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A Guide to Your Political Orientation: The Danger of Getting Stuck in a Box

A Guide to Your Political Orientation:
The Danger of Getting Stuck in a Box

Politics is an integrated part of life for each and every individual; no matter if the person is invested in the latest political shifts or not. As a result of the inevitable, people tend to have a political orientation, sometimes even fixation, depending on their age, status, job, interests, environment, past, present, future and many more factors. Nevertheless, is cherishing a political fixation suitable for today’s world? How should one have a consistent ideology when all is defined by uniqueness?

Politics is “the art or science of government” or even more directly put: “the total complex of relations between people living in society”, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Our political orientation is a complex result of our life circumstances. However, the two of them can cause cognitive dissonance: values can crash with interests at times. Chances are that a morally right direction can counteract interests - might that be economic or other ones - at certain times. Certainly, politics is an entangled matter as millions of unique individuals must see eye to eye on complex questions. The naked truth is that this one little noun: politics has ruined families, friendships, and other relations at the hands of pitiful arguments about big decisions. 

In 2003, Greenberg, J., & Jonas, E. executed research regarding the need for political attachment, either left or right. They “proposed that political conservatism uniquely serves epistemic, existential, and ideological needs driven by fears and uncertainties”. As fear triggers the most ancient part of the human brain, the Reptilian Brain, the need for political determination is, in a way, rooted in the purpose of survival. Naturally, this can be seen as an understatement in regard to all the complicated affairs of today’s society. Regardless, it serves us with a raw understanding of the force that drives people to engage in a political view. A political standing is mostly grounded in values that uphold the individual interests of a person. 

There are various online platforms providing tests to identify political directions. By answering a thoroughly constructed set of questions, the algorithm can calculate the user's attitude to the world. Even though these analyses can be fairly accurate, they still show only a momentary image of one’s political standing. The ever-changing human emotions can alter the outcome by the next day. Given the rapid paste of events occurring, no one can guarantee the reflection of a persistent value system. 

Political fixation can narrow worldviews and generate a stubborn, closed mindset. This tendency is backed up by research that Markus Kemmelmeier and Jesse Acosta conducted this year. They draw attention to the situation in the US; how the two large political groups created a bipolar society. Interestingly, people are profoundly alike when it comes to political fixation and holding the truth. Merely, humans just do not like to be wrong. The longing to be right hides itself in people and can prevent them from practising critical thinking.

Many tend to forget that political objectives are highly sensitive to numerous factors. Even when choosing the lesser of two (or more) evils, people can interpret the opposing partner as a fool for not being in line with them. Becoming small-minded in politics is not rare. Meghan Murphy, journalist and writer, claims in a podcast episode that political labelling is enclosing people in a limited box. There is a much greater chance to learn or understand something when the possibility of being mistaken is on the table. 

It is essential to mention that “deep-rooted values influence social, political and economic changes” in societies. The dominant opinion of the public pressures decision-making bodies. Despite the fact that these societal shifts are hardly measured, they accumulate an immense force. This force can be either feared or exploited by a political party, depending on the extent to which society can be led by its nose. Yet another reason to closely examine individual political orientations. Does the very own reflect personal values or just an automatic reflex based on a label? 

The heart of the matter is that contemporary politics is not black and white. With this basic and dull idea in mind, politics wished to be a subject that was approached with an open mind and critical thinking. Leaning towards a political orientation is no sin, with the condition of continuously and systematically examining alternatives and options considering the world’s dynamic features. 


Edited by: Tom Culf

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