Tuesday, December 6, 2016

don't ignore empathy

screw this empathy thing. just focus on turnout and crush them next time.


Shorter version:


I’ve recently been feeling this futility of ever opening their minds when trying to communicate with my right-wing media saturated relatives, so I was initially attracted to this thesis. But I think it is a mistake to ignore the lessons that cognitive empathy can teach us here.

For example, wealth concentration in big cities is leaving people behind. In order to rebuild the democratic party and earn votes from this new minority, we must understand what is important to them, and from that, learn how best to present a case to them for easing the transition to a new way of living.

I do agree that the tools of the right wing media are formidable. But liberals should recognize that wielding those tools requires understanding and exploiting how people think. Propaganda is a twisted form of empathy. Liberals seeking to capture new voters should appreciate this in order to combat it.

I thought the nytimes article on “equal voting rights” was misleading. If we are OK with progressive income tax, we should also be OK with a progressive tax on rich states. If we are OK with the disproportionate representation in the Senate, we should also be OK with disproportionate representation in the electoral college. It was designed in for a reason.

Perhaps increased turnout in 4 years will be sufficient, as the pendulum of public opinion swings our way. Perhaps this is a fluke minority that can be simply ignored and crushed. I just hope that this valuable opportunity for questioning and for learning other perspectives, which has been provided by the shock of the election, will not be ignored.



Longer version:


I have recently been feeling despair and the futility of ever opening their minds when trying to communicate with my right-wing media saturated relatives. Certainly, millions of people learning to build empathetic relationships with the other side is not going to happen. It’s frankly just a difficult thing to learn to do and succeed at. But I think that “if only we had empathized with them more" is nevertheless of fundamental concern and is the key lesson that the democratic party has forgotten.

For example, wealth has been concentrated in a few rich cities and big corporations as never before. Globalization and monopoly are leaving people in developed countries behind. Tempering inequality is necessary to stabilize a democracy. The redistributive tools that have been used successfully in the past are no longer working to keep people content. In order to earn this new minority’s votes, we must understand what is important to them, and from that, learn how best to present a case to them for easing the transition to a new way of living. That is cognitive empathy. Rebuilding the democratic party will involve both constituents and leaders remembering that empathy is critical to preventing these kinds of calamities.

I do agree that the tools of the right wing media are formidable. But liberals should recognize that wielding those tools requires understanding and exploiting how people think. Propaganda is a twisted form of empathy. Liberals seeking to capture new voters should appreciate this in order to combat it.

Regarding “equal voting rights”, the nytimes article you linked seems to be implying that we should be fighting for either fixing the electoral college by eliminating the electoral votes allotted to a state for its senators, or eliminating it altogether. Both of these seem like poor ideas to me. For one, the electoral college result would not have been different if those votes had been eliminated. And frankly, I see nothing wrong with a progressive tax on rich states, or for that matter, greater representation for less populated states. As obvious as it is to us that the future has us concentrating efficiently in cities, we cannot ignore the people who are slow in transitioning. Second, eliminating the electoral college is the cry of a sore loser. As far as I understand the history, it was not “plotted” but designed in for the very specific reason of checking a tyranny of the majority which, in this case, is us. (It was also designed to keep incompetents from holding the office, which it is indeed failing to do).

Perhaps we can just work for increased turnout in 4 years, as the pendulum of public opinion swings our way. Perhaps we don’t need to empathize with and appeal to a broader base. Perhaps this is a fluke minority that can be simply ignored and crushed. I just hope that this valuable opportunity for questioning and learning, which has been provided by the shock of the election, will not be ignored.

No comments :

Post a Comment