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The Big Picture, 2018

Entry 1958, on 2018-12-31 at 22:33:57 (Rating 3, Politics)

Well, here we are again, at the end of another year, and this is my final post for 2018. So what are the defining characterics of the year? Well, I could do my usual thing and discuss cool new technology, new science, or other extremely relevant stuff, but why not instead talk about the big political picture?

The real major political theme from the year I think is divisiveness. Some people might disagree and say the bigger problem is the increasing influence of nationalistic right-wing politics, but I think that is just one symptom of the real issue. Because the left are becoming increasingly extreme at least as much as the right, so how can one side be entirely to blame?

For many people there seems to be no room for compromise or moderation. I see myself as a moderate, and I have had major disagreements with both sides of the political spectrum, even when I really try to discuss issues from a fairly central perspective. But it never seems to matter how fair and reasonable I am, I can never make enough concessions to appease the extremists: either the social justice warriors or the far-right nutters.

So if a rational moderate, like myself, cannot find any point of agreement with people whose opinions differ from mine by just half the width of the political spectrum, what chance do people from the two extremes have?

There seems to be very little chance because I think the two extremes have got to their radical positions in reaction to their opponents. For example, the more the left become politically correct and defend those they see as disadvantaged minorities, the more the right have to reject affirmative action and similar interventions. And as the right deny privileges to minorities the left feel a greater need to defend them.

So Donald Trump isn't the cause of the problems with US politics, he is the result. I heard today a rather good expression of this which was something like: people voted for Trump because they hated Clinton so much that they voted for someone they hated even more just to make a point. While this can be seen as just a cute platitude, I think it has an element of truth too.

Note that I'm not saying one side is correct and the other wrong, and that's the real problem. They're both wrong, and that makes the problem so much harder to fix.

Even to a moderate, it's not clear where the correct balance lies on many of the most significant issues, such as immigration. It seems that building a wall might not be the best answer, but making immigration easier and especially allowing more refugees (either real or fake) into Western countries also seems like it is a bad idea. Yet there don't seem to be many people discussing intermediate policies on this subject.

The problem seems to be that no one wants to find the best solution, or to find a point of agreement with their opponents. In fact, the right seem to prefer their own facts, perpetuated by fake news, and the left seem to want to shut down alternative views by blocking free speech.

If this is the theme of 2018, is it likely to get better in 2019? Well, that seems a bit implausible, in fact it seems more likely it will get worse. So no matter how bad you think things were this year, you'd better prepare for even more crazy stuff starting tomorrow!


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Comment 2 (4979) by OJB on 2019-01-09 at 15:26:51:

I wrote the blog system myself and it runs on an old Mac Pro in my basement. I do have a major advantage over other blogging systems: I only host my site here, so I only get a few thousand (or maybe a few 10s of thousands) of page views per day.

I also blog at WordPress and it seems to work pretty well. Many people host normal web sites there too, so I guess it's OK. It really depends on what you want to achieve though, like do you need back-end databases, on-line commerce, advanced scripting, etc.


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