Voting – a prime example of “reasoning under uncertainty”

I assume that if I accepted your premises, both implicit & explicit, I’d also describe your POTUS candidate as the only viable choice.

But those premises will necessarily involve a great deal of what we call “reasoning under uncertainty.”

This is to say that the causal chains between a given POTUS vote & various un/desirable outcomes are very tenuous. This is also to recognize that the individual acts of all persons involved in effecting those un/desirable outcomes are highly contingent.

Ergo, very intelligent persons of incredibly profound goodwill, who even share identical values vis a vis un/desirable outcomes, can thus differ in their POTUS choices, everyone doing so in an eminently reasonable way.

As for any alleged character-based disqualifying criteria, those are much less compelling, generally, to those who are voting pragmatically rather than expressively. Increasingly, nowadays, voting expressively, based on a candidate’s character (note below), seems to be an increasingly rare opportunity?

Practical Take-Aways:

Intellectually, we should all better realize that our prudential judgments regarding political solutions can be very highly speculative. There are ordinarily so many unknowns regarding the probability of un/desired outcomes that a high level of confidence in one’s political approach is seldom warranted and arrogance is never warranted. And if this is true regarding so very many political objectives, which are way underdetermined, it’s especially the case regarding ultimate policy goals as measurable outcomes, which are most often way overdetermined, all of this also subject to indeterminable counterfactual analyses.

Interpersonally, we should primarily focus on the values & love that we certainly share with family, friends, co-religionists, neighbors & associates. In my view, that thoroughly suffices!

Precisely because of the hyper-speculative nature of political prudential judgments, it’s to be expected and should be unsurprising, when, among those very same people, those judgments are not uniformly shared.

None of this is to suggest that our political prudential judgments do not matter or cannot make a difference. They indeed contribute to a collective wisdom that, when it does go astray, inevitably corrects (depending on the cultural milieu, e.g. modern democracy vs tribal, this can be in a single cycle, hopefully not multi-generational epochs!).

It is to observe that, if you find yourself overinvested emotionally or, worse, at risk of relationship breaches regarding your political dis/agreements, it could very well be due to the fact that you have equally overestimated your intellectual acumen (at least, politically).

Certain candidates may evoke significant emotional responses in us for various reasons, as with any other personalities. Because important values are often involved in our political assessments, this can add emotional energy to our experience of electoral outcomes and to the pols, themselves. We might even marvel at why others don’t experience the same degree of attraction or revulsion to a given person as we do. That mystery can be understood, in part, by the fact that, while certain emotions are cerebral and can be rationally accounted for upon self-reflection, some of our emotional responses are visceral and don’t lend themselves to an intellectual accounting (not without deep-dives into our unconscious). The more forceful and immediate our response to a given politician, then, the less we should be surprised when many others don’t share it, because, notwithstanding our inventory of otherwise justifiable cerebral emotions, the greater will be the likelihood that much (in various degrees) of our attraction or revulsion is visceral, which can leave it no more accountable for itself than any other matter of mere taste. And it certainly means we shouldn’t expect others to be able to give a rational accounting of their own lack of a visceral experience thereof!

There’s a book I intend to procure called Longing and Letting Go: Christian and Hindu Practices of Passionate Non-Attachment, written by Holly Hillgardner. In it she describes passionate non-attachment. That paradoxical concept sounds to me like a great religious prescription for what ails us in life, in general, politics, in particular? Hillgardner suggests that authentic practices of longing will always contain the seeds of non-attachment, i.e. the letting go of cravings, aversions, fears, and false identities that keep the self bound in an illusory self-possession that walls it off from others. Sounds relevant, n’est pas?

Note: Voting expressively can, among many other strategies, also include voicing one’s prophetic issue-based stance (even independent of a candidate’s character).

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