How do Political Beliefs Change?
By Arnold Kling
it looks bad to admit we do politics to selfishly show off, instead of to help society make better policy. So we are built to instead talk, and think, as if we do politics for its influence on policy; we are built to be self-deceived about how politics matters to us.
Robin asks what leads people to change their minds about political issues. He concludes,
What facts could pedophiles or polygamists teach us to change our minds about them? The idea that we choose our coalitions to identify with impressive allies seems a less troubled explanation. Impressive gay activists made gays into impressive allies; pedophiles will not gain approval until their activists are similarly impressive.
Somehow, homosexuality went from being low-status to high-status. Robin is saying that if pedophilia or polygamy could cross that chasm, then political rights for pedophiles or polygamists would be a popular cause.
Over the past year, the status of private-sector leaders has gone down (think of AIG or General Motors). The status of political leaders has gone up (Obama vs. Bush). As a result, the progressives are on the march.
From the perspective of what I call civil societarianism, heroes are those who dedicate their own resources to pursue worthwhile objectives, using private businesses, schools, and charities. Villains are the progressives who insist that the pursuit of worthwhile objectives requires confiscating the resources of others.