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The Tao of Politics: Understanding the Memetics of Polarization

Introduction


“An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.” ~Thomas Jefferson, 11,817HE.


We find ourselves in an era characterized by a heightened state of social polarization, an era where political opponents seem locked in an unending tug of war. The tension between them is palpable, making conversations and debates often more about conflict than dialogue or mutual understanding.


In this climate, it is of paramount importance to understand the roots of this division. This tension isn't the product of isolated events, but rather the result of understandable political and social dynamics. By delving into these dynamics, we can dissect the seemingly insurmountable divide that plagues our society and seek ways to foster dialogue, understanding, and eventually, respectable political policy stemming from the consensus of the governed. As Dwight D. Eisenhower put it, "The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters."


At first glance, the Left and the Right might seem worlds apart. However, when we adopt a broader perspective, it becomes clear that these differences are part of a larger picture, one that includes shared values and objectives. Recognizing this interconnectedness and seeking common ground can be the first step towards bridging our political divide.



The Underlying Unity


SLTF 36:597 “Listen, bud, if I had one Altairian dollar for every time I heard one bit of the Universe look at another bit of the Universe and say ‘That’s terrible’ I wouldn’t be sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin. But I haven’t and I am.” -Praised be Douglas Adams


In navigating the often polarized terrain of political discourse, the ancient wisdom of Taoism provides a pertinent lens. Taoism posits an underlying unity beneath apparent opposites, a perspective that can illuminate our understanding of the seemingly insurmountable opposition between different political ideologies.


One area where this unity becomes visible is the concept of “boundaries” within political philosophies. Boundaries, either tangible like geopolitical borders, or more abstract like societal norms, significantly shape the ideologies of both the Left and Right.


The Right typically advocates for the preservation of existing boundaries unless proven harmful. This philosophy emerges from a deep-rooted respect for tradition and stability, backed by the belief that boundaries exist for a reason.


On the other hand, the left is inclined towards eliminating boundaries unless they prove beneficial. They champion progress, evolution, and adaptation, often seeing established boundaries as potential obstacles to these goals.


The debate over border wall security and unisex bathrooms (which, to be clear, aren't "monosex" bathrooms) provides tangible examples of these differing views on boundaries. The Right’s call to literally cement our southern geopolitical border through a physical wall stands as a testament to their philosophy. In contrast, the left’s advocacy for abolishing biological sex-based bathroom boundaries symbolizes their progressive stance.


These examples, while admittedly hyperbolic, serve to illustrate the fundamental difference in perspectives. Each side genuinely believes their approach is in the collective interest, reflecting a shared commitment to societal progress and historical tradition. This exploration serves as a reminder of the underlying unity amidst political diversity.


In subsequent sections we will delve into why, in our current culture, hyperbole often becomes a necessary tool for driving home a point. But for now, let’s appreciate the interplay of differing viewpoints coexisting in the same political ecosystem.



The Two-Party System in Theory


Surveying the expanse of the American political landscape, it may appear as if the Two-Party System is a product of purposeful design, founded on the principle of equilibrium.


We often conceptualize the Left and the Right as inseparable halves of a unified entity. The Left tends to usher in bold, progressive ideologies that challenge existing norms and drive systemic transformation. These innovations frequently aim to rectify social disparities, tackle environmental challenges, and address various other evolving concerns.


Conversely, the Right holds a key position in this duality by validating that new propositions respect long-held traditions and prevent a recurrence of historical missteps. Their cautious analysis serves as a necessary counterweight, helping to ensure that the swift tide of change doesn’t unsettle society or neglect principles that have formed the bedrock of its evolution.


This dynamic aligns neatly with the “boundaries” concept we explored earlier. Despite having contrasting opinions on their execution, both parties have a common stake in these boundaries, which theoretically fosters a cooperative spirit within the two-party system.


Ideally, the two parties would be designed to act as a dynamic mechanism of checks and balances, each restraining the other’s extremes, operating in a collaborative rather than adversarial fashion. This mutual influence should craft a vigorous political atmosphere where ideologies are put to the test, polished, and eventually adopted. It promises progress, albeit within a framework upheld by the learnings of past experiences and time-honored traditions.


