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The Joiner's Dilemma - Scott Adams' Blog

The Joiner’s Dilemma

I’m not a member of a political party. That’s intentional. Once you pick a side you lose the ability to reason and you start agreeing with whatever dumbass thing your team supports. Whenever I explain my reasons for not joining a political party, people scoff. So here’s some recent science that supports my view. It turns out that people rationalize whatever their political party supports independent of the facts. And it’s easy to test.

By the way, that’s something I learned the first day of hypnosis school thirty years ago. If people were rational, hypnosis wouldn’t work. Hypnosis depends on people being influenced by associations as opposed to reason.

Our two-party system of politics kills any hope for reasoned debate. So how could one fix that situation?

My idea is that as President of the United States I would support the majority opinion on every topic with my veto powers and my legislative initiatives while vigorously supporting the argument of the opposite side. Think of it like a defense attorney who doesn’t believe his client is innocent but he makes the best defense case he can.

Under this plan, if my active support for the minority view can elevate it to a majority view, it means something was wrong with the majority view in the first place. If my efforts can’t move the needle on a debate, that’s probably for the best.

As President, I’d be doing less leading and more framing and informing. Once people get the idea that my personal opinions on issues are irrelevant, I’d gain credibility for objectivity and for always shining a fair light on opposition views. That seems healthy.

Obviously there would be some cases in which this plan doesn’t work. If the public is 99% on one side of an issue and the only opponents are neo-Nazis, I’d probably take a pass on supporting the opposition. So let’s call my plan more of a general approach than a hard rule. It needs some wiggle room to work in the real world.

As president, I wouldn’t fudge any facts in the arguments I promoted. I’d be arguing with data only. And I’d acknowledge that the future is unpredictable, so no one really knows what plan will work best. My support of the minority view would often take the form of a conditional statement such as “If you think income equality is more important in the long run than short term economic growth, you should favor policy X.”

So what do you think? Could you live with a president who always acted with the majority while arguing for the minority? And what would be the downside of the plan?