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Two Sides Problem: Erosion of Norms

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Image Credit Humans have a natural tendency to divide each other into “us” and “them”, which provides the foundation for the two sides problems. If one side has a power advantage over the other and elects not to be overly constrained by law or morality, this can be very bad for the weaker side. Paradigm examples include American slave owners and their slaves, Nazis and their victims, and Stalinists and their victims.  If the two sides are roughly equal in power and are willing to abide by certain limits, this division can provide benefits to both—or at least to the elites of each group. When people are divided into us and them, the usual course is for the us group to see itself as good and superior to the them group. This helps cement group identity and serves various psychological needs. In times of identity stress or fear, people in the us group quickly accept the demonization of the them group. The American political system is a Two Sides system of the more equal sort and one of increasing demonization. While the Republicans have gained the upper hand in many states through being better at gerrymandering and voter suppression than the Democrats, the two parties are still roughly on par. While this does have some negative consequences for the party elites, it also confers many important advantages. On the minus side, a politician from one party is unlikely to win over voters from the other party, unless they can create another us-them paradigm. This is something Trump managed to do. While doing this initially caused some splits in the Republican party, most Republicans quickly accepted the situation and Trump’s embrace. As such, almost all Republicans are on Trump’s side. On the positive side, the us-them situation means that the party elite can use the various cognitive biases, rhetorical devices and fallacies that are fueled by the Two Sides Problems. Another advantage is that the party elite can expect that their misdeeds will often be defended. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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