Partisanship Is Emotion Not Thought
We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning. What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up… Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidascope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones.
I’ve always felt that political parties exist as practical mechanisms for organizing a movement and advancing a specific political agenda. In a representative government, you must elect candidates to advance a political agenda. To elect candidates, you must organize support and fundraising. This is the function the party serves. Party members come together, agree on leadership and a platform of ideas to advance, then work together to elect candidates to advance the platform.
But for many political parties are, well, a party. It’s a social club. A way to have fun and network with like-minded people, and something to be defended against critics whatever their criticisms. For these people, it’s almost as though the platform is inconsequential as long as the group itself survives and serves their social and networking needs. They’re for whatever agenda it takes to enlarge the size and influence of their specific social sphere.
And this isn’t limited to just Republicans or just Democrats, or even just political parties. I’ve met Libertarians and Green Party members who are ever bit as partisan as Republicans and Democrats, and loyalty to the group or collective over loyalty to the cause is readily apparent in other circumstances such as religion.
For many people, being part of a group is more important than what that group stands for.Tags: democrats, partisanship, republicans