However, we must now reveal a disquieting truth: this entire exposition of the American two-party system is a post hoc rationalization. While it sketches an appealing narrative of balance and cooperation, in reality, it’s a rehearsed script many of us inherited from our well-meaning grandparents.


As we delve deeper into the roots of our political system, it becomes crucial to consider who actually wrote the scripts we are following. What forces, what agents, and what dynamics have shaped the course of American politics? The answers might lead us to explore a fundamentally different type of agent behind the scenes – one that operates silently and profoundly influences the evolution of our political landscape.


The possibility of such covert forces raises intriguing questions: What agendas might be at play? Who stands to gain from a polarized and divided society? Could there be a deeper game being played, one that we, as ordinary citizens, may not be aware of?


As we continue our exploration, we will shed light on the forces that shaped the two-party system and delve into the interplay of elements that have guided our political landscape. While we may not have all the answers, understanding these hidden dynamics will undoubtedly help reveal the true nature of our political circumstances.


Regardless of whatever nefarious entities are pulling the strings of our political discourse, we can safely say that our two-party system didn’t evolve from a grand master plan. It was shaped by the inherent dynamics of our electoral process, not by a forethought of cooperation or balance. While instances of real collaboration between parties have happened, they were outcomes of circumstances, not design. The next section will dissect this process, illuminating how our governance system organically led to a two-party system.


The Emergence of the Two-Party System


The architecture of our voting system was initially established on two important principles, the first that each citizen (predominantly white male landowners at the time) would have a vote proportional to the people under their charge (including women and slaves who were considered fractional people). The other principle is the rule where the candidate with the most votes wins, known as the “first-past-the-post” rule.


However, the interplay between these principles gives rise to an unintended consequence: the emergence and dominance of a two-party system. This happens via a phenomenon known as Strategic Voting. In this setup, voting for a third-party or independent candidate often feels like a wasted effort, given their slim chances of securing the most votes. As a result, voters tend to gravitate towards one of the two major factions, even if they don't align very closely with their personal beliefs. This behavior strengthens the dominance of the major parties and inadvertently suppresses the diversity of political opinions.


Imagine a hypothetical society with a rainbow of political parties, each representing unique views and ideas. They adopt a simple set of rules for elections: "one person, one vote," and the candidate with the most votes wins, the "first-past-the-post" rule. Now, let's follow this society through several election cycles.


In the first election, voters cast their ballots sincerely, voting for the party that best represents their views. The results are scattered across the various parties, with no single party having a clear majority. The party that manages to scrape together the most votes wins, but there's a general feeling that the result doesn't reflect the diverse views of the society.


By the second election, voters are becoming strategic. They've realized that their favorite small party is unlikely to win, so they cast their vote for a larger party that has a better shot at winning, even if its views only align marginally with theirs. They'd rather have some say in the result than "waste" their vote. The result is a significant boost for the major parties, while the smaller parties get squeezed.


As more election cycles pass, this trend continues. Smaller parties see the writing on the wall. They either fold, or they merge with larger parties that share some of their views. Voters, in turn, increasingly throw their weight behind the major parties, perpetuating their dominance.


After several elections, what started as a vibrant, multi-party democracy has polarized into a two-party system. The diversity of political views has shrunk, not because people's beliefs have changed, but because the voting rules encouraged them to align with one of the two major parties.


This simplified scenario illustrates how the interplay between "one person, one vote" and "first-past-the-post" can drive a system towards a two-party structure. It shows that the shift towards two major parties is not about specific beliefs becoming more popular, but about the strategic behavior the system encourages.


This wasn’t a carefully crafted strategy but rather an emergent property of the democratic mechanisms implemented — an unexpected outcome that the founding fathers hadn’t anticipated. Our current understanding of these deterministic forces that lead to a two-party system is something that has only been possible with the benefit of hindsight and advancements in political science.


The rise of the two-party system impacts more than just who gets elected. It has far-reaching effects on the range of political discourse, the formulation and implementation of policies, and the representation of diverse political opinions.



The Impact of the Two-Party System


Our current two-party system inadvertently breeds an environment where polarization and animosity are not only prevalent but also necessary for political survival. It fosters an "us versus them" mentality that not only permeates the voters' psyche but also pervades all aspects of the political landscape.


