“I believe that for politically-engaged Americans today, ideology has become a powerful marker of identity. Ps, Cs, and Ls are now rivalrous, hostile tribes. As such, they have developed linguistic differences and negative stereotypes of one another, which the three-axis model can help to articulate. Within a tribe, political language is used to reassure others of one’s loyalty to the tribe, to lift one’s status within the tribe, and to whip up hostility against other tribes.”
Kling then goes on to identify a truly depressing aspect of this situation! The political leaders and pundits of each tribe are more likely to be actively encouraging us in close-minded adherence to our tribal affiliations.
“Consider three goals that a political pundit might have. One goal is to open the minds of people on the other side. Another goal might be to open the minds of people on your own side. A third goal might be to close the minds of people on your own side. Nearly all of the punditry that appears in the various media today serves only the third goal. The pundits act as if what they fear most is that their followers will open their minds to alternative points of view. To me, these media personalities appear to be fighting a constant battle to keep their followers’ minds closed. The saddest part is that I believe that they are succeeding. Political polarization seems to get stronger each year.”
And we ourselves are more likely to use political reasoning to arrive at a state of what Kling refers to as “closure.”
“This [closure] is a state in which we have eliminated any cognitive dissonance between our tribal affiliation and our beliefs about a particular issue. When our tribe has a stance on an issue, and some fact or analysis threatens to undermine that belief, this creates cognitive dissonance. Getting rid of that dissonance becomes a priority. We summon our reasoning to fend off the threatening information the way that a homeowner might summon the police to fend off an intruder. An important part of the process of attaining closure is demonstrating the disreputable nature of those supplying the threatening information.”
Okay, I said that there is hope. Click here: Goto Page 4
Or, you can listen to a video presentation by Arnold Kling on the Three Languages of Politics here.