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The Disaster of Right-Brained Voting

May 15, 2017

If you follow this blog, or just from its title, you know it’s mostly about issues of the human spirit.  But it’s impossible to separate spiritual issues from governance and the politics that go with it.  They affect one another, often in major ways.  In that much I agree with my more conservative friends and countrymen and women.

Besides that, I’m finding it too hard to restrain myself from at least some small contribution to what I think we must learn in America about reasoned, responsible voting.  (Note the “V” formation in the photo… an excuse to bring one in from a favorite recent hike of mine.) And not just young or new voters but older, experienced ones!

There are plenty of things I’d love to comment on that have to do with the current debacle playing itself out in Donald Trump, combined with counter-factual approaches in Congress to improving our healthcare system, etc.  But what is most urgent in my mind are the grave and even nation-threatening issues around the erratic conduct and poor ethics of Trump, combined with his incompetence and that of his administration on several levels.  I believe even most of his supporters recognize these things and the gravity of them but have psychological or political reasons to deny it.  These forces often even block reality from people’s own consciousness.

Trump would not be the serious threat to our democracy that he is, and potentially to the environment, etc., if voters had merely engaged the full powers of their brains.  Now, for many that would have required opening to additional sources of information and giving them a fair hearing.  That’s part of the process of using all of one’s brain – right and left hemispheres in balance.  It tends to be easier to listen only to one’s “tribe” (party, sub-culture, certain “talkers”, etc.). But the cost can be high, as it is right now. 

Further, it’s not a matter of excusing a Trump vote with the claim that Clinton was a bad alternative.  There were plenty of warnings well before Trump was racking up primary wins that his candidacy was a sham and that he was an unqualified charlatan.  Good left-brained analysis… taking some time to analyze his message, examine his life history and other pertinent matters, would have kept him from winning the Republican nomination.

But people weren’t operating in such a mode.  They generally are not when preparing to vote.  However, the problem has recently become even worse, coinciding with the rise in polarization and fear or loathing of those who differ.  We must begin doing a better job of cultivating the use of our critical faculties… in the sense of reasoning and critique. Critique of not only an opposing viewpoint but all arguments and sources, including the ones we tend to favor.  Again, there was plenty of strong analysis of Trump from many people who knew him well, those who’d researched his business career, psychologists and psychiatrists commenting on his character and personality, and much more.

These were often not partisan people. They just knew Donald Trump well enough, from close-up or extensive observation, to feel strongly that they had an obligation to speak up. Should we weight the opinions of such people above those of people who make their living from being on one “side” or another, or from whipping up fervor through their media platforms (especially radio talk shows)? Of course! But not enough people did.

One step further: An open and thinking voter didn’t really even need to hear from the many people just described to come to a solid conclusion that Trump, at best, was an extremely high risk candidate.  There was no real evidence… only hopes… that his experience as a businessman would mean he could transfer any skills (very few, in actuality) from there to effective governing.  History wasn’t favoring that, and that’s already been reinforced.  And what was the downside risk? Extremely high, based on things we’d already seen played out.

I realize that those who most need to hear admonishments about using all aspects and faculties of their brains when voting (and not just for President!)… to stop being mentally lazy… are not likely to discover this article or perhaps really grasp it if they do.  So, other readers, please do whatever you can to carry this message to people you probably know who do need it and may receive it better from you than from me or others. 






2 Comments leave one →
  1. hoju1959 permalink
    May 20, 2017 2:11 pm

    I like what you said, Howard, about just being concerned with our “tribe.”

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