Links and Comments: Politics and Ideology; About Changing One’s Mind

Politics and Ideology:

This theme has been around for some time: Republican economic policies rely on ideologies (ideas about government non-interference, about individual freedom, about the moral turpitude of the poor, etc.), while the actual evidence shows that the country’s economy does better under Democratic presidential administrations than Republican.

Salon: Sean McElwee: Republican presidents flunk the economy: 11 reasons why America does worse under the GOP

The article has graphs and a list of eleven specific reasons — with links to evidenciary studies — about why the economy does better under Democrats.

This aligns with the Paul Krugman column from a couple weeks ago, Zombies of 2016, on this same theme, one he’s returned to again and again, about how the Right’s predictions about (among other things) the disastrous effects of Obama’s policies have not come true.

Consider, for example, the zombification of the debate over health reform.

Before the Affordable Care Act went fully into effect, conservatives made a series of dire predictions about what would happen when it did. It would actually reduce the number of Americans with health insurance; it would lead to “rate shock,” as premiums soared; it would cost the government far more than projected, and blow up the deficit; it would be a huge job-destroyer.

In reality, the act has produced a dramatic drop in the number of uninsured adults; premiums have grown much more slowly than in the years before reform; the law’s cost is coming in well below projections; and 2014, the first year of full implementation, also had the best job growth since 1999.

So how has this changed the discourse? On the right, not at all. As far as I can tell, every prominent Republican talks about Obamacare as if all the predicted disasters have, in fact, come to pass.

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About Changing One’s Mind:

We just heard this show on NPR radio this past weekend, while driving around, though I see the original broadcast was the week before. Anyway, this to me is a crucial topic: do people ever change their minds? Or are we all hobbled for life by the tribalistic ideologies of our childhoods and our adult social groups? Are we an intelligent species, or not? As adults, can we change our minds about fundamental topics about the reality we live within, or does it not actually matter, as long as we survive and reproduce…?

The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind

The prime examples are about gay marriage and abortions. It happens that when opponents of these things talk with a person who listens to their reasons, and that person, the interviewer, is gay himself, or has had an abortion herself, and explains why, and explains how this issue has affected his or her own life…. the interviewees sometimes (not always) change their opinions, sometimes by 180 degrees. The reality of forming a connection with another person with an opposite perspective changes some people’s minds. Not everyone’s. –But enough to swing elections! And virtually no other process — feeding of information, talks with neutral interviewers — has any effect. But making a personal, human connection, does have an effect.

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