19.8.05

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP? Two illustrations of discredit-by-association for your consideration today. At Marquette Warrior, Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan's history of working with the more extreme elements of the Angry Left receives some documentation. At Pandagon, the citizen's organization calling itself "Minutemen" that operates a form of Neighborhood Watch on the southern borders is called out for receiving support from the more extreme elements of the white supremacist Right. Exiled Kleagle David Duke endorses both causes.

With the new semester starting, it is time to review some fundamentals of policy making and argumentation. The extremists of any stripe (and I apologize for the excessive abstraction of "Left" and "Right;" nativists are not necessarily royalists or capitalists, and pacifists and war resisters not necessarily republicans or socialists) do not affect public policy unless they are able to move the marginal decision maker. And that marginal decision maker is somewhere in the middle. Why? Review the median voter theorem and the principle of minimum differentiation. (The closing paragraph of Harold Hotelling's "Stability in Competition" notes that Democrats and Republicans, or Methodists and Episcopalians, are quite similar.)

So, should prospective students be reading these pages, kindly be advised that discredit-by-appeal-to- argmin[Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh] will not fly. Evaluate immigration policy, or war, or gasoline prices on the merits, and be particularly sensitive to those arguments attempted to move the median rather than to shore up the base.

No comments: