Friday, September 07, 2012

My rules for this election season

Republicans had their convention last week, Democrats this week, and we have another 8 weeks of this nonsense.

It's incredibly frustrating to me listening to both sides.  Not because of the issues per se (although I obviously have opinions on those), but from the whole way the political "debate" is performed.

So forthwith, here are my "rules" for the political process.  I'm not so naive as to think any of these will be respected by any politician, but I think if more people followed them then our system as a whole would work better.  Anybody who violates a rule should have to put a sock in it until at least after the election.  And these apply to people of ANY political persuasion.

  • Don't define the parties by their crazies and extremists; it's easy to find examples of them in any party, and since they're the noisy ones they get lots of attention.  Watch where the decision makers and consensus of the party are.
  • The other being wrong does not make them bad people, nor does it mean they have ill motives.
  • Political truths that were once valid may no longer be true.
  • Political truths applied in one situation may not apply to another.
  • The other side being wrong doesn't make you right.
  • ALL policies have unintended consequences and tradeoffs.  It is the weight of these - not their existence - that argues against a policy
  • Even if the other side is wrong, their points about the downsides of your position are likely valid
  • 99% of conspiracies aren't.
  • Challenge yourself . If you're liberal, watch Fox news. If conservative, watch MSNBC.  If you respond to an issue and know your position immediately without thinking, stop and think about it.  Could you actually argue the other side's case convincingly in a mock debate?  If not, you probably don't really understand it.
  • If you need to make up, distort, or omit facts, your case is weak. 
  • People can look at the same facts and have different opinions about their implications.  (This is, IMO, the source of most political disputes)
  • Don't forward email or post on Facebook without first checking whether something is true.
  • Be skeptical of any data coming from a partisan source; it is selective at best, untrue or misleading at worst.
  • Keynes was exactly right 100% of the time, except when he wasn't.  Corollary: Hayek was exactly right 100% of the time, except when he wasn't.