Who do you want for the GOP ticket in ’08 Dr. Cowen?

So asks Chris in the comments.  Right now I don’t have favored candidates in any of the parties, either here or abroad.  Furthermore I will deliberately resist developing such favorites, and insofar as I can’t help having them, I won’t tell you who they are.  I don’t mean this in a libertarian "they are all crooks" sort of way, though that may be true.  It still really does matter who governs, and so we should take this process of candidate evaluation seriously.  It is just that I don’t want to be part of it.

As a blogger rather than decision-maker I am allowed my small space for protest.  I wish to protest our excessive tendency to choose sides with one group of people rather than another.  I wish to protest excess partisanship, and in particular excess partisanship motivated by the construction of "imaginary good" and "imaginary bad" political personalities.

As biological creatures we are programmed to respond to faces, voices, names, and identities.  We praise them, follow them, condemn them, figure out what side they are on, just like good ol’ East African Plains Apes.  Who is not excited to see a President of the United States attending a Wizards game in a nearby box?  I know I was, and I didn’t even vote for him.  Chimps will give up bananas, just to be able to gaze at photos of high-status other chimps.

I would like for my posts on MR to be one small space where these necessary but ignoble human tendencies toward personalization are resisted and sometimes even criticized.  I am biased, just as you are.  But for aesthetic reasons I would rather my biases be played out in the realm of ideas, rather than directed at people.  And at the margin, some of you should be just a little more like me.


I was fascinated to read about apes prioritizing looking at a high-status ape over actually getting food. Do you have the citation for that? I'd love to learn more.

I agree that overcoming bias is extremely important, and even that I don't have any strong preferences among the current bunch of candidates, but this seems to be an unusual election in that the candidates are all actually fairly good. Trying to be unbiased between Gore and Bush (or even Gore and Kerry) is (almost exactly) like trying to be unbiased between evolution and creation. A lack of bias should create a very strong convergence of opinion, and moderation, in the face of the available evidence, can only be seen as the result of severe bias or almost incredible ignorance.

Your decision is wisely reasoned and well put. I think a good followup question is, For those who intend to vote, how should we go about deciding who to vote for? What are the most important issues facing this coutnry and what backgrounds and personality prepare a candidate for presidency?

amen. this is why i dislike politics so much (and don't understand those who don't). it's all so high-school.

Bravo! By being non-partisan, you probably doubled your readership. Now, if only we can get certain other economic bloggers to follow your lead...

I like how several of the comments have proved Tyler's point. Any time you find yourself wanting to claim that anyone who disagrees with you is clearly a malevolent, sub-human idiot: then you've entered the monkey-mind moron zone.

As Tyler said, we all have this. I do, you do, we all do. It's a built in tribal instinct to root for our side and hate, hate, hate the other side.

That's why we have to be aware of this instinct and work to rise above it, especially in the realm of ideas.

It's hard, cause it feels so good to have a truly Evil enemy to revile and hate. To know with a 100% certainty that you are on the side of all things Good and Righteous.

But it's a lie. An enjoyable, intoxicating lie, but still a lie.

Deep hatred of either the Dems or Repubs is no more meaningful than people who despise the Yankees or Red Sox. And intense love of either party is little different from having a crush on a famous actor.

Ah well, it's just human nature.

All this overcoming bias talk. Tyler, you have
been having too many lunches with that dangerous
Casanova, Robin Hanson!

The creationism to evolution analogy to the big US parties is a bit silly.

I think creationists are wrong. I don't think they are bad people, just mistaken. I think the impact of their mistakes is pretty small, possibly stunting a few kids intellectual growth in a few school districts.

To say someone is wrong in their voting though is almost impossible. If you mean they are mistaken, you are arguing they end up supporting the candidate who's farthest from their own policy goals.

It's possible, but hard. A good example might be poor people voting for Dems to raise the minimum wage, even though those same poor people are the ones most likely to suffer from such a rise. Most likely though, they are voting for Dems for more and better free govt services, which they will benefit from.

If you just mean they are morally wrong, and that the guy they voted for is somehow just a bad guy, then there's no real way to argue that. The hyper-partisans on each side always think the other candidate is an ultra-devious wolf in sheep's clothing whose success is built on a foundation of lies.

Sounds like you just mean they were wrong not to support your policy preferences. Hey, I wish eviros wouldn't be willing to sacrifice human health, progress, and prosperity for the sake of plants and animals. But they are, and vote accordingly. (That's mainly the activists. The average mildly green voter doesn't believe there is any conflict between health and prosperity, and enviro goals. I think they are underinformed and mistaken, of course. The activists tend to acknowledge the conflict and choose to support the non-human side of things.)

No way to get around people having conflicting policy prefs and conflicting values. And these often come down to basically religious beliefs (like with enviros and creationists)that aren't really subject to rational argument.

look, i'm not religious, but i'm not sure how you can prove believers are wrong about the existence of god (cf. pascal). moreover, there's all sorts of studies showing that religious folk in the US tend to be very happy, have good communities, live a long time, etc. so regardless of the "truth" of religious beliefs, they are effective in lots of ways. can the same be sad of your scorn for all religious folk? does your scorn for religious folk extend to MLK, gandhi, aretha or stevie? if not, shut up.

"Also, michael vassar arrogantly insulted the half of Americans who are creationists!"

Or the half that are evolutionists.

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