work outdoors but it was too hot and sunny.

So far sinec I started quarantining almost two months ago I’ve eaten Chipotle for every single meal except for about 5-7, mostly because I went to Austin.

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