Saturday, February 23, 2008

Arrrgghhh! All those years studying Political Science were a waste!

It's a shame when you realize that you wasted time doing something. It's even more a shame when you realize you wasted A LOT of time doing something!

No, I'm not talking about the times where we might second-guess ourselves after a failed marriage. I'm not referring to the soul-searching that goes on when one of our adult children does something REALLY stupid and we wonder where they learned that from. I'm not even talking about the feeling we get when we are downsized, rightsized, or even (God forbid) laid off, nor am I talking about what happens when you and your spouse vote for opposing candidates (more on that later).

I'm talking about the time we've wasted studying the variety of ideologies and political maneuverings at the Federal, State and Local levels of government in our fine country. I'm talking about the time we (even now) spend on trying to discern the benefits of voting for one primary candidate over another, or even trying to engage in public dialog to assist others in distinguishing from one potential political candidate over another.

This revelation comes like a cannon ball in the gut (I've never felt it, but I watched enough cartoons as a child to be able to imagine how it feels). Could it be true that it is actually our gut that affects our political persuasion? That's what it looks like . . .

According to James Fowler and Christopher Dawes of the University of California, San Diego, genetic predisposition can account for up to 50 percent of our political ideology. Tom Jacobs observed that political scientists have debated which environmental influences have a bigger impact on a young person’s nascent political ideology: the belief system of one’s family of origin, or the alternative ways of thinking one is exposed to in the outside world (say, at college). “All liberals know conservatives don’t have a heart, and all conservatives know that liberals don’t have a backbone,” joked John Alford, a political scientist at Rice University and one of the first academics to explore genetic influences on ideology. “So the issue has always been biological. “This takes some of the onus off of parents,” he added. “If your kids become liberal and you’re a conservative, they’re usually not doing it to poke a finger in their eye. It wasn’t a choice for them, so it doesn’t reflect a deliberate flaunting of your beliefs.”

The sure thing here appears to be that politics are not simple to understand -- at least not as simple as business.

Doc Searls, Scott Allen, and Jay Deragon have all posted of late on the effects of the basic factors of The Relationship Economy on politics in the context of the recent debates. Doc reported that Clinton called it “an honor” to be running against Barack Obama, and that “Whatever happens, we’re going to be fine.” Scott and Jay observed that in recent debates, Obama was saying that we have to have a relationship in order to effect change, while Clinton was saying that “they” have to change in order for us to have a relationship. In order to keep this framed in one ideological stance or another, let me observe that McCain was deemed newsworthy by the New York Times for claims made eight years ago regarding his relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist . . . oh, wait, that's not we mean by The Relationship Economy . . . Actually, I think Newsweek did a decent job of covering the recent mud-slinging toward the GOP candidate-in-waiting.

The bottom line is that all these politicians need is a crash course on relationships. In the marketplace, the reaction to someone who completely and totally offends your offering of a relationship is the removal of that offering, the commitment to take your business elsewhere, and (if they were really offensive) the commitment to report this offense to everyone you know, everyone they know, and as many people as you can by a variety of broadcast mediums. In government and politics, we have to wait a bit longer -- usually around four years. Nonetheless, we all remember the ways to get involved in politics from our American Government class, right? If you don't like the way you are represented, either jump on the bandwagon of someone you agree (more) with, or build your own bandwagon.

It is sad, but I think the choices in this election season started out in the crapper, and they just keep swirling around and around.

Here's Tango's attempt to combine Politics and Relationships:

See if you can do any better!

What do you think?

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