True believers

The Karl Rove “meltdown” on Fox is becoming a Democrat fanboy icecream today.

It’s hardly a meltdown, but what Rove exhibits when he refuses to accept the Fox early call on the Ohio vote is a problem typical of true believers of any credo; a willful denial of reality.

His approach looks ridiculous because his fate was in the hands of voters. It was a done deal. Wanting it to be different is ridiculous. This is the risk of true believers:  their belief (and self-investment) in the cause affects their judgement of reality.

True believers are essential to any cause. They power it. Their passion is infectious. But they should not hold the reins, because their judgement is impaired.

The positive aspect of true believing is that you hang in loyally with your side when the odds are against you. It’s important in love, friendship, war, and even sport. These things can triumph with true belief – because belief generates energy and effort, and it holds on for that remotest chance that something will happen.

The negative aspect of true belief is that it is essentially all about you. The belief and yourself become entwined. Their destinies are locked.

Democratic politics cannot triumph with only true belief. Because it is about persuasion. And persuasion needs a hell of a lot more than conviction: it needs to understand the motives, beliefs, hopes and fears of those still to be persuaded. That requires a combination of empathy and reason – which is achieved through a measure of distance. 

Politics and politicians regularly suffer from being guided by true believers who are blind to the needs of others.

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