However, it is crucial to understand that the true friction within this system is not merely between the political parties (which can actually work in their favor, as we shall see), but more critically between the voters demanding change and the bureaucrats and politicians tasked with implementing these changes. Within the confines of this system, voters often feel compelled to vote strategically rather than sincerely, limiting the expression of their genuine political leanings. On the other hand, politicians and bureaucrats, despite their commitment to public service, find themselves having to navigate the complexities of policy-making within an increasingly polarized and binary political landscape.


Take, for instance, the contentious debate around healthcare reform. The political dialogue has become so polarized that it operates as a zero-sum game, any alteration to the status quo is perceived as a victory for one side and a loss for the other. This divisive narrative restricts bureaucrats from crafting balanced, inclusive policies, contributing further to the escalating tensions.


Moreover, the two-party system amplifies this polarization by fostering a "winner-takes-all" mentality. The prospect of only one party securing power incentivizes an intense battle for supremacy, escalating the stakes and consequences of electoral loss. This mentality exacerbates the divisions within society, fueling partisan rivalry and setting the stage for an unending cycle of contention.


Importantly, this isn't an indictment of the voters, politicians, or even bureaucrats. These individuals are, in many ways, unwitting victims of the system as much as they are participants. They operate within a system that encourages the proliferation of party ideologies at the expense of nuanced policy-making and sincere political discourse. They're actors in a larger play, one that seems to favor the interests of the political parties themselves more than the constituents within them.


To better see this, we will return to the lens of Memetics. These political parties can be seen as highly successful meme complexes, or groups of ideas that have adapted to survive and propagate in our political environment together. This memetic perspective frames our two-party system as a landscape dominated by these two enormous meme complexes, both striving for survival and proliferation.



The Memetic Nature of Political Parties and Their Spread


Now that we've introduced the concept of memes, it may be tempting to blame “The Media” for the spread of these political ideas. However, it's crucial to understand that the media, like the rest of us, are ensnared in the same memetic web.


Memes, as units of culture, spread from person to person, subtly shaping our beliefs and behaviors. They're not just ephemeral online trends. Memes behave like living organisms, vying for survival in our collective consciousness. Their survival depends on how often they are thought about and discussed, thereby reproducing and perpetuating their influence in the public psyche.


To delve further into the concept of memes and their spiritual implications, I encourage you to revisit the article titled "John 1:1 In The Beginning was Semantics: A Myth is worth 1000 Laws."


Memes exploit the media as a means of propagation. Research like "What Makes Online Content Viral?" by Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman has shown that high-arousal emotional content is more likely to spread. Memes leverage this phenomenon, becoming more emotional and thereby more divisive, to ensure their own survival. It's to a meme's advantage to become more inflammatory, not only fueling disagreements between opposing groups but also sparking heated internal debates about the perceived threat from the other side.


Arguably, the most insidious aspect of this dynamic is the creation and perpetuation of echo chambers. Within these echo chambers, each political faction, Left and Right, finds itself embroiled in an internal battle about how outrageous the other side is. As these internal debates escalate, they breed and nurture an exaggerated, monstrous version of their political adversary, often without any actual interaction with the opposition. As a result, distorted perspectives of the opponent proliferate and persist, outpacing the spread of accurate representations.


A case in point is the abortion debate, framed by the “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” memes. Each meme stirs emotions and perpetuates distorted perspectives among its followers—“Pro-Life” often portraying pro-choice advocates as “baby killers” and “Pro-Choice” depicting pro-life supporters as "religious zealots" hell-bent on infringing on women’s rights. These distorted perceptions hinder constructive policy-making.


Importantly, the negative labels such as "baby killers" for pro-choice advocates or "religious zealots" for pro-life supporters can actually strengthen the respective memes. This seemingly paradoxical benefit emerges from the dynamics of memetic evolution. The labels trigger emotional responses and defensive reactions, reinforcing the meme's identity and solidifying group cohesion among its advocates. This creates an "us versus them" mentality, and a sense of persecution, further reinforcing the meme's narrative.


Through this process of labeling and emotional arousal, a cycle of polarization is perpetuated, making it increasingly difficult to have a constructive dialogue. Both pro-life and pro-choice memes engage in this memetic "arms race", deepening the divide and making finding common ground ever more challenging.


