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Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:17 pm
by Scott 2
You have a lot more say over local politics than national. They can impact you just as much. It probably makes sense to pay increasing attention locally, less nationally.

Example - My state recently legalized recreational marijuana. However, local townships determine if such businesses are allowed. My city sent an online survey that got about 500 respondents. The difference between yes and no was around 25 votes. The council meeting then decided policy in favor of the survey results.

A recent school board position was also decided by a few dozen votes.

With that said, I'm also guilty of being a lazy freeloader. In ten years of belonging to a condo association, I've never been to one meeting. That's extremely local politics, which can have huge impact on my life. A recent decision they were considering is - can residents rent their units?

My general strategy had been to live near like minded people and abdicate responsibility to them. As I get older, I'm paying more attention locally.

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:53 pm
by Tyler9000
IlliniDave wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:31 pm
For me it's a matter of not conflating the politics with the issues. Politics are distortions of issues crafted to concentrate power. IMO
That's about where I'm at, too.

Another way to look at it is to evaluate the most "political" people around you. There's a good chance they're intolerable and even more disassociated from objective reality than your typical voter. Do you really want that to be you? Care enough about politics to be educated on voting issues, but care enough about yourself to avoid allowing it to rot your brain.

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:24 am
by 7Wannabe5
In direct proportion to your desire to write complaint to representative vs. fill the giant pothole in front of your house yourself :lol: I strongly agree with Scott2 that local participation is where your influence will be leveraged, even if you are most concerned with issues with global repercussion. Many people vote in general national elections and gab endlessly around the water cooler or pickle barrel. Very few people attend monthly meetings of the regional water board. I think this is because most of us are so mobile, we really only consider ourselves to be global or national citizens. Whereas, despite his high level of influence on international stage, Benjamin Franklin described himself as a citizen of Philadelphia.

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:32 pm
by ZAFCorrection
@iDave

I'd say it's a bit of a mistake to hold "the issues" as separate from politics. My guess is if a bunch of reasonable people just like you and me took over the government in a democratic way, issues intrinsic to human nature and making government work would still result in outcomes that others would describe as politics trumping the issues.

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:09 pm
by zocab
jacob wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 2:50 pm
One should care in proportion to the degree on desires to live alongside other humans in a free society.

Ultimately, a people don't get the kind of government they want but the kind of government they deserve. Imposing some Rawlsian justice(*), there's more to freedom than minimizing one's tax bill. Even if justice is not a guiding principle, there's still the personal risk that one's contact with the government might include something else than just paying taxes... such as getting arrested for a traffic violation (due process?).
I get where you're coming from, but I can only agree in part. What you say is true for real democracies where people can influence outcomes - but that's just not the case, even in most western "democracies".

Example: If I don't like the planning regulation system in a town in Switzerland that I happen to live in, I have an "easy" remedy: prepare some legislation, get the requisite number of signatures from other locals, a vote happens, and it becomes law or doesn't. This is provided for by the legal framework in Switzerland, no random bureaucrat can get in the way or stop me - if I can only convince enough fellow citizens. You, the people, get the government you deserve because you have the power to set the law. And in Switzerland that goes all the way up to a constitutional level. (Some places in the US apparently have similar setups, but limited to the local levels - e.g. there's no way to force a referendum on a federal issue, even though that's probably the cleanest way to get over those arguments around guns, abortion rights, and other hot topics that people keep arguing around for years because there's no body with the sufficient legitimacy to make a lasting and final decision.)


But if I don't like the legislation in a town in the UK that I happen to live in: try as hard as I might, there's no legally guaranteed way of changing that. Maybe you can complain to your representatives, but they can ignore you. You can try to get voted in as a representative yourself, but that's a very indirect way for people to express their views on legislation - and even then doesn't actually give you much control. Even if you convince enough other people about your legislative ideas - then maybe you'll together vote the current representative out the next time round because they didn't prepare the legislation you all wanted, but that's a convoluted, slow and ultimately ineffective feedback loop, which still doesn't guarantee that the next representative will do anything. But more significantly, this indirection reduces how much people will even care - if you can't control the law in a direct and somewhat simple way, it's highly demotivating and probably is the root cause of much of the disinterest in democracy that I see in the UK (and elsewhere).

(Brexit probably isn't a great illustration of direct democracy, seeing as it wasn't legally binding and didn't create or modify any laws, didn't have a clear plan for implementation, would have been ruled an invalid referendum in most countries due to the sheer amounts of misinformation, and was worded in the most wishy washy non-specific way possible making it more of an opinion poll than referendum.)

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:04 pm
by Bankai
I like to keep it simple; the 2 rules are: how much does it affect me personally & how much control do I have. Politics rarely affects me personally (but when it does, I keep an eye on it, i.e. Brexit) so I largely ignore it. As for control, I have none, therefore I don't do futile gestures like voting (chances of my vote changing an outcome of ellections are close to zero do why bother). I don't believe in 'duty to vote' anymore than I believe to 'duty to die for one's country'.

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:54 pm
by chenda
@zocab - Does that actually happen much in Switzerland though ? It has a reputation as a politically conservative country which doesn't change much. Perhaps that is undeserved.

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 4:05 pm
by IlliniDave
ZAFC, I don't hold them separate. Politics IMJ is distortion of issues so they are linked. There is probably some truth to what I consider to be underlying issues being a political distortion in someone else's view. But me getting all wound up in the latest CNN/Democrat freakout (guess it's Ukraine this week) or Fox/Republican freakout (Ukraine too, interestingly, but from the Biden family perspective instead of impeach bad orange man perspective) doesn't do me or anyone else any good.

Re: What's the Right Amount to Care About Politics?

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:38 pm
by Jean
Direct democracy is something you have to earn and defend. Some dudes challenged a very powerfull empire to get it. It was kept trough constant readyness to violence. Rulers Will Always do as much as they Can get away with.