Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Alice interviews Allan Gregg about his sharp criticism of anti-evidence politics, and finds some optimism on Gregg's part that clear falsehoods will eventually be treated with due disdain:
Q. So, one of your early mentors, [US pollster] Richard Wirthlin, he’s arguing that values trumped issues in the work that he did for Ronald Reagan. He told George Lakoff that this was how Reagan managed to get elected: that people wanted to vote for him based on an appeal to values, in spite of most voters at the time disagreeing with his policies.
So, that being the case, that an appeal values will trump reason every time, how is it that you’re so sure we could use reason and knowledge to “fight back”, which was your closing call?
A. It’s the power, you know, it’s the power of 2 + 2 = 4. It’s irrefutable. It’s not very emotionally compelling; it’s not something that causes people to stand up and give you a standing ovation. But over time, it will prevail. Dick is right to the extent that people make their judgements using irrational criteria in a very rational way. I mean, choice – political choice, consumer choice, what have you – is a fairly rational intersection of self-interest and self-image. People ask themselves these two things: (i) is it like me – self-image, and (ii) is it for me – self-interest. And if the answer to both those things is “yes”, they’re likely to be chosen. But the way you transmit “I am like you” could be “you and I love children, or puppy-dogs” as opposed to “you and I both believe that we have to have a guaranteed annual income program”. So, yeah, there always is the element of the irrational in the rational, I just think it’s something we have to keep our guard up for.
Q. But is it also maybe that “you and I both dislike that other person” or “both fear this phenomenon”?
A. [laughs] Well, there’s always that as well, yes.
Q. Because that’s the basis of wedge politics.
A. Well it is, but I’ve always feared those who try to keep the population ignorant, or try to misdirect them, or fool them. I’ve got no problem with right-wingers. I’ve got no problem with left-wingers. I just want them to be honest, and to base their ideology, and put it out there and have it challenged by facts and reason.
- Meanwhile, Mia Rabson writes that notwithstanding incidents like the shooting at the PQ's election-night party, we shouldn't let fear stand between our leaders and the general public:
Each year, it seems security around our politicians tightens.

The federal government is spending $9 million this year to add new barricades on Parliament Hill.
Last month, a man heading for a regular paddle on a Toronto-area river was stopped and frisked by local police because Prime Minister Stephen Harper was campaigning across the river.

In August, newly minted Manitoba Opposition Leader Brian Pallister asked Elections Manitoba for an exemption from publishing his home address in his nomination papers for security reasons. He is the first leader to request such an exemption.

But compared to the high level of security around American politicians, we are still open. Security is there but most often unobtrusive.

It's the way it should be.

The more security we are forced to bear, the more difficult it becomes for the average person to engage with elected officials, and the more difficult it is for those officials to engage with the public.
- But then, as Jim Stanford notes, it isn't only in politics that there's a push to insulate a privileged few from the masses - as even publicly-funded airport security systems are set up to filter out first-class travelers from mere ordinary people.

- And finally, Dr. Dawg points out why there's ample reason for concern that some voices (which are more and more seen as representing a standard right-wing take) are determined to stoke fear - with no regard for the likelihood of resulting violence.

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