In both instances, it's evident that the memes themselves prosper through the divisive rhetoric and emotional responses they provoke. This fuels their survival and proliferation, engendering a self-reinforcing cycle of polarization and strife.


Interestingly, these memes have evolved in such a way that they don't foster a resolution to the issue at hand, but instead, they thrive on continuous disagreement. The reason being, if a consensus was reached, then the issue would no longer occupy our thoughts, thereby threatening the survival of the meme.


Part of this dynamic owes to our natural inclination to engage with like-minded individuals, preferring the comfort of shared frustration over the discomfort of engaging in constructive discourse with the “other side”. This results in more interactions within each group than between them, further deepening the divide and cementing these distortions.


It's as if these memes have cunningly fine-tuned themselves to incense each group just enough to keep them incessantly discussing their anger and indignation about the other side. However, they carefully avoid inciting so much hostility that it might provoke a direct confrontation that could risk the inadvertent discovery of common ground. Hence, these memes keep us locked in our echo chambers, nurturing the disagreement they depend on for their survival.


Recognizing these dynamics is essential in addressing polarization and seeking productive ways to engage in discussions about sensitive issues. By understanding how memes can manipulate emotional responses and exploit divisive language, we can work towards fostering healthier interactions and promoting more constructive dialogue that transcends the memetic pressures and allows for meaningful engagement with different perspectives.


The evolution of memes and their influence on our socio-political landscape sheds light on the mechanisms that drive polarization. Memes, like genes, compete for survival and propagation, and in this memetic struggle, disagreement and conflict become advantageous for their perpetuation. As memes evolve, they tend to become more disagreeable, exploiting emotional arousal and divisive language to reinforce their identity and solidify the allegiance of their adherents. This process hinders constructive dialogue, perpetuates polarization, and fosters an environment where finding agreement on contentious topics becomes challenging. However, understanding these memetic dynamics empowers us to navigate this landscape with greater awareness and resilience.



The Memetic Evolution of Political Parties in the U.S.


Political polarization in America is a dynamic and multifaceted phenomenon, deeply rooted in the nation's history and continually shaped by memetic evolution. As we seek to understand the stark ideological divides we observe today, it becomes crucial to examine this process in the context of America's two dominant political factions, which we will refer to as the "Red party" and the "Blue party" for simplicity's sake.


In this section, we'll unravel the evolution of these parties from the nation's early years up to the present day. Recognizing the fundamental role memes play in this transformation is key to understanding the process in its entirety. As we trace the ideological pathways carved by these parties, we will observe how the memes have evolved, adapted, and shaped the political landscape, often with remarkable independence and persistence. The historical origins of the American political parties reveal a puzzling and counterintuitive shift in ideologies.


At the country’s inception, the founding members were divided into two major factions - one advocating for big government, which we're calling the “Red party," and the other for small government, which we're calling the “Blue party." Today, these labels might seem opposite to our modern political intuition, where the Republican Party (symbolized by red) often champions states’ rights and limited federal intervention, while the Democratic Party (symbolized by blue) advocates for robust federal oversight. However, to understand these changes, we need to explore them from the perspective of memes, where survival and adaptation play crucial roles, independently of individual involvement, all in the pursuit of their own perpetuation.


In the early years of the U.S., there were no political parties as we know them today. The initial divide was between the Federalists who advocated for big government, which we're calling the “Red party;" and the Anti-Federalists who advocated for small government, which we're calling the “Blue party." Much of the contention was influenced by disagreements over the degree to which social Christianity should influence government policy.


The Revolutionary War occurred between the First and Second Great Awakenings, religious movements that played a significant role in shaping the young nation. During the Second Great Awakening, a rise in different Christian denominations occurred, each interpreting the Bible's teachings in their own way. Some individuals in the North, controlled by the “Red Party,” began to speak out against slavery, motivated by relatively pure moral reasons. However, the economy in the North was becoming increasingly industrialized, making slavery less tenable as an economic institution. This economic utility of the abolitionist meme within the "Red party" in the North contributed to its successful spread and adoption.


