Ezra Klein, a writer for the Washington Post, has an excellent pieceabout political party groupthink. His argument is centered around the GOP switch on the individual mandate, but its equally applicable to almost any hot political issue (and equally critical of both sides). Klein’s basic point is that we, as voters and citizens, naturally tend to simply adopt the views of our political party. This is a psychological reaction called “motivated reasoning.” As NYU psychology professor Jonathan Haidt says:
“once group loyalties are engaged, you can’t change people’s minds by utterly refuting their arguments. Thinking is mostly just rationalization, mostly just a search for supporting evidence.”
This would be fine if our party were pursuing ideologically consistent agendas. But, of course, they don’t. Political parties are designed to win campaigns, not necessarily champion any particular ideology, and as a result, we get stuck with intellectual mushiness on both sides. While we might expect that of our political leaders, Klein points out that the real problem is us – regular Americans – who adopt party orthodoxy despite the intellectual inconsistencies. Perhaps most interesting, this behavior is starkest among the most well-informed.
I would love to discuss this piece more, as it articulates the rationale behind Ruck.us better than anything we could say on our own. Ruck.us, as readers of our blog know, is about helping people move away from parties and just organize around the 1, 3, or 5 issues that are most important to them. We believe a political organizing regime based around issues instead of party loyalties will not just deliver a more rewarding experience, but it will help reform a system who toxicity has almost rendered it incapacitated.
I hope you will give it the five minutes it takes to read the entire piece.