Posted by: kararc | October 27, 2012

My daydream: a political environment where opinions can change

In Feel the Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Mark Leibovich daydreams about the candidates getting together for hot dogs as a way to temper the “fauxness permeat[ing] everything this year.” His daydream is fascinating. The fact that we can only dream about political leaders getting together shows how big the wedge between Democrats and Republicans has become. I’m with Leibovich that the negativity this year is disturbingly high — another article shows this all too well.

But I’m more disturbed by what Leibovich terms “fauxness.” George Packer describes it best in a 2003 Mother Jones article: “The more confusing and contradictory reality becomes, the more we cling to our fantasies of how things should be; facts, it turns out, can be far less stubborn things than opinions.” The fauxness of this election comes from an instinct to cling to beliefs and opinions, no matter the facts. It’s telling that a politician who changes an opinion is seen negatively, as a flip-flopper.

It’s disturbing that we ignore or misconstrue facts that don’t support our opinions because we end up living in a warped reality. Consider Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock whose attempt to justify his opinion led him to state that rape, something virtually all Americans see as criminal, is the will of God.

Why is changing an opinion a sign of weakness? How did we get to this point where changing our minds is more difficult than warping and ignoring facts? Why do politicians have to pretend they never change their minds?

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