What’s troubling about politics from a moral perspective is not that it encourages group mentalities, for a great many other activities encourage similar group thinking without raising significant moral concerns. Rather, it’s the way politics interacts with group mentalities, creating negative feedback leading directly to viciousness. Politics, all too often, makes us hate each other. Politics encourages us to behave toward each other in ways that, were they to occur in a different context, would repel us. No truly virtuous person ought to behave as politics so often makes us act.
I think that's a fair point, that the essay makes other fair points. But I also think it's missing context, as it fails to account for how the world has changed. The consequences it notes are also a product of increased leisure time, and of things like the internet, social media, and 24-hour news.
Politics takes a continuum of possibilities and turns it into a small group of discrete outcomes, often just two. Either this guy gets elected, or that guy does. Either a given policy becomes law or it doesn’t. As a result, political choices matter greatly to those most affected. An electoral loss is the loss of a possibility. These black and white choices mean politics will often manufacture problems that previously didn’t exist, such as the “problem” of whether we—as a community, as a nation—will teach children creation or evolution.
In the long run, reality wins, which means evolution wins. Ironically, it's part of the natural evolutionary process, expressed at the societal level. Government control short-circuits that process. I guess we're lucky, in this country at least, that so far more than 50% of our "representatives" still believe in science. I'm not really down with the idea that could change, and then so would government-approved textbooks. Are you?
Every issue which falls under the purvey of government becomes an "us vs them" issue, deepening the divide between individuals of different teams.
Every issue which falls under the purvey of government leads to a "one size fits all" solution. Regimentation becomes the order of the day.
Every issue which falls under the purvey of government thenceforth moves forward at bureaucratically-throttled, special-interest controlled, government-approval speed. If the special interest is powerful enough, the future is crippled or stillborn at the hands of the regulators they own.
Every issue which falls under the purvey of government is forced into one of two channels, dependent on the party in power. What if the issue is really a marshland, where subjective solutions are all over the map?
The fewer the issues in the hands of government (and their allies, government-created corporations), the less there is acrimony in the streets, the more future possibilities are allowed to express themselves and live or die on their merits, the better limited resources are allocated, the better society is able to function as the evolutionary organism is is.
The inverse is necessarily true.
And, as the article goes on to point out:
"Once decisions are given over to the political process, the only citizens who can affect the outcome are those with sufficient political power. The most disenfranchised minorities become those whose opinions are too rare to register on the political radar. In an election with thousands of voters, a politician is wise to ignore the grievances of 100 people whose rights are trampled given how unlikely those 100 are to determine the outcome."
____________________________________________________ Economics puts parameters on people’s utopias. ~Peter Boettke "It's the voter's fault" is victim-blaming in its purest sense. ~Don The 'social contract' is to the politician what 'original sin' is to the priest. ~Don The vision of the helpful and protective state is the most pervasive and counter-productive ideology in the world today. ~Don ____________________________________________________