In contrast, the "Blue party" in the largely rural and agrarian South, where slavery was integral to the economy, found itself aligning with religious interpretations that defended the institution. Despite some moral individuals also advocating for abolition in the South, the economic dependence on slavery made assimilating the meme impossible for the party's survival.


This demonstrates how memes can co-opt our sense of free will and shape our beliefs and actions in ways that might not be immediately apparent. Even though individuals in both parties consciously held certain beliefs, the underlying memetic forces guided the evolution of the parties, with survival as the driving force.


During the Civil War, both the “Red” and “Blue” parties were embroiled in the conflict in different ways. The “Red” party, under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, was firmly against the expansion of slavery, leading the Union in its struggle to preserve the nation and the principles upon which it was founded. Their opposition to slavery was not simply moral; they also saw it as a socioeconomic system incompatible with industrial progress.


On the other hand, the “Blue” party, primarily represented by the Southern states, seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy. They sought to protect their economic system, which was heavily reliant on agriculture and slave labor. The war deeply entrenched the “Blue” party’s resistance to federal interference and marked the beginning of a long-lasting regional and ideological divide.


This traumatic period in American history intensified the ideological rift between the two parties, with repercussions that would reverberate throughout the subsequent memetic evolution of American political parties.


In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, we see the "Red party" as the victor, now having the task of reintegrating the Southern states back into the Union, and the "Blue party", mostly situated in the South, in a state of economic devastation. These circumstances lead to a shift in political ideologies.


The Northern "Red" party realized the importance of reintegrating the Southern states back into the Union. They pursued policies of Reconstruction, aiming to protect newly freed slaves and rebuild the South. However, the resistance was fierce, and many in the South felt these policies were punitive.


The "Red party" embraced the abolitionist meme and championed the rights of newly freed slaves, instituting laws and amendments aimed at guaranteeing these rights. This Reconstruction period aimed at rebuilding the South and protecting African American citizens from Southern backlash. This brought about an era of Radical Republicans who pushed for swift and strong federal intervention to protect civil rights.


Conversely, the "Blue party" was facing a destroyed economy and a severely disrupted societal order. The party, therefore, began recuperation with memes advocating for economic recovery and resistance to what was seen as punitive federal intervention. The Southern "Blue" party largely consisted of ex-Confederates who were initially resistant to the changes but eventually realized the need to work within the system. Their acceptance into the system, however, was a gradual process. This can be seen as an attempt to rebuild its political base by aligning with the interests of white Southerners who felt threatened by the societal changes occurring.


The Great Depression solidified this shift. The dire economic condition across the country necessitated a strong federal response, marking the evolution of the "Blue party", with Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in office, to embrace a strong central government with its New Deal programs. These programs were focused on relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy, and reform of the financial system. While this marked a departure from their initial resistance to federal power, the party had to adapt to the needs of the time to maintain its relevance.


Concurrently, the "Red party" started to evolve in the other direction. It should be noted that the deliberate agenda of the Republicans to win Southern votes, known as the Southern Strategy, came much later, around the 1960s and 1970s. This was a time when Civil Rights issues were leading to another political realignment, with many Southern Democrats unhappy with their party's growing support for civil rights reforms. Republicans seized this opportunity to appeal to these voters, leading to the modern alignment where the South is largely Republican. As international politics and post-War prosperity brought new concerns about government expansion and intervention, the party embraced the meme of limited government and states' rights. This shift was particularly prominent under Reagan's presidency, where a focus on fiscal conservatism, tax cuts, and deregulation represented a departure from the "Red party's" earlier position.


This process of memetic evolution underscores that the survival of the political party, or meme complex, often takes precedence over individual ideologies. The parties' transformations were responses to changing societal pressures and cultural context. They had to adapt and evolve to ensure their survival, even if it meant a complete ideological turnaround.


In the case of the "Blue party," its survival necessitated the New Deal, even though it went contrary to their earlier resistance to strong federal intervention. Similarly, the "Red party's" survival necessitated the adoption of “anti-civil rights” and limited government simply as a way to contrast itself with the then dominant Blue party, despite its previous stance initially advocating for the abolition of slavery, and a strong federal intervention during Reconstruction.


