Why Politics Are A Mess

4 Jul

Why Politics Are A Mess

This came out of a discussion with a friend of mine about modern-day politics.

The Right-Left axis of politics is deeply flawed, for any number of reasons, but it will do for the moment. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that a person sits somewhere along this axis:

· Far-Left

· Middle-Left

· Near-Left

· Centre

· Near-Right

· Middle-Right

· Far-Right

Now, the interesting point here is that a person will have a number of different opinions, some of which belong to different points. Bob, for example, might believe in unrestricted abortion rights (Far-Left) but also a complete ban on immigration (Middle-Right). He will be understandably annoyed if you catalogue him as belonging completely to the Far-Left or the Middle-Right, because he doesn’t.

Let me use a contentious example, immigration:

· Far-Left (everyone is welcome, we can pay for it)

· Middle-Left (everyone is welcome, except those who pose a threat)

· Near-Left (everyone is welcome, provided they contribute to society)

· Centre (don’t care)

· Near-Right (immigrants are allowed, provided they contribute to society)

· Middle-Right (strict restrictions on immigration)

· Far-Right (complete ban, plus deporting immigrants who are already here)

You can do this for just about every political issue, if you have the time to waste. <grin>

What you have to bear in mind about this axis is that the middle sections are more ‘reasonable,’ for a given value of ‘reasonable,’ than the extremists at both ends. The Near-Left and Near-Right are practically identical, although they’d deny it furiously if asked; the extremists are so fixated on getting their way, whatever the cost, that they alienate the middle to the point where it moves in the other direction. If you have an argument that boils down to ‘anyone who does not support a borderless society is a racist fascist bigot,’ you shouldn’t be surprised when everyone who isn’t a true believer moves away from you.

But what does this have to do with politics? And Trump? And BREXIT?

Imagine a car driving along an icy road. Visibility is poor. Every so often, there is a brief struggle between the driver and someone else over who actually gets to drive, while the people in the back shout advice and complain (without actually having any real responsibility for the driving). The driver feels constantly on edge, afraid of losing control (either of the wheel or the car as a whole.) And then the car hits a patch of ice and starts to skid to the right.

The instinctive response is to turn to the left, away from the skid. But, counter-intuitively, you actually have to turn into the skid to regain traction and thus control. (I concede, having driving in awful weather, that this isn’t easy.) Once you regain control, you can turn back to the middle of the road. If you don’t regain control, either because you don’t realise the problem or you make the problem worse by doing the wrong thing, you are likely to crash. And the driver will get the blame.

If you see this as a metaphor for politics, you can see that the right way to deal with voter dissatisfaction is to give them what they want. You have to understand why they’re upset, then do something – actually do something – about it. In short, you have to turn into the skid and regain control. If you don’t, you crash; voters desert your party in droves and go to the people who promise to actually do something. Why should they not? Would you want to sit in a car driven by someone who doesn’t recognise a skid before it’s too late?

Instead, politicians and pressure groups and suchlike have tried to declare open discussion of immigration (and other such matters) verboten. And, in doing so, they have made matters worse. Suppressing speech only gives it credence, because it makes it look as though the people doing the suppressing don’t have any good counter-arguments. And this fuels an indiscriminate fear, suspicion and ultimately hatred of immigrants.

Or, going back to the axis, one side drove the other’s near and middle towards the extremists. In fact, depending on who you believe, they manage to drive their own near and middle to the other side.

Looking at the 2016 election, and the BREXIT Referendum, one thing becomes clear. The RNC chose to ignore legitimate concerns raised by their ‘near’ and ‘middle.’ This created a vast number of dissatisfied Republicans who were promptly scooped up by Donald Trump – and put him in office. If the RNC had found a reasonable candidate – and enacted policies to meet the reasonable concerns of their voters – they would not have had to watch helplessly as Donald Trump ‘stole’ the nomination they believed was rightfully theirs. The same could easily be said of the DNC, who rigged the nomination to ensure that Hillary Clinton would win, only to watch as she lost the election.

