Sloth in Partisan Politics

To show you how out of touch I am with the news cycle, it wasn’t until I was driving home from Mississippi yesterday afternoon that it hit me: there’s a national election next week. One of the greatest blessings of not having cable in your house is that you are spared campaign commercials during election season.

Of course, once I bothered to check, I found that the news feeds I subscribe to are full of election commentary. Most of it is predictable stuff, demonizing the other side. Occasionally, though, someone comes up with something clever. I am not a fan of Charles Krauthammer–after twenty years I’ve realized he’ll back anyone who is willing to blow up Arabs on Israel’s behalf–but I have to admit this piece, “Obama Underappreciation Syndrome,” is pretty good. I like it because I deplore the phenomenon of supporters of one party attempting to diagnose supporters of another party with psychological disorders. This practice dates back at least to the publication of Theodor Adorno’s awful The Authoritarian Personality in 1950. It’s really just an intellectual cop-out, a way to dismiss your opponents’ arguments without feeling as though you need to expend the mental effort to understand or refute them. I say: Down with sloth!

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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3 Responses to Sloth in Partisan Politics

  1. James says:

    That sounds like a sub-category of the phenomenon that C. S. Lewis referred to as “bulverism”.

    You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly.

  2. I had a similar experience with my dad recently. We were visiting the house he and my mother were renting and we were watching a football game on TV and a political ad came on. Dad began to understandably bemoan how tired he was of the political ads and it occurred to me that, because we don’t have television, we have been mercifully spared.

    • Dr. J says:

      World Series week is one of the few times when I would like to be able to watch television, but missing baseball is a small price to pay for TV’s absence the rest of the year.

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