Bad Ideas

Posted on


Chris Hayes tweeted yesterday “Hard at moments of maximum polarization to retain an open mind and not demonize ideological foes. It’s Power we stand against, not people.”

It’s a nice sentiment. But I think it also reflects a widespread tendency in political dialogue to underrate the idea that actual mistakes and bad ideas are a source of political problems. It gets easy to think that the broad public’s ignorance is irremediable and the elites on “the other side” are either hopelessly corrupt or else hopelessly stupid. But if I think about myself, I think I’m constantly improving my own understanding of politics and policy. Does that mean I was hopelessly corrupt or hopelessly stupid 18 months ago? I don’t think I was. So why should anyone else be any different? It’s always possible to improve my own understanding and so I hope other people’s understanding can and will be improved too. Meanwhile, sixty years ago most adults hadn’t finished high school while even today a large share of adults can’t read which is going to be a large barrier to both the formation and the expression of sound political ideas. But these are remediable problems, just as I could (and should! and will!) obtain actual information about what Swedish labor unions do instead of speculating as I do in the post below this one.