And this is also true of the European Union and BREXIT. By refusing to recognise legitimate concerns, by refusing to make reasonable concessions, the EU ensured that the voters who were only mildly irked by the EU would vote for BREXIT. And so Leave won the election.

I think this is true of just about every political and social issue, from abortion to transgender bathrooms and everything else. The people with legitimate concerns get ignored, so they side with the extremists because the extremists are the only ones who are taking their concerns seriously. The ‘them or us’ attitude now pervades most of modern-day society because no one understands where the lines are to be drawn. (This is also why Al Qaeda made so many inroads in Iraq, during the war. On one hand, Al Qaeda were a bunch of murdering terrorists and everyone knew it; on the other, they were the only ones offending to defend Sunni communities against their enemies.)

And this is why politics are such a mess today.

27 Responses to “Why Politics Are A Mess”

  1. Billy July 4, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

    Somewhat related:

    On the Tariff issue, here in the USA we (Before Trump) we did not really do Tariff’s

    that is why the big uproar now on Tariffs.

    In the USA you go around to about every town there are factory’s (From years and years ago ) sitting empty because we don’t make anything anymore.

    Not a single TV (As far as I know) is made in the USA , for example.

    The very last Washer and Dryer company was on its last leg – then Trump did that Tariff.

    What we want (The USA and Trump ) is Zero Tariffs on everything outgoing and incoming in the USA.

    If they (All other countries) are not going to do that, then we (Trump) will do mirror Tariffs or if that does not work just hit all incoming with big Tariffs.

    We consume 80 percent of what we make anyway (I saw that on the news)

    I am sure that if most of the worlds countries want to keep their Tariffs way way higher ,
    we (The USA ) wont even notice, because there is always some country willing to sell stuff
    because we (People in the USA) Buy, Buy, Buy

    Or even better if all other countries stop selling to us, we will go from that using 80 percent of what we make – increase that to 90 percent or even higher.

    One thing interesting that I have figured out is if you buy something from china online and they send it here to the USA the postage on that single item is about 50 cents.
    (Something small)

    But, if you were to sell something here to a buyer in China the postage on that very same item would be close to 50.00 dollars

    I have asked them at the Post Office why that is so, and they just look at me funny and they don’t know.

    • Shrekgrinch July 5, 2018 at 5:26 pm #

      TCL makes good TVs. Cheap and made in America.

  2. Billy July 4, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

    On why Trump was elected.

    We (The people in the USA) thought that he would actually do things.

    Both parties were just going with the flow or most of the time anything they did was bad.

    We wanted trump to do things and kick the leg out from under the table and dump everything on the floor and start over.

    That is why he will get a second term.

    Because, all the other elected (And bureaucrats )officials (The swamp) are trying to hold the table up with the same bad stuff on top of it.

    It will take Trump two terms to fix it or at least fix it enough so * We the People can Vote and finish draining the swamp.

  3. Robert Stewart July 4, 2018 at 4:03 pm #

    You are correct that the RNC’s failure to accomplish anything over the four years leading up to the 2106 election provided the impetus that launched Trump. Ted Cruz was the only other candidate who had attempted push a conservative initiative and he was roundly rejected by his peers because he dared to threaten a government shut down. None of them supported him as he entered the final months of the primary even though he was the only alternative to Trump. This provided a better insight into the minds of the RNC core than anything else I can think of. Those who thought themselves leaders of the core seemed to think that steering into the skid was bad politics. Better to crash and burn while sitting in the back seat while wringing their hands, or so they thought. The UK’s May is the same sort of person as those who constitute the core of the RNC. She’s there for the power and personal glory, but has little to offer in educating or guiding your country away from the ditch. Just contrast the nature of your political debate with the writing of Winston Churchill while he was an outcast in the mid-1930s. He saw what was coming, and did what he could to alert the country. Not so May.