This viewpoint underscores that changes in political ideologies aren't solely the outcome of a consciously implemented top-down approach, but rather a reaction to evolving societal pressures and cultural landscapes. Consequently, the seeming alignment of the "Red party" of yesteryears with the "Blue party" of today, and vice versa, is best comprehended within the context of memetic survival within an ever-changing sociopolitical climate.


When these ideological shifts are observed from the standpoint of individuals voters, politicians, or the media, they can appear bewildering and complex. However, if we take a step back to visualize memes as active participants in a survival contest, we begin to recognize the logic behind political evolution. This becomes clear in light of societal pressures and each party's inherent need to adapt accordingly.


The ongoing dynamic evolution of memes constantly reshapes each party's platform. This adaptability is a testament to the fundamental nature of memes, which is to respond to their environmental pressures.


It is vital to understand that the influence of memes reaches far beyond simple slogan changes within political parties. Memes actively reshape the makeup of party supporters, transform viewpoints of leadership, redefine regional alliances, and even bring about dramatic reversals in long-held ideological stances. The Party, in essence, is not defined by any specific group of voters, leaders, regions, or ideologies at any given time, but rather by the overarching meme that holds these components together. This is a fluid, ever-changing entity, with parts constantly moving in and out, adapting and evolving in response to new challenges and opportunities. Every individual component is susceptible to change to ensure the survival of this central meme complex. This constant evolution emphasizes the inherent resilience and adaptability that characterizes the memetic evolution within political ideologies.


While it might be tempting to condemn “The Media,” it's essential to remember that they too are trapped in this memetic game. Even a media outlet committed to producing "healthy news" would struggle in a market dominated by emotion-stirring content. On the rare occasion they survive, the very virality of the inflammatory stories circulated by other outlets becomes news in itself due to its impact on public opinion.


In the following sections, we'll explore potential solutions to this issue. However, it's crucial to understand that it will take a collective effort to overcome these entrenched patterns. To move forward, we need to stop laying blame on individuals and to take responsibility as citizens. We are all entwined in this system, and it's the meme complexes that benefit from our infighting. Solutions exist and are worth exploring, but it will require a collective effort. So long as the voters blame the politicians and the media, the media blames the voters and politicians, and the politicians blame the voters and media, we will continue to chase our own tails while the memes thrive at our expense. It's time to stop pointing fingers and start rolling up our sleeves.



A Corruption of Ideals


The current state of heightened political polarization represents a distortion of democracy's fundamental tenets. It's essential to emphasize that this corruption isn't explicit moral failings, like financial fraud or power abuse, often featured in scandalous headlines. Instead, it resembles a form of “data corruption” within our societal software, subtly skewing the original political discourse away from upholding and refining our democratic ideals, and toward sensational and scandalous headlines.


Our democracy, established upon principles of liberty and justice, was designed to promote equality, tolerance, and a free exchange of ideas. Similarly, the Right and the Left COULD work together to create a harmonious balance between tradition and progress. However, the prevalent division and animosity signal a gradual distortion of these founding principles we honor and social ideals we’re striving for.


This polarization is a systemic issue, not born out of ill-intentioned individuals, but originating from the structures and mechanics of the systems in place. Even well-meaning voters, media outlets, and politicians may inadvertently contribute to this polarization, driven by the two-party system's pressures and constraints. The “us-versus-them” mentality undermines the core values of cooperation, understanding, and mutual respect that are a prerequisite to being an informed citizen, informative media outlet, or an effective policy maker.


The challenge before us is not about correcting individuals or parties, but acknowledging and addressing the systemic factors that breed division and hostility over dialogue and cooperation. The path towards a healthier democracy lies in our ability to identify these challenges and implement reforms that realign with the original intent of our democratic ideals, ensuring the sustainability of our democracy.



Potential Solutions - Single Transferable Vote


In light of the systemic challenges faced by our current political landscape, we need to contemplate potential solutions. One such solution lies in a change of voting system, namely the adoption of the Single Transferable Vote (STV). This is certainly not the only option, there is Rank Voting, or Approval Voting, and many others, but we will explore STV as an option to demonstrate a “systemic change” for the purposes of this article.


