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News Possible to make political choices without having a political ideology

  1. Nov 8, 2009 #1
    Does anyone believe that it is possible to make political choices without having a political ideology?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2009 #2
    Re: Ideology

    We could start by counting the number of people that don't have a political ideology. It shouldn't take long. :smile:
  4. Nov 8, 2009 #3
    Re: Ideology

    I think so, :S

    I can use many things to make a choice.

    Logic, belief, etc.

    I don't think I am restricted to an ideology. I think it might be more practical for someone to have their ideology make their choices.

    Especially with moral aspects to politics.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  5. Nov 8, 2009 #4
    Re: Ideology

    I don't even think it's possible for a person to have no political ideologies.


    I think everyone will fit somewhere in one of these categories or a mixture of them...

    Should people be making political choices based solely on the basis that it's what they should choose because they identify themselves with a particular ideology?

    That's a whole new question and I don't think very many people act in this way.
  6. Nov 9, 2009 #5
    Re: Ideology

    I agree with Sorry!, I think that if you were to come up with a set of beliefs that believed that you shouldn't have a political ideology; then that set of beliefs would itself be a political ideology.

    On the other hand, I think that it is possible for some people to compromise and come to a decision despite its conflict with some of his or her personal ideals. Unfortunately their are not many of these people in politics.

    Most claim to be unbiased, but nearly all are as biased as they can be within their party.

    The ones who truly compromise do not get reelected because they upset everyone when a final decision is made.
  7. Nov 9, 2009 #6
    Re: Ideology

    If you are making political choices then you must have a political ideology. The sum of the rationale behind those choices would be your political ideology. I would say that you could only make said choices without ideology if they are made completely on whim with no logic or reasoning in which case you probably oughtn't be making them.
  8. Nov 9, 2009 #7
    Re: Ideology

    Well, the authours of The American Voter Revisited distinguishes political ideologies from attitude structures as:

    "a set of beliefs and evaluations that are crystallized, interlocked, and broad in scope. An ideological attitude structure probably would be grounded in broad assumptions about the nature of society and appropriate social objectives." (Lewis-Beck, Jacobs, Norpoth, and Weisberg 2008:207)

    On the same page (207), they also write that all attitude structures "have the possibility of guiding electoral choices." I don't understand their line of reasoning. How could attitudes guide electoral choices without being politically ideological?
  9. Nov 9, 2009 #8
    Re: Ideology

    It's because it's the American voter... they are a special breed.
  10. Nov 9, 2009 #9
    Re: Ideology

    Come on, we did wise up and elected Barack Obama last year...
  11. Nov 10, 2009 #10
    Re: Ideology

    It would seem that they are simply making a distinction between individual opinions and beliefs and an 'ideology' which they appear to define as something larger than an individual. I would make separate classifications myself though I tend to think of them more as individual and general political ideologies. All individuals seem to tend to have their own individual flavour of political opinions which influences their political choices so it only makes sense to me to consider them to be possessed of an individual/personal political ideology. The authors of your book appear to distinguish these as personal 'attitudes' as opposed to 'ideology'. I would have to read the book to get a better idea of why but I would assume that as political scientists/sociologists there is a matter of useful definitions. If we assume an ideology can be had by only a single person then we assume that all individuals have personal ideologies and the term 'ideology' becomes fairly useless for broad analysis. So we define a personal ideology as an 'attitude structure' and the collective classification is preserved.
  12. Nov 11, 2009 #11
    Re: Ideology

    Attitudes freely shift though observation and circumstance, while ideologies are clung to regardless of either. Avoiding the latter requires immolation of one's ego.
  13. Nov 11, 2009 #12
    Re: Ideology

    While I agree that attitude and ideology are different in that attitude can change as you go, your ideals will help to determine your attitude given the situation. Your ideals will not be changed by your attitude alone, but your attitude in a given situation will be partially determined by your ideals.
  14. Nov 13, 2009 #13


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    Re: Ideology

    Yes, it's possible to make political decisions with no political ideology. An ideology just establishes a long term guiding principle that should outlive any of the short term issues and crises that tend to crop up.

    Letting ideology affect political decisions is simply framing responses to an immediate problem against how the problem and its responses fit into the bigger, long term picture. One could choose to simply find the best solution to the immediate problem at hand under the assumption that a string of good decisions should yield pretty good long term results.

    Many corporations choose the latter method, selecting solutions that yield immediate positive results in the corporation's bottom line. It turns out that that strategy doesn't automatically yield good long term results. Sometimes it leads a company down a blind alley and requires a drastic change in leadership to give the company a new direction. Aside from periodic trips into near disaster, the strategy still gives mostly positive results along as leaders don't actively steal from a company's future to improve the bottom line (give generous retirement benefits for future leaders to deal with in return for increased profits today, for example).