    But I think the problem better described as multi-dimensional, meaning there are significant differences amongst those that are typically categorized as Far Right. As Jordan Peterson pointed out at Oxford a couple of weeks ago, those who are philosophically right wing support the notion of the sovereignty of the individual. This is a radical departure from all other forms of government, and it dates back to the Magna Charta. They differ from socialists in many ways, from economics to their understanding of human nature. Thomas Sowell discussed the “constrained” view of the malleability of mankind that conservatives have which causes them to reject the utopian solutions advocated by the Stalins, Hitlers, Maos and Pol Pots of this world. The Far Right socialists tend to advocate extreme forms of tribalism, which are antithetical to individual sovereignty. The antifa thugs are members of this cult, and they are the modern reincarnation of Hitler’s Brown Shirts, although they are so poorly educated they don’t know it. The only question about them today is the identity of the Great Leader who is pulling their strings. There seems to be a race to the top of this dung heap by several charismatic personalities, but none of them so far have shown the homicidal lust that typically marks the winners of the race to control a socialist tyranny.

    Similar distinctions exist on the Left. Union members, for example, often take pride in their work, and they support things like the 2nd Amendment. This is an expression of individualism that is inconsistent with the tribal nature of modern socialists. If you are to be armed, it will be to achieve a communal purpose, not to defend yourself, in the view of the centralists.

    I think a major difficulty that hasn’t been explored is the distinction between being endowed with a lust for power versus having a modest ability to understand and solve complex problems. Our political class is filled with alpha dogs, but they are dangerously stupid. Their temporal horizon is tomorrow’s poll. They have figured out how to crawl and claw their way thru a scrum of their peers, but they haven’t the tiniest portion of the knowledge of the world that someone like Abraham Lincoln amassed by reading Blackstone while ploughing a field (reportedly rather poorly.) And the therapeutic indoctrination curriculum of our public schools makes this state of affairs rather worse.

  4. Lindsay July 5, 2018 at 6:25 am #

    The terms left and right have little relevance in today’s complicated political scene. There must be a better way to describe political positions than referring to the seating preferences in the French revolutionary National Assembly.

  5. Ryan July 5, 2018 at 5:08 pm #

    The increased tribalism fueled by the media and firebrand politicians will lead to civil wars, not just in America and the UK, but German, Italy, and eventually France. People can be pulled in multiple directions only so far and for so long before they snap.

  6. Shrekgrinch July 5, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

    Merkle just caved to the CSU. And now migration detention centers will be ‘built’. At least on paper.

  7. Jas July 5, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

    I thought it was a very straight forward answer – it’s full of Politicians…..

  8. Vapori July 5, 2018 at 8:25 pm #

    well the axis thing is wrong is kinda flawed anyway, I think there are actually 5-6 axis that make up or moral compass and 3 axis that can make a fuller political compass.

    For the later the most used one is after all not just the spectrum of left right but also authority or individualism.
    There are some fairly detailed models like this http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/225/714/4e1.jpg

    or many others.

    The problem with such actions is that anything can be exploited or done wrong, in politics right and wrong are often very dependent on the mood or or the moment and many voters will shift depending on the news they get.

    An example the icy road Merkel drove when, the refuge or imigration crisis started shifted left.

    There were news broadcasts a few day before showing a drunken child washed ashore on it’s way to europa, a few weeks before Merkel had been blamed for make a youth who had to go by law cry when she told her that her family would need to leave if the time came.

    And ten just before she opted to open the boarders there were frequent knews on badly traited refuges in east europa and the siege of alleopo was underway.

    the population leaned left, ten she let the refuges/imigrants in and had 4-6 weeks of sky-rocking approval ratings up to 86 or so % of any leader in the west for ages then problems and counterarguments sprang up, people told her that they would be hard to assimilate or integrate. and they plunged down again till she reached her lowest approval rating.

    To continue with the road of ice picture you used to describe politics, she basically followed your advice only to commit to the move.

    Of course hindsight being a thing it’s easier to point mistakes out afterwards still i know lots of people who said on the day that the boarder was opened that they felt no ill to the Immigrants themself but that she was being to open at that moment.

    More often then not, politicians make another major mistake, hey drive on the road with bad sight but they still can listen to radio, only they mostly try to listen to good music (making fair weather politics in good times and don’t try to rock the boat) when a roadblock is broadcasted they tune it out. and miss their actual target becasue they didn’t look on the map before.

