The Limits Of Ideological Voting

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

Patrick writes:
Unwavering ideological voting, of the sort Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich exhibit, is the exception in politics for good reason.
Unwavering ideological voting is also an exception because it is usually unserious and lazy.  It is normally cast as a struggling individual hewing to his/her principles, but the world we live in is not some theoretical construct, and unwavering ideology is simply not a logical method for governing.  Problems generally require serious grappling for understanding and solutions, not a pre-existing formula.  Paul and Kucinich have difficulty extending their appeal beyond their strong supporters because of this reality, not because of special interests.
Frankly, it is this mindset-- that ideologies remain constant and that a chosen ideology can be applied to any problems-- that is at the heart of our sorry public discourse.  When issues are always presented as a choice between two (and it is always two) competing ideologies, then they can be discussed with almost no knowledge of the issues at hand.  Witness our Sunday talk shows, where guests (who are often experts in one field) pontificate on other topics in which they have absolutely no background.  They can do this because the debate is framed only in terms of ideology and political gamesmanship, which requires no new investigation or education, only a background in ideology that may have been gained decades ago.  As a result, we are often dumber for having watched.