mad in pursuit: greed & arrogance

2004 political season

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greed & arrogance index


8.30.04 The Pro-Life Principle

My sister E. sent me an article from Commonweal Magazine: "A Prolife Case Against Bush" by Sidney Callahan. It was encouraging to see that there is still what I think of as the Jesuit wing of the Catholic Church -- people who feel obliged to use their brains to reason through issues and dilemmas.

Callahan's beliefs make her "prolife." Her intellect makes her look around to apply that principle to a world larger than the inner uterus. She looks at our "prolife" President and sees overwhelming death and destruction -- premptive war with its daily body count of American soldiers and uncounted bodies of Iraqis.

As a reasoning person, Callahan also cringes at Bush's arrogance at relying solely on his intuitive "advice from a higher power." God will guide him. It reminds me of the joke about the guy on his roof during a flood. His faith tells him that God will save him. He rejects help from two boats and a helicopter. "No thanks. God will save me." But he drowns and winds up confronting God: "I thought you said my faith would save me." God shruggs. "I sent you 2 boats and a helicopter."

So Callahan will vote for Kerry.

It is encouraging to see a mind at work. Unfortunately, reasoning things out is a rarity. I also read Louis Menand's review of "Winning Elections: Political Campaign Management, Strategy & Tactics" in the 8/30/04 New Yorker. Menand goes back to the seminal research by Philip Converse, published as "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics" in 1964. His research showed the following:

10% of people have a set of opinions that add up to a coherent political philosophy - an ideology. They know "what goes with what." They understand that certain actions will rule out other actions.

42% vote on the basis of perceived self-interest, without applying any logical tests

25% form political preferences based on their general sense of whether time are good or bad. (If times are good, vote for incumbent.)

22% vote based on factors that have no discernible "issue content" whatsoever.

This research and subsequent studies of voting behavior is why candidates promise you anything and polish their look.

Both prolife and prochoice belief systems can take your mind on interesting journeys -- but (as one who apparently enjoys lecturing to herself on a daily basis), the going can be lonely.





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