    The Immigration crisis was a failing that some reports of offical side warned about years in advance Not the time and day when it would happen, but that it would happen.

    Same with brexid and maybe to a lesser extend Trump.The Brexid referendum was basically meant to fail.

    Cameron deciding on a referendum while promising that he would get the EU to behave the way he wanted that way while the UK already had by the most favorable deal, when compared to other member states in the same economic position, was basically asking to have his ass kicked, even when it was a fairly close call it was a very risky move that failed.

    there are some other bigger problems still looming and doing so knowingly for almost 25 to 35 years by now.

    And still politicians around the globe and in the most affected countries so far mostly failed to counter them.

    For example Japan Germany Italy Spain the UK and many other states will have some form of state pensions for the Eldery this system was mostly fine as there were few elders, but ones the baby boomers go home from work for the last time, the cost for pensions will explode while fewer people will be there to pay for that support.

    The solution for those problems are quite numerous, for ones you can address it early on and pay big in child support so that our birthrate per woman stays stable. France did that, but for all countries named earlier, it’s to late to do so now.

    That leaves later retirement, pension cuts, paying ones obligations with debt, or tax payers money or hopping for a big economic upswing when the time comes. Obviously all named countries or at least their politicians go with the later because all they did so far is a bit of word dressing and some minor laws that won’t stand a chance to address that challenge.properly.

    and there are a few other difficulties ahead, that could have been easily avoided but few countries did so far.

  9. Dani July 6, 2018 at 2:39 am #

    The turn-into-the-skid analogy is a bit messy: Turning into the skid means turning the steering wheel in the direction the *rear* of the car is moving. From the perspective of the driver, facing front, you are doing the intuitive thing and steering to straighten the car. (Where the analogy has some traction is that it’s a mistake to use the brakes.

    Representing political stances in terms of a single left-right axis is unfortunately realistic. In the US, if you assign congressmen a simple single-axis score (0 and 100 being most extreme), that score correctly predicts about 95% of their votes. Longitudinal research by Keith and Rosenthal indicates that this has been typical for a couple of centuries. (It’s not always the same axis. At one point it was slave-vs-free – but where you were on the axis still accounted for almost all of your voting behavior.)

    Sometimes an issue arises that has bipartisan support – but if it isn’t resolved quickly, it gets subsumed by the dominant axis. That’s how the Equal-Rights Amendment lost traction in the US, for example.

  10. Billy July 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm #

    I was thinking it ( Brexit ) would be like when we Vote (In the USA)

    Usually, we vote on something the first part of November and then everything goes in , in January.

    I thought that would happen on that Brexit and then Trump would say zero Tariffs on everything thing we sell to you and zero Tariffs on everything you buy from us and all kinds of good stuff.

    What I see on the news is the Swamp is even worse over there.

    Even all those other countries have their threats if you do that with Trump then we will
    do everything to bring you down for daring to do that Brexit !

    They keep saying things like * Let’s Re-Vote on Brexit,
    that the people who voted were not very smart, that they did not know what they were doing.
    And the Swam says that they want to delay it for a few decades so that they can somehow get out of it. (And the bureaucrats are doing like the Trump/Russia thing doing everything that they can to destroy Brexit )

    My own personal opinion is if somehow the Swamp actually destroys Brexit that we may see the people Vote by the same way the French did when that Lady said * Let them eat cake !

    That did not turn out well for the Swamp then.

    Hopefully they do the will of the people

    At least that’s what I see from way over here on the other side of the planet.

    Could be wrong.

  11. Ron July 6, 2018 at 6:56 pm #

    > If you see this as a metaphor for politics, you can see that
    > the right way to deal with voter dissatisfaction is to give them what they want.

    Really ? That’s an open door to dictatorship by a majority.
    Typical example: in France we had a fortune tax. People with a fortune of more than 1.3 million euros paid a yearly tax of the order of a percent.

    Only 1% of the French paid this tax, 99% didn’t.
    75% of the French were in favor of this tax, a tax THEY didn’t pay, but which caused each year 5000 Frenchmen to simple leave the country. With their assets.

