Little Minds

Little minds love the simplicity of their ideology, but little minds can’t make anything better either

A crucial aspect of how we behave is motivation. The psychology of why is an attempt to offer rational explanations regarding behavior, which we pragmatists love, but it also reveals that “just because” may often be a significant driving force. The later is obviously antithetical to pragmatists. After all, just because isn’t a well thought-out package of reasoning and conclusion but simply “I will because I can.” Unless, of course, others say oh no you can’t, and have the means to enforce their assertion.

In my last post I noted that conservative believe smaller government is better because…well…just because. That, however, is not actually a reason to reject government policies and programs. It is, however, an ideological “principle” that has other assumption attached, such as how government and freedom are in conflict. Except it is commonly government that ensures freedom and civil rights. Context is thus the essential matrix upon which policies and programs are initiated and funded. Proponents aren’t saying bigger government is better but rather that government exists for the greater good of citizens.

At the end of each episode of Bill Maher’s Real Time on HBO is a segment known as New Rules, with the final new rule being the focus of his justifiable wrath. A recent new rule was “What Would A Dick Do.” He offered examples from the current presidential administration, such as reversing a ban on lead bullets that exists because when wildlife, such as eagles, consume small animals shot with these bullets, they suffer from painful, fatal lead poisoning over time. Reversing this 10-year-old ban serves no purpose, no positive good, so why not leave it alone. Hence the title of the new rule.

He went on to note that a pesticide used on food that is known to impair cognitive development in children, chlorpyrifos, has been in the process of being banned, but the new anti-EPA Environmental Protection Agency chief reversed this to “help” farmers. This is the same individual who says he is skeptical that asbestos is actually dangerous to humans. Really? And then there’s the effort by the administration to roll back the fuel efficiency agreement that is in place to raise the average mileage of automobiles to 55 miles per gallon by 2025, and which all car manufacturers have agreed to. What’s the point?

What conservative principles are being applied here? By doing nothing, which conservatives are already experts at, all of these regulations and agreements would simply have remained in place. Is it about less regulation? When regulation actually serves no purpose, maybe, but all of these examples are valuable and positive for citizens. So the motivation seems to come down to spite, something that doesn’t meet the criteria of rationality. What is offered instead is pseudo-rationality…you know, fake reasons. No real facts and no data, and thus no good reasons.

This is why so many conservatives deny linking human activity to climate change. Not because they won’t be affected themselves but because they won’t let so-called liberals — as if moderates don’t exist — be correct on this issue. War on science is preferable to being reasonable, rational and responsible about the now obvious effects of a changing climate. Fake news isn’t a recent phenomenon…conservatives have been in that business for many years. Their message is shoot the messenger: science, media, liberals.

Completely missing from political dialogue and discourse on a multitude of issues is anything resembling critical thinking. And, while some essayists recommend more dialogue among the highly polarized electorate, there is a critical problem. One side of the divide doesn’t recognize, include or accept the facts and data that the other side does. So what will this dialogue be based upon? Ideology, fake truth and willful ignorance do not represent viable points of view. It’s that simple. Political discourse requires more centrist, reality-based discussion than the conservative side of the divide seems capable of.

A pragmatist looks for solutions to issues by framing the issues with realistic information. What is the problem, what, if anything, has been tried to mitigate it, what are possible solutions and which one deserves more consideration? There are no ready-made, ideologically derived answers to complex issues. They don’t work because they are unrelated to the details, the statistics, the data inherent to the issues. Deciding the answers on the basis of the size of government is moronic and deserves to be shunned. Little minds love the simplicity of their ideology, but little minds can’t make anything better either.