The STV system is a form of proportional representation which allows for a more diverse political representation. Unlike traditional voting where individuals cast a ballot for a single candidate, voters in the STV system rank the candidates in order of preference. If a voter's top choice doesn't garner enough votes to be elected, their vote is then transferred to their second preference, and so on, until all seats are filled. This ensures a greater variety of opinions can be represented and accommodates the influence of smaller parties and independent candidates.


More importantly, the STV could yield more nuanced data about voter preferences, which could in turn help reduce polarization. It allows voters to express a spectrum of political beliefs rather than forcing a binary choice, leading to a richer and more accurate reflection of the electorate's views.


Moreover, the dynamics of the STV system encourage candidates to authentically express their beliefs, instead of rigidly adhering to a party line. The necessity to appeal beyond their base, to secure second and third preference votes, necessitates a broader, more inclusive approach. This means that candidates cannot simply take for granted the base of their party, but need to sincerely address a variety of voters' concerns and values.


This, in turn, can lead to a shift towards more constructive and diverse political discourse. It creates an environment where candidates are incentivized to avoid divisive rhetoric and seek common ground. Consequently, it might foster a healthier political dialogue where perspectives are broadened and the electorate feels more genuinely represented.



Conclusion


As we navigate our increasingly polarized sociopolitical landscape, it's crucial that we understand the systemic factors that have contributed to this divide. Our exploration has traced the roots of polarization back to the formation and functioning of the two-party system catalyzed by our electoral process. We’ve also highlighted how even well-intentioned systems can inadvertently encourage division and competition, not just among voters, but between the public and the very bureaucrats that serve them.


Change, however, is within reach. The Single Transferable Vote system offers one potential path forward. Such systemic changes could provide more nuanced representation of diverse political views, reducing polarization and facilitating healthier discourse.


However, it's not just about introducing new voting systems, but about fundamentally transforming the way we understand and participate in our democracy. An essential part of the process lies in a fundamental shift in our understanding of politics and our role within it. This involves a more comprehensive understanding of memetic evolution, and its role in shaping political ideologies and movements. As citizens, we need to cultivate an understanding of how memes influence our political environment and the ideologies we subscribe to, guiding us to participate in our civic duties as statesman rather than mere party supporters.


Education about memetic evolution allows us to engage in political discourse with an understanding of how our beliefs, values, and ideologies are shaped by memetic forces. With this awareness, we can critically assess political information, identify polarizing influences, and make more informed decisions that reflect our individual and collective interests rather than the agenda of divisive memes. This involves acknowledging that our opponents are not our enemies, and understanding that politics is not just about winning, but about crafting balanced policies that address our collective interests.


Let's not just contemplate potential benefits of systemic changes; let's actively work towards implementing them. The future of our political discourse, and our democracy, depends on it. As we move forward, let's remember that diversity of thought is not a threat, but a strength - it's the crucible in which our collective wisdom is forged. Equally important is the preservation and respect for our shared traditions, for they anchor us in our values and provide continuity as we navigate change. Balancing our respect for tradition and openness to diversity will lead to a more robust, representative, and resilient democracy.


“THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny [of Partisanism], like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” -Thomas Paine, 11,776HE.





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Anca Middelkoop
Anca Middelkoop
23 июл. 2023 г.

Very well written article! You offer a few fresh perspectives, in my estimation, to understand polarization. On the one hand you offer the taoist lens of underlying unity as a way of transcending polarization and on the other hand you identify the memetic mechanism that perpetuates the fragmentation.

I would be curious to know if you could identify other cultural mechanisms that transcend memetics. Are spiritual systems and beliefs made of a different substance than political memes?

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Upaya The Fool
Upaya The Fool
23 июл. 2023 г.
Ответ пользователю

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and question! 🙏😎


Your question about the potential transcending elements of memetics is an insightful one and one that I don't think I could answer definitively. But, I have been pondering along similar lines. While I'm not a huge fan of the nature vs. nurture terminology, I do believe that with a perfect understanding of genetics and memetics, we could, in theory, fully grasp the human condition. But we are far from this understanding, especially when it comes to the newer and more embryonic concept of memetics, though strides have been significant in genetic understanding.


Trying to draw a parallel with genetics, I've been musing about the idea that elements such as logos, ethos,…


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