    The tax was only abolished when one politician stood up and explained why this tax was so bad for France.

    IMO part of a politician’s job is to figure out and explain what in his view, is good for the country. And that’s not necessarily what the often dumb majority wants.

    • peke July 6, 2018 at 9:18 pm #

      A poor choice of words to be sure. Reading the whole post, I think what he actually meant was “address their (the people’s) concerns”

      • chrishanger July 16, 2018 at 12:24 pm #

        That’s correct. Sorry.


  12. Billy July 7, 2018 at 12:18 pm #

    Something I just discovered within the last couple days

    I was waning to get a feel of what Political Signs are like in other countries.
    (Besides the USA)

    Are they different or what ?

    So I do a few image searches on google for examples of Political Signs in English speaking countries. (Supposed to be free places like here – USA allies )

    I came up empty because they are practically non existent. It shows a few plain generic yard signs then it pulls up signs from here (USA)

    Or at least so, by my searches.

    No wonder there are millions of people beating at our boarders trying to get in any way they can.

    Wow is all I can say


    Maybe they just don’t show up in my searches ?

    I will keep looking for examples.

  13. Big Ben July 7, 2018 at 6:07 pm #

    By the time you have to “turn into the skid,” you’ve already proven that you’re terminally stupid.
    What are you doing with a carload of people on an icy road?
    Oh crap, you’ve turned into the skid all right … now you’re half-sideways across the road and Oh! Look! You’re half a second away from getting pancaked by an oncoming eighteen wheeler.
    It seems that politics has become “Rule By the Squeaky Wheel.” Whoever complains the loudest gets the attention … or a face full of grease.
    Mob rule, in other words. Gimme gimme gimme, or we’re gonna smash your windows and take it.

    As for Trump, only a very small percentage of his base (the One Percenters) has gotten anything he promised.
    A trillion dollars of infrastructure investment? Nope – tried and died at least twice.
    A free border wall that Mexico payed for? Nope – but the American taxpayer has forked over several billion so far.
    Immediate repeal of Obamacare and quality, affordable healthcare for all? He promised that dozens of times … and has achieved nothing but higher premiums.
    Tax cuts? Sure, but now we’re in a global trade war that will make thousands of products more expensive. Tariffs … something to spend your tax savings on.
    Oh but wait … the deficit and debt. Didn’t the Republicans used to care a whole lot about that when it was the Democrats spending our children’s and future generations money?

    Drain the swamp? It’s filthier than ever … at least that EPA idiot is finally gone, but now they say a former coal industry LOBBYIST is getting the job. Just who a rational fellow wants protecting the environment.
    At least North Korea and Russia are pleased with Trump, even while every single one of our traditional allies watch in disbelief as Don yanks the wheel hard over and slams the throttle to the floor.

    Paris climate deal – gone, much to the dismay of 100% of our allies, who are sticking with it.
    TPP – gone, much to the dismay of our Asian allies, who are sticking with it.
    Iran nuke deal – gone, much to the dismay of our European allies, who are trying to stick with it.
    NAFTA – on life support.
    NATO – may not be far behind.
    Why would any rational nation enter into any agreements with us, especially with the Dealbreaker In Chief at the wheel of our out of control car?

  14. Brian July 9, 2018 at 8:45 pm #

    George W Bush originally campaigned on being a centrist who can work with both sides. Obama originally campaigned on bringing Change to DC and working with both sides. Trump campaigned on being a deal maker (Art of a deal). Yet none of them ended up making deals with the other side and trying to go it alone.

    • Sprout July 10, 2018 at 1:07 am #

      None of them work with the other side because they can’t. The political hackery in the US has achieved such critical mass that giving it to the other side is more important than actually governing the nation.

      The only thing the two parties can agree on, literally, is increasing the military budget and providing kickbacks to their donors.

