Ideological Identity

A post a few days ago was on immigration and marriage rights intersecting into trust and how our group affiliations, aka tribes, impact are perceptions of these groups.

Today is on ideology and trust. Back in January I posted The Enemy’s POV. I found this Ezra Klein article UNPOPULAR MANDATE: Why do politicians reverse their positions? interesting, especially this paragraph.

According to the political-science literature, one of the key roles that political parties play is helping us navigate these decisions. In theory, we join parties because they share our values and our goals—values and goals that may have been passed on to us by the most important groups in our lives, such as our families and our communities—and so we trust that their policy judgments will match the ones we would come up with if we had unlimited time to study the issues. But parties, though based on a set of principles, aren’t disinterested teachers in search of truth. They’re organized groups looking to increase their power. Or, as the psychologists would put it, their reasoning may be motivated by something other than accuracy. And you can see the results among voters who pay the closest attention to the issues.

Oh, right… I added some bold.

We change the facts to prevent long term cognitive dissonance. Holding together in our head the idea our tribe is both right and wrong troubles our minds. The strategy is smart. Dwelling on ideas that trouble us in the way cause stress which in the long run is bad for us. Better to alter or forget a few troubling facts than meltdown.

Klein uses the examples of conservatives, including the presumptive presidential candidate favoring a health care reform model up until the opposing party used it. Suddenly it was unconstitutional. Winning is more important than being right. Passing the opposition’s bill based on your own policy apparently is a loss.

This is what is wrong in government. The tribe should not be the party. The tribe should be the world. But that would mean no opposition. It would also mean not being completely vested in an idea that might lose.

A concept I love from the Baha’i Faith is in discussing a problem, any idea presented belongs to the group not the individual. Practiced well, it means stronger personalities do not ram a decision down everyone’s craw. Decisions also tend to be iterative, so the first may not be great, but something is learned from it so the second will be hopefully better and so on until the best is found. Striving to improve is what is important.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

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