Ethics Alarms is proud to present as Extradimensional Cephalopod‘s. Comment of the Day to the post, The Quest For The Perfect IIPTDXTTNMIAFB Continues, And Joe May Have Given Us A Winner!
I am always thrilled to have a lot of comment to one of my posts, but there is a definite downside to that: once the number gets much beyond 20, the chances of a comment being read diminishes sharply. The following superb entry on the subject of the relationship between values and bias, in the context of comparing the relative character traits of the current President and the previous one, is as though-provoking and worth reading as anything I have ever written here, and false modesty is not in my tool box.
Identifying our values takes place in a vacuum. Ideas first. Judging people comes later, if necessary. All of us here seem to agree that Trump and Biden are pretty bad people, but we’re arguing about what ways they’re bad, and which one is worse? And moreover, we’re judging each other based on differences of interpretation and risk tolerance which we’re treating as objective fact? We can do better than that.
(I’m not a postmodernist; I do believe we can arrive at judgments we all agree on. It’s just that this isn’t the way to do it.)
Trump and Biden represent different collections of risks. Which one we think is the lesser of two evils depends on what risks we think we and the rest of the world are prepared to deal with. The risks we’re comfortable dealing with depend in turn on our experiences and skills, and how we have come to think of society in general. It’s entirely possible that somebody’s risk assessment is more accurate than someone else’s, or they could be equally good or bad.
However, when we need to hash out a choice between two bad options, we’d better bring to the table some plans for how we’re going to handle the consequences of the option we want to pick. That’ll go a long way towards getting people on board.
(I elaborate on this approach in this article: https://ginnungagapfoundation.wordpress.com/2021/10/19/the-inevitable-trolley-problem-article-or-setting-a-better-precedent/. “Real life isn’t like the trolley problem, but people keep treating it as though it is.”)
After all, figuring out whether Biden or Trump is worse isn’t really the problem we’re trying to solve here. That’s just what the leaders of the Republicans and Democrats want: to divide sensible people so much over a choice between two bad options that nobody has any room to think about how to avoid getting in this situation again. Nobody’s asking “who do we really want on those ballots, and what will it take to get them there?” Everyone’s trying to get their chosen fool elected because they’re more afraid of the other fool.
Worse, nobody’s asking the question, “How do we make the world a better place without any help from our incompetent elected officials?” If we don’t like the way the government uses the power it derives from us, the people, why not use some of that power ourselves?
There’s a couple relevant books I should recommend here: You’re More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen by Eric Liu and The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century by Carne Ross.
Why minimize the flaws of our own preferred option while emphasizing those of the other option, when we could set things up so those options lose their power to force us to either of them?