Michael Huemer, writes a nice piece covering Why People Are Irrational about Politics. He knocks down several hypotheses such as miscalculation, ignorance, and divergent values using specific counter examples, observations of party platforms, and thoughtfully considered analysis.
In the summary, a rather bleak view of the political animal emerges:
The best explanation lies in the theory of Rational Irrationality: individuals derive psychological rewards from holding certain political beliefs, and since each individual suffers almost none of the harm caused by his own false political beliefs, it often makes sense (it gives him what he wants) to adopt those beliefs regardless of whether they are true or well-supported.
Of course, Huemer isn’t the only one to observe the poor results of political decision making process. Eliezer Yudkowsky argues, vehemently, that Politics is the Mindkiller using a different tactic. He points out that we engage in this behavior because, in small tribal circumstances, “being on the [losing] side of the argument could get you killed. Being on the [winning] side of the argument could let you kill your hated rival.”
The US currently faces presidential elections only a few weeks away, and none of my philosophical team, despite a growing and more vocal presence this year, has any hope of securing a win. I’m considering not voting, because of agreement with Doug Casey’s Top Five Reasons Not to Vote, especially the observation that voting just encourages the morally bankrupt politicians: “the more votes he gets, the more he thinks he’s got a mandate to rule.”