For most, a mind is a terrible thing to change

East Portico of United States Capitol in Washington

East Portico of United States Capitol in Washington

Lately, logging onto Facebook has been a little like making a daily visit to the hospital to watch someone’s condition deteriorate. No, I’m not talking about cat videos. Even the insipid game requests hearken to a more bygone era of wasting time on the internet.

No, I’m talking about the art of politics as performed by the collective masses.

As this story from Wired explains, “Sorry, your astute election posts aren’t changing anyone’s mind (and people are judging you).”

So the best part about this is that about 30-40 percent of all people post about politics on Facebook (the rest don’t). The same approximate number think posting about politics is appropriate (the rest don’t). And almost no one ever changes their minds based on a political post on social media. This torture we’re putting ourselves through is utterly unnecessary.

I recall when two journalists from Sweden met with me in Hibbing during an election year. They were amazed at all the political signs in everyone’s yard. “In Sweden, we just vote.” Yes, think of it. Research candidates, watch a debate or two, then vote. And then there are results. And then we move on.

Alas, there are billions of dollars of ad revenue and news content on the line, not to mention an entire industry of people who budget for high end clothing dependent on perpetual campaigning.

As someone who has worked in journalism and politics, let me assure you from the inside that the way we do things will not achieve anyone’s political objectives. In fact, we can’t pass a bonding bill in Minnesota or a budget in D.C., even though most people agree that those are things we should be able to do.

I suppose this post is about politics? If so, no matter. You checked out long ago, unless of course you already agree with me. But until we figure out how to make politics more about policy and less about tribalism we’re going to live with an inadequate, ineffective government. Never mind whether it’s liberal or conservative; it just doesn’t work. Everything’s fine for a while, but I wouldn’t want to see 50 years of this. I’m not sure the country can take it.


  1. You started it…

  2. David Gray says

    Part of the problem is the destruction of the federal system of government. Under the Constitution the states had a great deal of flexibility to differ with each other on policy and this had a variety of beneficial consequences. The intrusion of the federal government into realms which belong to the state is forcing government policy into a straitjacket and raising the stakes of federal elections to a point where violence seems almost inevitable. Roe v Wade is a perfect example. Some states permitted abortions, others did not. You could live in a state which reflected your values. The Supreme Court destroyed that with absolutely no Constitutional authority available to support their action. Restore federalism and you can lower the pressure and allow diverse peoples (meaning philosophically primarily, not biologically) to share this country with less tension.

    • Independent says

      Your nailed it!

      • Actually, Jefferson Davis nailed it, and David is just following along.

        • David Gray says

          You meant Thomas Jefferson, understandable mistake, they both precede the 20th century.

          • Sorry David, it’s Davis who took over the mantle of states’ rights and the dog whistle it is for the dark side of conservatism. It was Davis who put teeth in your ideas that states should be able to override the federal government, especially in suppressing the rights of groups other than white men.

            Interested in seeing your reaction to R47 tearing back the curtain on all the comments about states’ rights as far as what they really mean. Agree or disagree?

    • The flip side, David, is that “State’s Rights” was the mantra that kept slavery and Jim Crow laws alive for a majority of this country’s life. Moving state to state seeking values that match your own is a lovely concept on paper, but does not match the economic and cultural reality for many Americans. I was just at a family event here in my beloved state. My relatives hold as many different opinions on the issues of our day as any national poll would discover. And yet, regardless of the election, we will all remain in Minnesota. The country has been sorting by ideology for a generation, and yet this problem gets worse. People threaten to move to Canada if [Trump/Clinton] win the election, but truth is they aren’t going anywhere. You can still find Carthaginian DNA near the place Rome destroyed and very nearly exterminated.

      I do agree that the country cannot stand this kind of ideological pressure on our system. This is the crucible. Either we learn how to create space for our country’s very real differences, or we become paralyzed and vulnerable to separation. But watching the change coming up the generations, I don’t see this country going back to State’s Rights as you describe them. It will be a fascinating journey, though, and I hold no illusions that I’m entirely right.

      • You’re correct Aaron…and someone said recently – “The second term of Barack Obama has been the final nail in the coffin for the legacy of the white males who discovered, explored, pioneered, settled and developed the greatest republic in the history of mankind.

        A coalition of blacks, Latinos, feminists, gays, government workers, union members, environmental extremists, the media, Hollywood, uninformed young people, the “forever needy,” the chronically unemployed, illegal aliens and other “fellow travelers” have ended Norman Rockwell’s America. You will never again out-vote these people.

        It will take individual acts of defiance and massive displays of civil disobedience to get back the Constitutional states rights we have allowed them to take away. It will take zealots, not moderates, not reach-across-the-aisle RINOs to right this ship and restore our beloved country to its former status of Godliness.

        The cocker spaniel is off the front porch, the pit bull is in the back yard.”

        • White nationalism. I’d so glad you’re out of the closet, Bob.

        • Wow!! That pretty much sums it up. Democracy is a really bad idea if it doesn’t protect the privileges of white males and keep women, blacks,Latinos, union workers, environmentalists, scientists, foreigners, immigrants, and government workers in their place.

          I am eager to see how David Gray, independent, and other right wingers on this blog react to R47’s rant, since this is an unusually candid statement of conservative beliefs and principles.

  3. Amen David…

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