I don’t bother with discussing politics anymore – whether it’s online or off. Sure, I’ll post something here or there, or I’ll start a discussion thread on social media about very specific topics. Anything further though, like specific policy, or whether a political party has merit or not; count me out. Not happening. It isn’t that I’m dispassionate about politics, economics, or sociology – hell, most of my social media posts are on those very topics!
The problem is that, in our current times, in this age where the individual is king and everyone’s opinion matters; reality, facts, and the truth, are cast aside in favor of whatever appeals to whatever it is one already believes. Whatever the opinion you hold, you can go online and find something that agrees with you.
So with everyone looking for their own sources of biased information, telling vastly different versions of recent ideas and events, how would one get even close to a shared understanding of reality, let alone the merits of any political party in particular? Everyone reads that their favorite party or political leaning is good and right and just, and that “the other guys” are evil baby killers and rapists. What is the point of discussing these things when almost everyone knows or cares about only the versions of reality that conform to their existing opinions? Universal, government-run healthcare is simultaneously the best way to deliver healthcare to hundreds of millions of people, and a sure fire way to make sure that people die on waiting lists for their local doctor. Which statement is accurate? Whichever one you want! Go looking online and you’ll find dozens of articles to support your view and counter the dozens of articles that your opponent will point to to support their own opinions. Obviously everyone can’t be right; obviously the correct answer exists somewhere, but where is it and what does it tell us? No-one knows!
‘The truth’ isn’t some subjective thing that people can pretend doesn’t exist while reading about how they’re right about everything; it’s real and concrete and measurable, whether people want to acknowledge it or not. It can’t be true that subsidizing all fruit and vegetable consumption will lead to both healthier and< unhealthier citizens. News sources market themselves to people of particular political or social leanings, rather than marketing to people who want to know about the happenings of the day in a truthful and unbiased way. A newspaper or website like that might exist, but these get lost among the “conservatives want to blot out the sun so we have to burn more fossil fuels” and “liberals want to force your kids to be gay and have sex with old men who have aids” headlines that newspapers and websites sling at their political opponents.
Related: Is democracy is played out?
Politicians aren’t much better. It seems that rather than understanding the best policy choice to serve the population, many parties around the world think about policy that they want to create (for whatever reason) and then do their best to sell that to voters. Some parties are better than others, of course, and I’m sure that a hundred die hard left- and right-wing voters each will swear up and down “that the other side” does the bad thing while “their side” mostly does the right thing. Pathetic.
Everything discussed here applies both to your debate partner and the audience members, by the by. No-one is changing their mind about anything, and everyone goes away ranting about how their side “won” despite the fact that it isn’t a fuckin’ contest!
Put this together with the fact that most first-world elections are decided by a few percent of voters at best; and why bother ever discussing politics with anyone? If your discussion partners believe as you do, then it’ll just be a circle jerk. If they don’t, then it’ll likely be, at least, a “well here’s what I think” stalemate with the end result being exactly as it was when it started. No minds will be changed or even come close to it. What’s the point?
We’re basically all arguing that our made up of reality is better than some other version of reality – why even bother? The current Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, shat his pants in a South Sydney McDonald’s in 1997.