Sunday, October 19, 2008

EMOTIONS

Emotions are notoriously bad counselors. The heat of passion is much more likely to produce regret than glory. It should be remembered that animals have emotions, but this fact does not seem to have contributed much to the collective achievements of the animal kingdom. One typically looks first to the level-headed for direction in a crisis; likewise, chldren are apt to have their conduct directed by emotional wants, a trait that necessitates the involvement of grown-ups in the more crucial decisions.

The pursuit of emotional satisfaction far too often leads to folly and pain, yet a great deal of political discourse targetss emotional chords. This is particularly true in the present campaign, where such airy and vacant themes of change and hope are the center of the debate. It is not cynical to observe that that the vilification of Sarah Palin, the visceral hatred of all things Bush, and the irrational platitudes goading class warfare are appeals to emotion rather than thought. This is not likely to turn out well.

The politics of the moment seek to apply the formidable intellectual, economic and cultural resources of the United States to the ultimate end that persons who share a particular ideology will feel good about themselves. We really aren't being courted by "Change we can believe in" as much as "Change we can feel good about."

Just as the president has very little control over economic cycles (the NASDAQ lost 45% of its value under President Clinton), a president (at least with due respect for the Constitution) can't really deliver on promises of self esteem, or ensure that the emotional tantrums of an ideological fringe will have better uutcomes than the emotional tantrums of preschoolers.

There is a segment of the American Left that wants war-crimes trials, that wants Wall Street executives frog marched on the evening news for the sheer schadenfreud of it. They want to name sewage plants ofter George W. Bush, and "ban" the military from their communities because they think that childish emotions must lead to eternal truths. Of course, those that look to a "progressive" government for progress and emotional satisfaction will be disappointed. The world is too complex and too dangerous to allow serious leaders to accede to the emotional outbursts of angry and unhappy people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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