Envy and status in politics

People will oppose policies that benefit themselves and their community if they think it will lower their within-group status.

In other words, even when a policy might make someone materially better off (by, say, improving their housing conditions), they are likely to oppose it if the government doing so for everyone in their community would harm their relative status position.

—Gwyneth McClendon quoted in the Washington Post: ‘Envy and status in politics
Continue reading Envy and status in politics

Why Republicans win…

The plan is to lose a few battles but possibly win the war: let the bill be struck down in district and circuit courts as unconstitutional but give the Supreme Court the final word, and hope five justices are interested in taking an opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade.

Iowa passes one of the harshest abortion bills in America

… they are smart, they are focussed, they are patient.

They plan their moves and execute them with patience over years, if not decades. While their opponents, specially the twitterati sort, react to what’s happening. Reactivity isn’t always bad. But it does usually mean that you aren’t setting the terms, or the direction. You’re just responding to the other’s terms, in/against their direction. And, over time, you are losing.

Continue reading Why Republicans win…

Culture of Relativism

Mandela was prepared to break ranks with his fellow African leaders and condemn oppression. He did not indulge the ruinous culture of relativism and solidarity that had led to so many abuses in Africa passing unrebuked.

—Alec Russell, in ‘After Mandela


I love the term ‘Culture of relativism’. It’s a much better name for what’s come to be known as ‘whataboutery’ in the social media age.

Culture of relativism is also something that’s made a strong comeback in the era of social media empowered populism across the globe.

The drawback of left-right “grand coalitions”

Grand coalitions play into the hands of populists, he suggests, because they signal to voters that political contests are redundant.

… “civilised conflict” helps keep politics, and parties, alive.

The Economist: Social democracy is floundering everywhere in Europe, except Portugal

Political correctness of the other kind

The farmers know something is happening to the weather, but the words “climate change” have become politically charged in a place where, like much of rural America, conservative politics dominate.

Climate change threatens Montana’s barley farmers – and possibly your beer – Food and Environment Reporting Network

In the field, looking at his withering crop, Somerfeld was unequivocal about the cause of his damaged crop – “climate change.” But back at the bar, with his friends, his language changed. He dropped those taboo words in favour of “erratic weather” and “drier, hotter summers” – a not-uncommon conversational tactic in farm country these days.

Decisions in uncertainty…

I can’t predict it. I’ve given up predicting politics. I used to be really good at it, and then I was not so good at it, and now I think it’s probably inherently unpredictable. So where do you camp in those circumstances? You camp on the ground you believe in.

Tony Blair: ‘The whole country has been pulled into this Tory psychodrama over Europe’