Thursday, June 8, 2017

political parties vs. religion (and political ideology vs. religious beliefs)

WHAT DO POLITICAL PARTIES (PP's) AND RELIGIONS HAVE IN COMMON? (To clarify: Political parties would be related to [but distinguished from] political ideology-- as religions : religious beliefs.)

-PP's are a bigger dog's breakfast of beliefs, given the need to reduce, mostly, to two camps. Religion allows people to self-select into smaller, purer groups. (So, are we talking about "denominations" [where people almost-casually move around and leave the tribe] or religions [where people leave less often-- but still more often than within politics]?)
-Political parties are looking to use the force of govt on others (or avoid its use on them). With the winner/loser outcomes, you get much more of a "sports team" comparison. Religion starts with self; its direct impact on others is usually modest; its indirect impact is larger. Unless combined with govt and politics, it's much more about persuasion than compulsion and coercion.

-Is there generally more fervor within politics? Seems so today, but I'm not sure about generally. Probably not-- only if there's enough at stake and "the game" is close. Both rely on mostly-voluntary donations to overcome the "free rider problem" (although this characteristic goes far beyond politics and religion). I don't know the numbers, but I'd guess religions are far more "successful" by this metric. Both have emotive rallies and revered forefathers and /founders.

-There's probably more self-righteousness among the avid in politics, probably because there is no (religious) check on pride or self-r, no clear connection to love and morals, etc.

-There's more ignorance (although rationally so) in politics. In politics, the connection of ideology to your personal life and your beliefs to changing the system/outcomes are minimal, so people (rationally) don't invest as much thought there. 

-Interestingly, given the reputation of religion: the levels of faith might be the same-- or ironically, faith within politics could be higher. On the one hand, religions are interested in things that are less concrete, more subjective, more super-natural-- things that, at least initially, may require more faith. But in politics, people invest far less time in politics AND public policy. So, they end up relying on faith to draw their inferences (or something akin to faith, for those who are allergic to the term).

-Likewise...In politics: unless one has big resources, one can't do much to influence the process. In religion: because it's personal, it can deliver a lot, assuming modest investments. 

-If there's more knowledge and effort to think within religion, we probably find more people who purposefully pick-and-choose within their knowledge-- "cafeteria believers". If there's less knowledge in politics, partisan hackery should be more prevalent.

-More generational continuity through families in politics. Because religion generally promotes more thought (given what's at stake for the individual), people walk away from their parents' religion more often that their parents' politics.

-Religion has a greater cultural element, so you end up with more culturally-religious (than culturally-political) types.

-In American Christianity right now, we're seeing a decline in "broad" numbers, but arguably, no change or an increase in avid participation. Over time, after a 20 year decrease, participation (proxied by voting) has returned to earlier levels. At least in this election, we saw, I think, a drop in avid supporters (partisans), given the lousy candidates who were nominated. But I don't know what this means for the near-term future of American politics. 


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