    Having competing ideologies in a democracy means that a lot of results are somewhat similar to having no ideology at all. Neither party is in control long enough to take the country too far down one ideological path before the country changes paths. The country practically bounces along the middle rather than takes a middle path. The only ideologies that do have a truly long term affect are the ideologies shared by both parties.

    Hopefully, the competing ideologies strike some sort of balance between differences and common ideologies. Too much in common and you may as well have a single party leading the country irreversibly down a path that might be right or wrong. Too many differences and the country becomes paralyzed by a government so polarized that it's only capable of reacting to short term emergencies, and only when the emergencies are urgent enough. Hopefully, there's just the right amount of overlap between competing ideologies that you're left with a national ideology chosen by consensus of all the people rather than a temporary majority.
  15. Nov 13, 2009 #14


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    Re: Ideology

    What about the instances (few and far between in todays politics) of the stance of :
    "I disapprove of what you do, but I will defend to the death your right to do it" (a bastardization of something by EB Hall on Voltaire)

    This is how I feel about quite a few political issues concerning peoples rights, but it seems like the majority of both public and politicians take the stance of "I disapprove of what you do, so let me go ahead and make that illegal..."

    Sort of putting personal desire for what you feel is OK for yourself ahead of the fact that this country (USA) was intended to be multi-opinioned, and less restrictive unless said actions infringe upon the rights of others.
  16. Nov 13, 2009 #15


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    Re: Ideology

    Are you still complaining about prohibition?

    Suggested punishment/solution for failing to adhere to the Alcohol Prohibition of 1920-1933:

    - distribute poisoned alcohol beverages through bootleggers
    - hung by the tongue beneath an airplane and flown over the country
    - exiled to concentration camps in the Aleutian Islands
    - forbidden to marry/sterilized
    - tattooed/branded
    - executed, as well as their progeny to the fourth generation (not just you and your kids, but your grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren as well)

    People have never been very protective of habits/activities that they don't happen to share.

    In the 70's and 80's, nearly half of all American households had a gun. By 2004, only about a third had guns in the household. Current attitudes about more restrictive gun control laws: Gun Control/Abortion Opinions. While the last poll was positive for gun owners, the long term trend is pretty much support for gun control in the high 50's and support for gun rights in high 30's.

    In 1955, over half of American males smoked cigarettes with overall rates in the 40's. By 2007, only about a fifth of Americans smoked and anti-smoking laws abound. In fact, many non-smokers would probably look at the proposed prohibition punishments and daydream about imposing the same punishments on smokers.

    By the way, don't rule out the possibility of alcohol prohibition becoming a popular issue again. Only a little over a third of Americans abstain from alcohol, but there's some foreboding trends for drinkers. In 1980, 72% of high school seniors would have consumed alcohol within a month of being surveyed while, by 2006, that number was down to 45%. Similar percentages are reported for college freshman - an incredibly important stat since college graduates have historically been nearly twice as likely to be drinkers than high school dropouts. With DUI being the one realistically likely way that intelligent, white, middle-class young people could destroy their future, look for the college drinking rates to continue to decline.

    DUI laws are the only example I can see where the laws are ahead of popular opinion. Most attempts to ban an activity seem to occur as soon as the activity is no longer very popular. Of course, drunk driving tends to be the only offense where the victim of the crime is very likely to be a random stranger. Smokers primarily threaten themselves (in spite of second hand smoke claims) and gun deaths are usually limited to gun owners and their immediate family. Even in the case of homicide, guns are usually used to shoot someone the shooter knows. You avoid being the victim of a shooting by living in a low crime neighborhood and by not owning a gun.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2009
  17. Nov 13, 2009 #16
    Re: Ideology

    I would say that any short term decision is also based on an overall ideology which dictates what sort of actions and decisions are and are not appropriate.

    If a singular decision does not reflect an individuals overall ideology in and of itself it is likely that they have decided to make some sort of compromise for a particular issue, the willingness to compromise in certain situations being reflective of the persons ideology.

    Even if a person makes several individual decisions based solely on whether or not they receive some short term personal benefit (as in your corporate business analogy) that which they believe benefits them is again reflective of their personal political ideology.

    Of course there are always people that are simply irrational. We could imagine a person who continually votes to support legislation that benefits them personally despite contradictions to their supposed political ideology but I think we could safely say that such a person is not being honest with themselves and perhaps lacks a mature political opinion.
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