Polarization and Presidential Conventions
August 21, 2020 a personal disclosure, an explainer book, the first presidential party convention and an introduction to a St. Louis couple who need counseling, desperately.
I must disclose my political predilection at the outset. You may decide to continue reading, or not. Politically, I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Do I straddle both parties? No—set parties aside. I am in the flesh a ‘policy Venn Diagram’.
Setting aside my caveat, I recommend a fascinating 2020 book by Ezra Klein, the founder of VOX, an online ‘explainer’–a daily online news for those of us who need help understanding the complexities of our world today. Why We’re Polarized, at the outset paints neither party as villains. However, Klein wrote and published before we were hit with a worldwide Coronavirus pandemic and the long overdue push for global racial justice.
Klein sees, or at least he did when writing this book that polarization is necessary for political disagreements: “Polarization is required for political disagreements to express themselves”. He goes on to say that the alternative to polarization is not consensus but suppression of thought and at a health cost and an economic cost. Without disagreement he asserts, oppression rears its ugly head. Why We’re Polarized is a thought-provoking read yet written without academic elitism.
For an update on his world view, listen to a recent Ezra Klein pod cast:
In 2018, psychology professionals regardless of party affiliation were unwilling to identify overly troublesome personality traits of our current president—traits seen daily in full view. In early 2020 unable to hold their silence any longer, these same professionals spoke. Collectively they identified traits that are troublesome in anyone, but more so in the leader of our country. The Democratic Convention brought the usually respectful and mannerly out of the woodwork ready to do battle. Speaker after speaker criticized the current administration and labeled #45 as incompetent and ill-suited for the position. While the keynote speakers on the DNC virtual stage identified behaviors, without calling up the usual psychological jargon, they were not hesitant to frame the traits and their consequences in lay-terms to a watching public which we are told included an angry #45.
We await the RNC Convention next week and its response. Currently we know the themes of the four nights: Land of Heroes, Land of Promise, Land of Opportunity and Land of Greatness. The First Lady will speak, as will VP Pence, Senator Scott and Mark McCloskey and Patricia McCloskey of St. Louis who made the news several times. Yes, it seems the McCloskey(s) could do with some EQ—emotional intelligence—tutoring. And, the RNC planners should have vetted the couple more carefully before sending an invitation. But, my opinion remains to be validated.
The next blog Post III on Bias where I address the role of current culture and our sometimes-humorous behaviors that keep the status quo in place. In the future posts, I shall address policing practices and attitudes through the lens of a behavioral scientist, a social scientist and a police commander.