[FoRK] "Two faces of the Tea Party"

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Jun 23 12:45:04 PDT 2010

On 6/23/10 11:05 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> On Jun 23, 2010, at 11:26, Russell Turpin <russell.turpin at gmail.com> 
> wrote:
>> On Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:
>>> "Batshit crazy" is evenly distributed in all directions in political 
>>> space. ...
>> I see no reason to think that is the case for any particular nation
>> and time period.

Often it is the tolerance, in a bad way, that makes people uncomfortable 
with the Tea Party.  In other words, even if batshit crazy is evenly 
distributed, there is a big difference between a group that silently 
ignores and routes around that faction and another that elevates it to 
the highest ideal or at least allows it to be most vocal without 
attenuation.  Sort of the "speaking in tongues" of politics.  The sane 
Tea Partiers are often practicing polite silence (as I defined it a 
while back) far too much, thereby enabling crazy, probably because they 
are addicted to the apparent incremental success and too lazy to care 
about the negative consequences.  They likely realize that, mostly, they 
don't have a viable alternative reality to pitch.

So, I think it is the flavor of how crazy is handled by the group and 
related meta-groups more than the existence of crazy that is important.  
In a healthy group, the fringes are gradually persuaded to gravitate and 
support the consensus and the consensus always converges, eventually, on 
rational and reasonably optimal choices.

> Agreed.  There are definitely dynamics.  Perhaps over a large enough 
> population and time scale.
> I'm being a bit disingenuous, though. I don't fully subscribe to this 
> point of view, though it *is* the one that motivates the usual 
> analyses of democracy.
> My own skepticisms largely follow Caplan's, amply laid out in his 
> popular book and other writings.
> The whole post was intended a bit ironically.  If the effect described 
> was real, we would always find ourselves in a calm sea of reason.  
> Instead we whipsaw from Bush-batshit crazy to Obama-batshit crazy, ad 
> infinitum, a perpetual perfect storm.
> Democracy is fashion, not reason.  But with profound consequences.

Some reason I think, but reason being whispered at a party where half 
the people are drunk and listening to the band or napping.
It's often not cool to be a reason-geek either, until the chips are down 
and suddenly everyone is mad at everyone else for not being more sane 
when it was cheap and easy.

> jb


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