Politics Change How (We Think) People Perceive Us
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What You'd Like to Believe:
Our political process depends on us knowing how closely our personal views align with those of the existing political parties. Without this knowledge, electing future Rich-People-Who-Like-to-Wear-Suits-and-Lie would be even more chaotic than it already is. The political party system lets us know exactly what type of citizen we are and, more importantly, what sort of misguided idiot we most certainly are not.
Both liberals and conservatives have no self-awareness (and at the end of the day, lacking self-awareness is what makes us American, isn't it?). Studies demonstrate that liberals have an overwhelming tendency to think they have less in common with their political allies than they really do; meanwhile, conservatives believe they have more in common with their political allies. And both groups are equally wrong.
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"No! The other side is wronger!"
Think about it: Conservatives oppose same-sex couples in order to "protect family values," yet the "traditional family" is an ever-shrinking minority. It's almost like they just assume that theirs is the "default way to be." Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Street movement never developed a clear message because no one wanted to risk excluding all the people they assumed disagreed with them. For instance, consider this vague message I transcribed from an Occupy rally: "We are the 99 percent! Yes, we are! The 99 percent! That's what we are! Ninety-nine! Percent! We are! Yes! Ninety-nine!"
Now, perhaps all of this has made you as mad as our hair-receding friend above. But before you get upset and storm into Cracked's secret underground lair (and that's only if you get past reception ... and the confusing labyrinth of neighboring website offices, and, ugh, the sign-in sheet), bear in mind that these findings don't apply to everyone. But hopefully by considering these trends and getting to know our opponents, we can someday come together, look past our differences, and agree upon new, exciting ways to tell each other to fuck off.
JF Sargent is on Twitter and Facebook and a blog and even a sci-fi adventure novel you can read for free.
For more on politics, check out If Politicians Ran On Issues the Internet Cares About.