The “3x” Rule for Politics

This Post is part of an ongoing series of Political Ground Rules that help each on of us (including me and you) think better about our politics in general.

Every issue is 3 times more complicated than you think.

Even the issues that you think are no-brainers could have hundreds of valid points on the other side.

Every political opinion you and I have are just that, opinions. And while you may have certain facts on your side, the other side may have just as many. Managing the contradictions between your viewpoint and opposing ones is where the truth is.

Here is what usually makes issues more complicated

  • Unexpected effects of policy
  • Inaccurate Money Expectations
  • Cultural divide between people with opposite views

Here is your exercise

1) Pick any issue you have a fairly strong opinion on, preferably more economic ones

2) Find three examples or stats on why your opinion might have some weak points

This should be pretty easy to do. If you’re a lefty go to the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation, if you lean right check out the Economic Policy Institute. You don’t have to read the whole study, you don’t even have to understand everything being said, just find a couple things that aren't consistent with what you currently believe.

From here we can use the phrase “3x, 3x, 3x” as a simple reminder, that the closer we get to finding solutions the less accurate the blanket statements we often use are.

We can all agree on the basic point, for example, that ISIS is bad. But one political group shouldn't get credit over the other because they are able to say ISIS are “evil-doers” in a louder, scarier voice.

There’s this thing called cognitive ease — which states that the easier it is to understand a concept the more likely we will believe it’s true. Psychologists also know that the more times you hear something repeated, the more likely you’ll understand it (and also believe it’s true). So what happens is that we go to our favorite news source and hear the same explanation over and over again. Before long, that opinion is the only side of the story we have any chance of believing.

And it’s not that every issue splits cleanly down the political center. Only that it’s so easy to get stuck in our corners and have exaggerated viewpoints of even basic facts.

Everyone looks at issues from a different frame or lens. You do not get to decide that your worldview is the right one out of hand. So with all policy, don’t forget:

Every issue is 3 times more complicated than you think.