How many times have you dismissed an idea for political reasons? When it comes to dealing with problems in government, that adds to the problem.
Partisan politicking and sound bite journalism covering the divisive battles have caused people to stop considering ideas in the ways they once did. Some people blame this on educational institutions – which definitely play a part in this – but the real blame falls on society as a whole. Thanks to technology, we are able to process huge amounts of information in minutes or seconds, but that’s just the machines. People rely on that speed, and stop thinking as critically as they once did.
There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
Mark Twain said that in his autobiography, and it remains true today. New ideas are just bits and pieces of old ideas, reconfigured to seem new. When it comes to politics, the recycling of ideas happens on a very large scale, leading to the creation and management of multiple complex systems that make up our government. Most of the bureaucracy we’ve created is the result of little ideas being cobbled together, with similar concepts existing in multiple departments within our government.
The problem that we’re seeing now is that because of partisanship, many of those old ideas that might actually help solve the problems we’ve created are being tossed aside. “That won’t work!” Perhaps that’s said because the assumption is made that the idea must be bad because of the source. “I’ve been fighting against that forever!” Maybe an idea applied in one way would be disastrous, but if it’s used in a different way, it might help.
It’s unrealistic to think that we can easily make a complex system simple, like the concept of flat tax only and the removal of everything else. One unintended consequence would probably be a radical drop in charitable giving, since the incentive of tax breaks would be removed. Some people who have analyzed the Affordable Care Act have seen parts of ideas that involved creating “group insurance by regions,” for people who didn’t work for companies that offered health insurance.
There are so many ideas floating around to resolve problems we have as a society, but once political motives are added to the mix, the immediate response for many people is to shut down ideas simply because they don’t fit their political beliefs. They came from the wrong source, or someone else already worked through why an idea won’t work. It’s easier to just dismiss concepts, instead of dissecting them, and figuring out if little bits and pieces of them might fix at least a small part of the bigger problems we have.
It’s also easier for people to come up with extremely simplistic solutions to complex problems, which is a huge part of the reason why many ideas get tossed aside. There are no simple solutions to resolving big problems like fraudulent claims for government benefits. But, simplifying the process of applying and removing the complex math we use to determine need might help that problem, since there would be fewer loopholes for people to exploit. While simple solutions might not solve big problems, they can be applied to small parts of those complex issues. It might not be as satisfying as finding the full solution to a problem, but whittling away works, too.
Beyond dismissing ideas purely for political reasons, there is also the habit of assuming that it’s not worth tackling problems we view as impossible to conquer. “It’s just too big!” It became big because we did not prevent it from growing so much. We the people created the big problems, and we the people will have to solve them. If you’re in the camp that sees it all as simply impossible, remember Lewis Carroll had an answer for that: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed six impossible things before breakfast.” Which impossible problems do you believe you can whittle down at least a little by stopping the bad habit of dismissing ideas?