A Political Lesson From The School of Athens

Recently I came across a ten-month old post by George Fields over at The Federalist with the above title; here was the subtitle: “People often assume political stances to feel good and show off, not because they believe them deeply or have thought them through.”

Here’s an excerpt, starting with its section heading:

Identity Politics

Arguing politics and philosophy with most people is therefore not an argument about ideas, but about identity. This is why, when one questions another’s political beliefs, the other person often takes it as a personal attack on his or her deepest self-image. Political argumentation has become, therefore, an entirely anti-intellectual affair; it is nothing more than an assault on each person’s private insecurities.

Some by joining the Tea Party think themselves to be rugged individualists.

A relative of mine who thinks of himself as a scientifically minded libertarian often makes it a point to ridicule the Tea Party movement, although if he were to actually analyze what they stand for, he would find their platform entirely acceptable. When one was so bold as to ask him why he would not join the Tea Party movement or vote for their candidates, despite his nearly complete agreement with their positions, he merely stated he did not want to be part of a movement full of rednecks and creationists. This is simply to say that it would affect his self-conception if he found himself standing shoulder-to-shoulder with “unscientific” people, since he desires to believe he is quite scientific himself. Instead, he associates with the Democratic Party, which professes none of his views on limited government.

It’s a curiosity, yes—people live their lives according to their insecurities. And so, also, do they vote according to them.

Do not be deceived, the voter is not rational, he casts his ballot to assuage his fragile soul.

You can read the entire article here.