Is There Room for Curiosity in Politics?

“Hmm… that’s odd.”

This is what I think of as the inquisitive response, a cognitive tool of sorts that has served civilization pretty well over the years. Humans are a curious bunch, broadly speaking, and the exploration of those curiosities has led to eureka moments and massive breakthroughs in all kinds of areas: medicine, engineering, transportation, computing, chemistry, energy… pretty much any given field you can think of.

But not politics. 

For some reason, politics is different from any other area of human interaction. In other endeavors, we react to surprises with curiosity and note any quirks as something to look into. But in politics, we have a very different response to unexpected behavior: outrage. We will watch the other side respond to the same events as us, but with completely different reactions — reactions that seem borderline nonsensical. But instead of the inquisitive response, the typical counter is not to investigate further, but to mark the political opponent as a bad person, to shout them down, to shut them out.

To that I say, “Hmm… that’s odd.”

While I could probably venture a few guesses, I can’t pretend to know exactly why politics is so different than anything else. But I do know that the outcome is not good. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that our politics has become increasingly unhealthy. Injecting a little curiosity into our political system isn’t going to fix that outright, but I plan on trying it out and seeing what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

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