It’s not difficult to understand why politics plays such a central role in our lives: political decision-making increasingly determines so much of what we do and how we’re permitted to do it. We vote on what our children will learn in school and how they will be taught. We vote on what people are allowed to drink, smoke, and eat. We vote on which people are allowed to marry those they love. In such crucial life decisions, as well as countless others, we have given politics a substantial impact on the direction of our lives. No wonder it’s so important to so many people.
Politics takes a continuum of possibilities and turns it into a small group of discrete outcomes, often just two -- 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 ..
The black-and-white aspect of politics also encourages people to think in black-and-white terms. Not only do political parties emerge, but their supporters become akin to sports fans, feuding families, or students at rival high schools .. —and the discussions rarely go deeper than this.
Politics like this is no better than arguments between rival sports fans, and often worse because politics is more morally charged.
This behavior, while appalling, shouldn’t surprise us. Psychologists have shown for decades how people will gravitate to group mentalities that can make them downright hostile. They’ve shown how strong group identification creates systematic errors in thinking.
.. politics interacts with group mentalities, creating negative feedback leading directly to viciousness. Politics, all too often, makes us hate each other ..
.. we cannot change the essential nature of politics .. The problem is .. the nature of political decision-making itself. The only way to better both our world and ourselves—to promote good policies and virtue—is to abandon, to the greatest extent possible, politics itself.