Partyism: The New Stupidity

Dave Killion — October 29, 2014

According to polling data, one in twenty Republicans and Democrats polled in 1960 said they’d be “displeased” if their child married someone from the other party. By 2010, that spread had changed to 1 in 3 for Democrats, and 1 in 2 for Republicans. This phenomenon (known as ‘partyism’) is claimed to be even more influential than racism. For the New York Times, David Brooks argues this is bad

“The problem is that hyper-moralization destroys politics. Most of the time, politics is a battle between competing interests or an attempt to balance partial truths. But in this fervent state, it turns into a Manichaean struggle of light and darkness. To compromise is to betray your very identity. When schools, community groups and workplaces get defined by political membership, when speakers get disinvited from campus because they are beyond the pale, then every community gets dumber because they can’t reap the benefits of diverging viewpoints and competing thought.”

I think Brooks has it backwards; as people are increasingly able to discriminate and separate into communities built of others with similar values, we will not only be better able to discern which groups have superior values, we will also be better able to reap the benefits of diverging viewpoints and competing thoughts, as we could more readily discern which lead to peace and prosperity, and which lead to violence and poverty. This, however, is not to say that partyism is good!

No, the real trouble with partyism is that it is yet another form of collective discrimination. Sure, it might be that liberals and conservatives are, on the whole, close-minded and/or unintelligent. But it is also possible that any individual liberal or conservative is simply uninformed, and, therefore, a potential libertarian. To indulge in partyism would be to miss the opportunity to bring those individuals to the one true faith… and that’s a mistake libertarians just would not make.

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