Dangers of Partisanship

What is a democracy? What is a political environment? It is a place where different personality types fight out among each other how to run things. Since your personality has biological roots in its formation, both at the start and developmentally speaking, talking to someone in another political party can be very frustrating because you are essentially trying to rewire their brain.

There are legitimate reasons for viewing the world from a right or left wing perspective. Take capitalism. Has it created suffering? Yes. Has it created prosperity? Yes. Has it created an economic system where people can take advantage of others? Yes. Has it created an economic system that raises the standard of living where it is practiced? Yes. (Similar things can be said about agency, and I can imagine the attacks levied by the opposition to its implementation in the mortal part of the plan.)

The dangerous thing about partisanship is that it feeds pride. The pride starts when one says “My side is always right, there is no reason to view the world from another perspective.” Even for the temperamentally liberal types who are open to new ideas struggle with this, though they pride their side on being open. Little needs to be said for those who are temperamentally conservative. Of course they are going to stick with their pre-conceived notions more often than not. And who is right in their navigation in the world? The ones who are open to information, or the ones who stick to tradition? The answer is both.

This can sum up the warning to both sides: all progress is change, but not all change is progress.

There are strengths and weaknesses to both sides, just how there is a strength and weakness attributed to each personality trait. This is because political attitudes are linked to personality traits. The Big 5 personality theory is the best accepted theory in academia, since it was derived from statistical analysis. So often one side calls the other stupid for interpreting a set of facts differently. More on this theory here: link

People are tribal, this can be seen in the annual ‘holy war’ between BYU and Utah. People want to belong in a tribe, and feel superior to the others. This can translate into the political landscape by creating the presupposition of superiority of one’s own tribe. How they interpret new information will either fit or reject their notion of superiority. Even neutral facts will be interpreted as a ‘win’ for one’s own team.

Logic is a tool to reinforce what is being felt. This is what world renowned moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt explained in his book “The Righteous Mind”. If you say “OK the other side is obviously wrong about this one, now how are they wrong about this fact or situation is what I need to find out.” You ask a question, your logic will find an answer.

If this isn’t bad enough, once your logic provides you with a reason to feel morally superior to another, your brain gets a shot of dopamine. You’re literally getting yourself addicted to seeing others as inferior. And your brain will want to feel superior all the time, so it will want you to interpret ALL situations as the other side representing moral degeneracy. Leave the question of whether a fact is objectively right or wrong, the mindset of moral superiority is what polarizes people. This happens both in and out of the political realm. Pride destroys families by first destroying dialog. We are seeing the dialog of our country destroyed by this (especially since the vast majority of mainstream media outlets are tilted to the left, and it will only get worse as students majoring in journalism are only coming from one side of the isle, and representing only one faction of the personality types). Polarization is amplified by the formation of echo chambers on social media. People follow the accounts that agree with their views, feeding their confirmation bias and thus providing their brain with the dopamine it craves, along with the feeling of moral superiority.

What one should ask themselves is what are the blind spots of their personality, then not assume omniscience in the political sphere. You should always ask yourself, what does the other side know that I don’t? (And you have to really want an answer, otherwise your pride blocks you.)

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