Rational or Emotional Thinking In Politics and Other Life Endeavors

Many people who are rational in most areas of life often abandon rational thinking and operate on their emotional feelings when it comes to making political choices. I found this recent comment on the economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) in the Journal of Evolutionary Economics:

Schumpeter’s analysis presupposes limits on the rationality and knowledge of individuals both in economics and politics. These limits are clarified and explored under the label of “conscious rationality”: in his view individuals may have different degrees of conscious rationality, and so, to practice rationality in a given domain, it is necessary to hold specific competence and knowledge. When competence is very high, as is the case of entrepreneurial activity, rationality can be described as a process of creative response, i.e., of discovery under uncertain conditions, analogous to Simon’s procedural rationality. When competence is missing or is very modest, the emotional and routine elements of reasoning supplant logical thought and individuals are exposed to irrational external messages, forms of persuasion and advertising, both in the economic and political arena.

Compare that to this from Glenn Reynolds in his recent USA Today column:

 At the invitation of a local African-American politico, [Tim Alberta] spent an afternoon with a bunch of middle-class Black voters outside Detroit. He found they were disappointed in the Democrats, thought nothing much had changed for them during the Obama presidency, and expected Trump to win even though they planned to vote for Biden themselves.

Until China sicked the Peking Pox on America, Blacks in the U.S. were experiencing a growing economy and plentiful employment opportunities. The Black unemployment rate was lower that it had ever been.

Though they seem to recognize that Obama and the Democrats did little that benefited them, and they expect Trump to win and don’t seem too upset about that, they nevertheless will continue to vote Democrat. They will vote for the feckless and corrupt Joe Biden nonetheless. Clearly, they are operating on the rational side of their brain in most areas of endeavor, but immediately switch to the emotional part of their brain in deciding their political stance.

I suppose they give trump no credit for the economic gains they’ve experienced, even though they admit that the Democrats have done little for them. In love and politics emotions can get in the way of rational thought. The outcome is likely to be negatively affected. Of course, in politics people may be saved from a bad result by other voters who make political choices with the rational side of their brain.


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