Politics

Politics Can Be No Finer Than the Society It Reflects.

We need informed citizens to address the grave polarizations of our times. A considerable mass is required to demand that our politics be ethical and pragmatic.

http://www.google.co.in/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/alan-murray-the-divided-states-of-america-1402528612

Pragmatism implores people to turn to evidence and embrace it. Pragmatism in politics means not letting a particular ideology come in the way of the right solutions. It means going beyond one’s beliefs and assessing things rationally, and devising solutions that work. What does it take to achieve this other than a good state and non-partisan institutions — illuminated citizens, I think.

A well-informed electorate is the unrivaled public good. It is something that the state cannot provide you. Instead, we have to provide it to the state.

Pragmatism has two enemies: ideologies and populism, and each seized its opportunity. Often, the two fused together, becoming yet more potent: once-discredited ideologies refurbished with impassioned leaders peddling enticing new remedies.”, says Paul Collier in his book, The Future of Capitalism, Facing the New Anxieties. [1]

Choosing a party is probably one of the most important political decisions we take to translate our values into policy judgments. Parties are essential because they make decisions on our behalf since we do not have sufficient expertise to take a call on issues ranging from wars and nuclear agreements to oil and gas, all on our own. However, if your country's political system consists mainly of two major parties and their politics is based on misanthropic partisanship, the citizens would often be deprived of practical solutions to their most pressing problems. They end up with the political binarism of ideologies that the two parties have got.

Voters are compelled to choose from the two extremes that have been put on the table. In the process of selecting a party, one ends up choosing an ideology. Some of us find ourselves internalizing that ideology so hard that all their significant political and other decisions seem to revolve around that. Rather than being premised on the contextual rationale, they are based on ideologically motivated reasoning.

Those who do not find any of the extreme ideologies appealing choose to remain out of politics or are sidelined by the system. When you have populists in power, you hear speeches precisely cut out for ideologically stimulated voters. They only get wooed when institutions and political actors take a hard-ideological side and behave polarized, which further polarizes people. It ends up in a loop. Polarization breeds more polarization.

Polarized society unwittingly gives rise to polarized politicians and institutions, which further polarizes the public. All in all, it leads to a cause-and-effect spiral where one doesn’t find a margin to escape because it’s ubiquitous in us, in every aspect of our lives. Most of us tend to give in to the fear of being peripheralized if we don’t attach ourselves to one of the mainstream ideologies. And this process of marginalization usually starts in one’s closed groups.

How can there be neutrality or apolitical institutions where polarization forms the fundamental basis of politics. It is no coincidence that in the U.S. or, for that matter, in Poland and Britain, allegations are being made against experts, courts, and civil servants. Polarization doesn’t only make the lives of the citizens miserable but also puts the nation at risk.

PEW RESEARCH CENTER.

A vast political divide is visible even in matters as scientific as climate change. People's rationalities are dominated by the same reasoning their political parties offer. For example, “A large majority of liberal Democrats (85%) say human activity contributes a great deal to climate change. Only 14% of conservative Republicans say the same — 45% of this group says human activity contributes not too much or not at all to climate change” Observes PEW Research Center.

73% of the American public, according to PEW Research, feels that “most Republican and Democratic voters not only disagree over plans and policies but also disagree on “basic facts.”

PEW RESEARCH CENTER

“We are entering into a period of time when politics is becoming something different, politics is warfare by another means — we don’t want to be killed, we have to survive…I think politics now is winner takes all.”, says Rafael Bardaji, a Spanish sociologist.

Parties are dividing people not only ideologically but also socially; on grounds such as race, color, religion, and so on, which additionally magnifies party identity as it can be felt in every discussion, every issue of our lives. Your voting preference speaks volumes about you. It isn’t just your political preference, as it should be.

“Partisanship can now be thought of as mega-identity, with all the psychological and behavioral magnifications that it implies,” says Ezra Klien[2]. This identity is becoming us. This is becoming our single most identity. If not that, it is definitely becoming an identity that is easily politicized.

Identity Politics and polarisation

The term Identity politics has been disadvantageously used against the minorities who are already fighting for their identity. The depth of minority politics can help determine the extent of individual political positions, whether they are ready for constructive discussions or have taken a hard polarised stand. Identity needs to go beyond politics. It would be when we open ourselves to diverse solutions and not see every decision from the lens of a political ideology.

“If you’re black, and you’re worried about police brutality, that’s identity politics. If you’re a woman and you’re worried about the male-female pay gap, that’s identity politics. But if you’re a rural gun owner decrying universal background checks as tyranny, or a billionaire CEO complaining that high tax rates demonize success, or a Christian insisting on Nativity scenes in public squares — well, that’s just good, old-fashioned politics. With a quick sleight of hand, identity becomes something that only marginalized groups have.”, says Ezra Klein in his book, Why We’re Polarized.

We cannot dismiss and disregard their concerns by making them look like they are self-interested, while all they want is their well-deserved space in politics and life in general. It is an old tactic generally used to make weaker groups’ concerns look invalid and irrational. Minority issue is also exploited at the hand of politicians like the way other partisanship strategies are.

Information Technology and Polarisation

“What explains polarization? One of the most important changes since the early 1990s, when partisanship started its sharp increase, is the expansion of the internet and the explosion of social media.”, say Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, in their book, Good Economics for Hard Times.

The polarization is deliberately created online to arouse people’s emotions. It is moving fast from online platforms into their real lives. If not regulated appropriately, information technology will continue to eat away at a consensus that could form otherwise. Strict checks need to be in place on the spread of information that’s fed to polarize us. To fight the force that divides, we need more innovative ways to form coalitions. We need to renovate democracy for the digital age we live in.

The increase in polarization is not only virtual. It has been observed offline in traditional print media as well, which, anyways, has always been partisan. Fox News, over the years, has attracted more Republican voters, who have compelled the channel to become more tilted to the right, even in their language. [3]

While polarization has generally increased in all ages after the internet revolution since the late 90s, it has increased explicitly for 65 years and older. Most minor increases are for people aged 18–39 years. [4]

It’s difficult to conclude, though, as we can’t speak for sure about the counterfactual. We do not know how it would have been had the internet not been there in our lives.

People will polarise further until they effortfully decide against being divided. Future holds many possibilities; we may see a more collaborated world owing to the global solidarity on account of coronavirus, or we may wind up being more polarized due to fear; fear of losing freedom by losing our glorious perceived political identity.

Even countries that believe in free markets and are a liberal democracy can produce unsatisfying outcomes with tapering gaps between national and personal identities. Political ideologies and decisions thereof shall not become one’s identity. We live in times where we justify anything or anyone as far as it supports our side of the political argument. That has left our politics barren; it no longer has any place for persuasion and compromise.

References

[1]Collier, P. (2020). The future of capitalism: Facing the new anxieties.

[2] KLEIN, E. Z. R. A. (2021). WHY WE’RE POLARIZED. S.l.: AVID READER PR. (i)Mason, Uncivil Agreement.

[3] Banerjee, A. V., & Duflo, E. (2020). Good economics for hard times: Better answers to our biggest problems.

[4] Ibid.

Applebaum, A., Applebaum, A., & OverDrive, Inc. (2020). Twilight of Democracy. S.I.: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.

Albert, B. (2020). The freedom paradox: Is unbridled freedom dividing America?. New York: Morgan James Publishing.

Learner| Researcher| Writer. Writes on Democracy, Capitalism and Inclusion. Fascinated by Mathematics and Mathematicians.

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