Rants About Stuff Other People Have Written – Political Edition

Here is my take on some recent articles that, in the broadest sense of the word, are about political matters. You may notice the absence of a topic that is currently far more important than anything discussed here: The European refugee crisis. However, during the writing of this post alone, so many rapid developments changed the whole situation so quickly that anything I would have written at one point would have been outdated at the next. So all I will say here is that, regardless where you stand on the issue, I will remind you of the existence of charities you can donate to to alleviate the plight of people in war-torn regions, however little you may have needed that reminder and whatever it is worth to you.

Now, enjoy (or hate me for) my foolish opinions:

1. Electing political outsiders

Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex tries to explain the current success of populist politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Donald Trump in the US. Essentially, he believes that the political spectrum has gotten so divided (at least in these two countries) that it’s no longer really possible for candidates to find a sweet spot between appealing to hardcore ideologues and appealing to more moderate positions. Once they get elected, however, they have to deal with reality, and that means that they have to betray their base in a very transparent way. Which, in turn, fosters an increasing hatred for the political establishment, so the fact that centrist politicians disdain and actively speak out against a demagogic candidate starts to work in their favour:

The most salient feature of Trump – I would say the only salient feature of Trump – is that the establishment hates him. Reince Priebus goes to sleep at night and has nightmares about Trump. The liberal media has important-looking people coming on in suits saying it’s a national embarrassment that anyone could vote for Trump. But in signaling terms, what they’re unintentionally saying is “Moderates hate this guy! He’s too politically incorrect to win over Democrats! Only vote for him if you’re a real Republican.” And Republicans are eating it up. It doesn’t even matter that he’s not that conservative in real life, the media has conducted his campaign for him. Every bad thing the media and the establishment say about him will just make him more popular.

To me, who lives on the other side of the Atlantic/the English channel, that seems like a very persuasive analysis. The only things I have to add are these:Read More »