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How and in what ways can we make US politics more orientated to reason and compassion?

How and in what ways can we make US politics more orientated to reason and compassion?
The bridging between conservatives and liberal points of view. Why there is at times an absence of compassion and reason of our elected leaders of government.

  • Sep 15 2011: It has been argued that modern political leaders aren't elected but selected.
    The selection is done by powerful institutions and corporations and it starts very early on in a politician's career. Political campaigns are tricky, expensive affairs and no matter how compassionate a politician's motive's might be when first entering politics, he or she will have to decide between a career compromised by the interest of his backers, and no career at all. Hence, by the time we come to vote for them their appearance and personality is all that separates them. As for their election promises, Obama's foreign policy tells us all we need to know.
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    Sep 13 2011: Someone once said that America is great because America is good. If America ever stops being good it will also stop being great (or words to that effect). When America loses its goodness (and Wall Street is leading you away from goodness constantly with the drive for profit without conscience) the whole world loses light because you have so much power.

    I think the only thing that will change the situation is a grass roots movement which has teeth and consequences (even if its just a nibble). I think that everyone should try to file their taxes one day late to make a clear statement. If everyone (or as many as possible) make that sort of statement of turning off the tap they might get it. Perhaps insisting that no politician could serve consecutive terms might make a difference too. I also think that you have to begin to make politicians declare the involvement of PR firms and demand more of your news media in vetting what politicians say. In context and without further spin, journalists could really help straighten things out but as it stands they are part of the current problem. BILL O'Reilly has an audience among thinking people? YIKES!

    It is a tough problem and the rest of the world really needs you guys to find a way to get your government on track. You did so well and had so much optimism in choosing Obama. I hope you find the courage and the will power to keep the optimism and take it a step further.
    • Sep 13 2011: I really like the whole grassroots movement idea. =)
      At least something that we can all agree on is accountability on the part of our government and politics that such an idea would work. Something simple such as filing your taxes one day late is a proclamation on our part that the silliness of our politics is well silly.
  • Sep 10 2011: Elect individuals that would rather be happy than right, as well as individuals that consider the majority first, not the resourceful. If corporate income tax is 35%, how did GE pay none and also get a 6 billion subsidy from the government. Perhaps they have a team of lawyers and ex-government people that know all the tricks. Do these tricks help any human beings, outside of those in charge of the corporation.
    Therefore it is each citizens job to do the research on who(m) they vote for, not the CNN headlines, or any pundit that can act like they are telling the truth, dig, and find out if what they are saying is true. Also we must be patient with those we do elect, as things may have been said that can not be done in a changing or hostile political arena, like the one that exists today, lines drawn, and no one willing to take the path of compassion, only the path based on image.
    • Sep 12 2011: Yes..the voters should definitely dig deep into any politician. But they should also dig deep into other issues as well. When talking about liberals and conservatives both these groups should try to understand one another before they rip each other apart. You mention the subsidy for GE; clearly a lack of reasonableness on our politics, but I guess what I'm getting at is that there so many more examples in which there is a lack of reason and empathy that there needs to be various solutions. Especially in America.
      • Sep 13 2011: interesting, i gave up on politics years ago, yet when Bush 2 became president i started reading, as well as al jezeera, and the guardian. i found Patrick Buchanan, as a contributor to their website (antiwar), and Justin Raimondo, a conservative, and a Libertarian, the managing editor. I found that i could agree on some issues with both of them, and that for me there was no knee jerk reaction. Yet this political situation we live in now, is knee jerk politics. So the question is not one of power, but of what is best for the tribe, and our elders are not acting for the good of the tribe. so how do people that see things with some sort of reason, and that are looking for a middle ground, become heard. The demographics of blue and red states suggests that the bulk of the americans that live in the middle of the country are the most afraid of being hurt by whatever, and perhaps that fear is what drives their agenda, and how does one explain fear to a fearful individual? i agree about empathy, yet i do not see it in politics, only outside that arena.
        • Sep 13 2011: Then maybe we can assume that one of the causes of a lack of empathy and reason (besides the money of course) is fear. The unwillingness to see what the other has to say due to pretty much whatever. And social media at times, (or you could say most of the time) doesn't help!
          And the satisfaction one gets from being part of a group like right wing instead of left wing..etc etc etc.l
  • Sep 8 2011: We could stop electing professional politicians.
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    Sep 7 2011: If I look into all that what is necessary to become nominated for election it is clear to me that reason and compassion aren't the best qualities to bring you there. You may call this artificial selection.
    If the general public grows more compassionate and reasonable politicians have to reflect that to stay in power.
  • Sep 7 2011: I wish it were only as easy as saying elect reasonable and compassionate people. I really do.
  • Oct 4 2011: I believe that voters who are less afraid and unhappy will make better choices. Particularly, people who work jobs they dislike for alpha primates more interested in dominance displays than in using reason to persuade kindly will not be in a mood to extend those benefits---or any others---to people they don't know who seem very different to them.

    People, especially men, who feel that they have been denied their rightful place in the social hierarchy become extremely sensitive to anyone they believe "think they're better than me". This is not a bad thing, but it has a tendency to shade into "noöne's expertise is superior to mine". Note that the successful commentators of the Right generally present themselves as being 'just normal slobs' who say the things 'everyone'/'all Real Americans' (which set is disjoint from men with names like 'Alinsky') all 'know' to be true.

    Mark Ames has persuasively argued that in the absence of the belief that real change is possible, many Americans are in fact voting reasonably because the best use they can see for their vote is to spite those they think give themselves airs...and I believe this increases the odds that these people will remain afraid and frustrated.
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    Sep 14 2011: A good friend from TED, Michael M. just sent me a link that I think might be really informative for this discussion. It is a Charlie Rose interview with Nassim Taleb on economics.
    If you are interested please follow this link:
    • Sep 20 2011: Love that show. It was quite informative indeed. Nassim Taleb sounds like someone Obama can use in his administration.

      Here's an interesting one as well:
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        Sep 20 2011: Thank you very much for this interesting link Kevin! It is great to hear two people discuss this seriously.
  • Sep 14 2011: Throw out the Saul Alinsky handbook. Throw out the politicians who use it. If you don't know who they are... do some reading, and get educated.
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    Sep 13 2011: Free schooling and free press, for a start (objective History books, Media and Purgatory for CEO's of Corporations killing slowly).

    free hand-outs on how to spot healthy people in politics (the non-psychopaths)
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    Sep 7 2011: Great question. I can't answer specifically for the US but I certainly think it can generally apply to a lot of politics.

    I think an important thing to remember about any democratic type government is that they should be carrying out the requirements and demands of those that they represent. The government then has to weigh up all demands and then hopefully act accordingly. I'm guessing that this is where the problem starts: there simply isn't enough pressure on the government to be compassionate. Right now there are so many issues the government is called to address, many of which may conflict with compassion.

    So I think reason is a very clear requirement of governments but this reason is directed towards many requirements. One such requirement may be pure economic growth. This growth may, and very often does, come at the expense of others. The requirement is therefore not very compassionate but it certainly has reason.

    Ultimately I'd have to say it's going to have to be the people and organisations that the government serve that need to shift to compassion before the government forces it.
    • Sep 12 2011: And it certainly doesn't help that our politicians can't compromise on any such demands. Maybe politics is not the best arena for compassion to thrive, and the influx of money into the equation makes it worse. I def agree with you on that last part. We have to start shifting our focus more to compassion as a society at large no matter what state or country.