RonO (rono_60103) wrote,

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Meta-politics: Are we blind to other political views?

Meta-political topic

The other day I read a very biased {I think the author might accuse Bill O'Rilley of being liberal} article on the web somewhere {I'm not in the mood to try to find the thing again, feel free to search yourself} that claimed that most of the groups and people pushing for international monitoring of the upcoming US Elections were liberal.

Reflecting on this idea a bit, and thinking about a lot of discussion over the last few years has led me to a conclusion: Many, if not most, people with moderate- to strongly-held political beliefs have trouble grasping the idea that anyone else can honestly intelligently hold political beliefs different from their own. The stronger ones beliefs are, the less that they can truly grok the idea of someone else reasonably holding opposing beliefs. I do not believe that this problem is limited to liberals, but also infects conservatives, theocrats (note 1 below), and probably even my own blend of conservative, libertarian, and other beliefs.

A case in point is the reaction to the 2000 US presidential election. A vast majority of the people who continue to insist that there was serious "funny business" -- and even allege conspiracies -- come from the liberal political spectrum. Many seem to even feel that a close election was the result of some conspiracy to disenfranchise or confuse voters. I think that, in part, many of these liberals cannot imagine that a significant fraction, or even a majority, of the voters might feel differently about many of their strongly held beliefs.

I do know that I sometimes have had this kind of problem. For months I've been figuratively shaking my head trying to understand why a large number of Iraqis would violently try to overthrow an attempt at a democracy -- even one imposed by a foreign government -- to replace it with another dictatorship. My only conclusion was that they could not imagine any other form of government. Perhaps it is just that they really belive that their chosen dictator, albeit a religiously motivated dictator, would be better than a democratically elected, secular civilian government.

I will also note that sometimes I find in my friends the related belief that as their friend I must hold similar political beliefs, when I often don't. At least I know that, provided I don't argue politics, or religion, to personally with my friends, I can keep them and still disagree -- and I hope that most of them feel the same way.

Note 1: Wednesday morning I was watching the BBC World News -- mostly because I was tired of listening to endless analysis of the Vice-Presidential candidate's debate. They had a feature story from Kandahar (sp?) Afghanistan about the upcoming elections there. They talked to a clock merchant who had, and still, supported the Taliban. If translated accurately he said something along the lines of "I don't believe in communism or democracy, I want an Islamic government." Clearly he is politically a theocrat -- and I have trouble grokking his viewpoint :-).

Note 2: Sorry about the long pre- <lj-cut> section, but this one took two paragraphs to introduce.

Note 3: Would you belive that the spelling checker for TextPad doesn't know the perfectly normal word "grok" and its present tense verb form "grokking". I guess I've had too much exposure to SFnal culture for my own good :-).


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