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Just Something to Consider:

Returning to an earlier point, political power and control are not evenly distributed either within a single political entity or between entities. A few individuals with outsized influence and control have a disproportionate ability to direct the outcome of political processes. Their conservative or liberal preferences can shift political outcomes more to an extreme than would be the case if outcomes were simply an average of the preferences of the likeminded members of the specific political entity. If all members had equal influence and power, political outcomes would be less extreme.

Focus back on the seven questions. It seems unlikely that most people would not be equally conservative or liberal on all seven questions. Rather, they would lean toward one or the other on some of the questions and less so or perhaps in the opposite direction for others. The net outcome would tend toward the middle. Is this middle perspective reflected in the people who represent them in the political entity? Probably. Are the political outcomes reflective of this middle preference? Almost never. Legislative and other political outcomes are usually significantly more conservative or more liberal than most people would prefer. Of course some people will see them as not conservative or liberal enough, but most people will see them as too far from the middle.

An Unexpected Conclusion:

There is no objective truth for any of the earlier seven questions. Answering any of the questions is and only can be based on the values, beliefs, and opinions of the individual proposing an answer. This would not be an issue if civil discourse could lead to consensus action. This is the outcome that should be common if political governance operated as most people have been taught. As seen above though, it does not.

“A few individuals with outsized influence and control have a disproportionate ability to direct the outcome of political processes.” Setting aside the question of who controls the few “individuals with outsized influence and control,” these few leaders have a high vested interest in containing and maintaining their privileged positions. Part of perpetuating their leadership is being as visible as they can, presenting themselves as the personification of conservative or liberal, and – here is the hidden strategy – defending their positions by preventing anyone from usurping their status and positions.

Also setting aside gerrymandering (See Ohio), Three defensive strategies are typical. First, boxing out anyone in the legislative body who disagrees with them. Second, endorsing people who seek to join the political entity. The endorsement is less because of the person’s support of likeminded issues and actions and more because of expected support of the endorsers’ continuing leadership. Third, attacking anyone who seeks political membership. The most typical attack is to characterize the would be member as a dishonest or corrupt person or “Not one of us.” Endorsement means the person is one of us and not endorsing means the person is not and cannot be on our team with the endorser the uncontested leader.

Now focus on the people choosing who gets to join the political entity, on the voter. Why vote for one person and not for another? One might think that it may hinge on how the voter thinks the politician answers the seven questions raised earlier, on the issues. Would that this were generally true but it is not. At lower or less visible levels of government, people are not familiar with most of the people seeking those positions. For example, a minority of voters know the names of more than one or two judges if any in their state and have no idea about how they would answer any of the seven questions. For the few politicians with whom they are familiar, they know little specifics about their positions on issues or the seven questions. What they do know is which team politicians are on and who is its leader.

Here Is the Point:

Politics and political leadership – at least in the United States and likely most everywhere else – is not much more than a high stakes team sport with winners and losers, fans and players, head coaches and critics; and definitely not a game for gentlemen or gentlewomen.

I, as is likely the case for you, am but a mere fan, hoping that my team wins. I hear what they say as they seek my vote, but do not know what they really think about the seven questions or how they will act when decision time comes. I think my team leader is brilliant and your team’s leader is probably stupid. Even so, I am just hoping that if your team wins, we are not taken down the road to disaster.

Be well, do well, and while you are cheering on your team, take the time to do something nice for someone. They will appreciate it and you both will have a better day.