Sunday, September 05, 2004

Republicans and Democrats

I abhor politics. The whole political culture nauseates me, as does the partisan willingness to argue endlessly.

On Thursday night, I spent an hour listening to my aunt and sister argue about the Republican National Convention. What is the point of arguing if everyone's mind is already made up?

However, I did feel the need to respond to Fred Wilson's recent post on "Republican or Democrat?"

Fred and several others had created Cosmo-style quizzes to help people decide if they were Republican or Democrat.

While I agree with Fred's goal--to give his kids a way to make up their own minds--I think that the methodology is flawed.

It seems to me that the choice and weighting of questions is critical here. Rather than a simple quiz, we really need to provide a weighted decision matrix.

For example, the young tend to be more idealistic, especially on social views. In general, the Democratic party's beliefs are more compatible with youthful ideals, especially given the Republican party's conservative social views.

On the other hand, parents tend to view things like school choice and public safety as paramount, since their primary concern is the well-being of their children. In this regard, the Republicans usually have the advantage (though the give some of that back with their opposition to gun control).

Personally, like most people, I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. In practice, that means that I vote Republican, though I oppose the party on every social issue. My wife on the other hand, is in the same position as I, and shares the same beliefs on social issues, but votes Democratic because of the Republicans' stand on abortion, gay rights, and so on. We simply weight different categories in different ways.

There was an excellent article in the New York Times magazine on how Democrats and Republicans actually have different brain types. Democrats tend to respond with greater emotion to violence and suffering. The Republican viewpoint is that this makes the Democrats soft and irrational. The Democratic viewpoint is that this makes the party caring an empathetic.
Both viewpoints are correct, but which is correct for you depends on what you value (and possibly even how your brain is constructed).

Of course, I think the ideal would be for someone to create a party that stood for business sense without being in the pocket of the religious right, or a party that supported people's right to choose without taking away to right to choose a school.

1 comment:

Ben Casnocha said...

Good post, but explain why exactly you think Fred's "quiz" is flawed and what you envision a "weighted decision matrix" to entail? I agree that simple yes or no quiz is not the right approach, but I don't completely understand how a weighted decision matrix would work in this case.