Sunday, March 11, 2018


There is always an impulse, from outside of a given constituency, to expect that political "leaders" (a term that I am very dubious of) will educate their constituents on the "correct" way to look at any given political topic, or at least publicly disavow their "incorrect" views on it. But this is a risky proposition for most elected politicians.

Despite a general mindset that views politicians as holding office as long as they wish to (within term limits) or at the pleasure of shadowy "masters" and therefore immune from public opinion, a politician who seeks to educate a constituency on something they believe to be untrue will be ousted in favor or someone whose rhetoric more closely matches people's perceived reality. Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump are both examples of this carrying people all the way to the White House, but even the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders demonstrates this effect.

Policies that do not work for people in their everyday lives will be perceived as bad policies, if only because most people don't readily differentiate between "bad for me and my immediate interests" and "objectively and universally wrongheaded." And it's difficult to tell people that they are unskilled at making that distinction, because doing so challenges their sense of their intelligence and discretion. And to the degree that challenging the virtues of one's voters is seen as a career limiting move, it tend to be avoided.

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