Select Page

Why The Political Divide Will Never Close

Why The Political Divide Will Never Close

I wrote this a while back but every day it seems to get more and more pertinent, with the twin lunacies of Brexit and Trump being at the forefront of the minds of people in at least Anglosphere if not globally.

The people opposed to Brexit and Trump usually feel like they are banging their heads against brick walls. No matter what rational statement is made, it is instantly dismissed. With Trump it’s all “deep state conspiracy”; with Brexit, it’s simply “traitor”.

Apparently there are three topics you should never discuss in polite company, religion, politics and money.

The obvious reason for this is because of the emotions that become involved once people discuss these topics. People think they’re being rational about their own views and that the other person is an idiot if they can’t see that their point of view is the correct on.

One of the big reasons for this is that the part of the brain that handles decision making also handles emotion. It’s one of those evolutionary accidents that happen. What this means for our points of view is that we tend to think that they are completely rational when we in fact have an emotional basis for our beliefs and the rationalise our beliefs after the fact.

An observation I have made in the past is that there seems to be a divide in those people whose beliefs are largely emotionally based and those who are evidence based. An example is with religious people vs atheists. The religious person goes, “I believe in god because I just feel the holy spirit” The atheist goes, “where’s the evidence that what you feel is in fact the holy spirit?”.

But now new research has come out that explains the divide, when it comes to conservatives vs progressives, may be completely impossible to close. It turns out that the actual structures of the conservative brain and the progressive brain are different. In particular the amygdala, the fear centre of the brain is larger in conservatives. In progressives the anterior cingular cortex, an area of the brain that helps people cope with complexity is larger.

Wow, that really is an intractable problem isn’t it? You can not make someone see your point of view because their brain not only does not think the same way you do, but also is not capable of thinking the same way as you. This statement goes both ways by the way. I’m not “hating on conservatives” as one conservative commenter on an article said (even though, quite frankly I’m not keen on conservatives). The “enlightened” progressive finds it impossible to understand how the conservative can’t think his way just as much as the conservative.

And that’s the thing. Conservatives are the guys who say, “things were better back then”, back then being the fifties and sixties, when everyone “knew their place”. When women stayed home and cooked and cleaned. When the white man, even the working man, had a position of privilege over other races in western society. They felt safe back then.

But time have changed, and now the world is polarised, and it’s only getting worse. Look at America. A country neatly divided into the coastal, urbanised, educated areas and the centre; less affluent, less educated. Republicans can fuck these people over all day long, as long as they spout their, “God, guns, gays” rhetoric and “family values”.

It’s why Trump got in. To people who are more black and white in their thinking, simplistic solutions to complex problems are appealing. “We’ll build a wall” and things like that.

And of course fear and prejudice  are the base of this – “Those Mexicans are criminals and rapists”.

Statistics don’t work – you can’t say, “statistically, Mexican immigrants have a lower crime rate than the general population”. Because their brain isn’t listening.

So what’s the solution? Can’t really see that there is one. It seems that there will always be this divide. The takeaway from this post is don’t try too hard. You’re not convincing some else of your politics – most likely ever. Of course, like all things, these difference will be on a scale and there will be people in the middle who can change, but for many people it’s beyond that.

What else can be done? How about separating the people into the morons and the smart people and see who does better. Perhaps it may have been better for the US for example if the south had successfully seceded from the union in the civil war. In the UK, perhaps the north can secede and leave the EU, and leave the smart parts of the UK with prosperity.

I don’t think there is or can be common ground between progressives and conservatives, and I don’t think there is any point trying. Best to separate into two streams of humanity; the rational and the idiots. Both sides would be much happier.

About The Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.