  15. andreas July 10, 2018 at 1:23 pm #

    Giving into the the demands of right-wing extremists will not satisfy them, they will just go more extrem and it will strengthen rhe right-wing-extremist party. By giving into the demands of Nazis, you legitimazie their facist ideology. It happens now in Germany. CDU und CSU (governing party) go more and more to the right and strengthen the Nazi-Party AfD in Germany by it. Giving into the demands of Nazis doesn’t hurt Nazis, it makes them strong. Its how Hitler become Reichskanzler, its how Front National got strong, its how the Brexit happend, because supposeldy moderate conservatives gave into the demands of the right-wing extremists. Its the moderate conservatives that makes the Nazis strong. That happen before 1933 in Germany, it happens in the US, where the Republican Party is following the right-extremists Tea Party, it happend in the Netherlands and so on. If you want to stop right-wing-extrimists (which every sany person should want), you need to isolate the nazis, never give in to their demands and fight them whereever the show themselves so the crawl back in the holes they come from. If every sane Person does that, no rihgt-wing-extremist has a change to get a foothold into society.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 10, 2018 at 1:34 pm #

      Thank you Sir.

      You’ve just gave another reason that “Politics Are A Mess”.

      IE Labeling the Opposition as “Hateful Extremists”.

      IMO The terms “Nazi” and “Fascist” have been so over used in US Politics that they have lost any real meaning.

      By the way, I’m not claiming Conservatives like myself are perfect in this regard but when Conservatives get called Nazis/Fascists by people who don’t appear to have any real understanding of the historical meanings of the terms doesn’t give me reasons to be “nice”.

      • andreas July 10, 2018 at 3:01 pm #

        I talked about the AfD in Germany, the Tea Party in the US, Front National and other right-extremists partys and coalitions. If you don’t see these people as Nazis or Facist, you are part of the problem.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 10, 2018 at 3:40 pm #

        I don’t know the foreign groups, but the Tea Party Movement was only “Fascist” in the minds of the Left.

        So I’ll say that you are part of the Problem.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm #

        What is Fascism? What is Nazism?

        IE What are the positions held that an educated person can point to that shows that a group is a Fascist group or a Nazi group?

        Extra points if you can show the difference between those groups and a Communist group especially the positions held by a Communist country.

      • andreas July 10, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

        Tea Party officals posted the home adress of democratic lawmakers online and told their people to drop by to express their anger, which lead to cutting gas lines on one of the homes of a democratic lawmaker by tea party followers. Here are much more examples: https://waymonddh.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/the-tea-party-republicans-the-new-fascist-movement-of-america/

        And simply said, from a european view point all US partys are on the right end of the political spectrum. The Democrats are middle-Right, Bernie Sanders maybe the centre, the republicans are far right and inside the Reps are the likes of the Tea Party which are the extreme right.
        Even the German right-wing conservative party, the CDU, would be in the Eyes of the republican americans a socialist party or would even say, that Germany is a socialist country, which is crazy. I’m member of a real socialist party and I can tell you, it’s not.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 10, 2018 at 8:25 pm #

        That was from a “Liberal” site and in the US “Liberal” sites are always claiming that the “other side” are Right-Wing Fanatics.

        I’ll repeat my earlier response to your post “what political positions make a group Fascist/Nazi”.

        Oh, by the way there are people going around harassing/attacking their Political Opponents here in the US but they call themselves AntiFa (Anti-Fascists) and are associated with the Democratic Party and other American Leftish groups.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 10, 2018 at 8:30 pm #

        The Fun And Games, especially when talking to Europeans, I don’t know what “Right Wing” really means.

        In France where the terms “Right Wing” and “Left Wing” started, the “Right Wing” was supporters of the King & the Nobility which is meaningless in America.

  16. Billy July 10, 2018 at 2:02 pm #

    What I am reading on the News is that the government over there is acting like the Vote on Brexit did not mean anything. (The Swamp Government knows more than the peasants at least in its own opinion)


    A question to ponder is if Voting is meaningless why not go back to the old way and give the power back to the King / Queen system with the round table and all the knights sitting around it ?

    If the peoples Vote is meaningless

    At least having the King/ Queen make the rules is more entertaining

    Modern example :

    Trump 🙂

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