Ideological Thinking in Politics
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
remember, from my boyhood years, my mother arguing
politics with my grandfather. She was a republican. He was a
democrat. They just seemed
to go round and round in circles. It
was an ongoing debate in which nothing got solved.
Simply put, an ideology is a belief. A
person can argue all he wants, but it is still just a
belief. It is not an empirical truth. And there will always
be disputes over beliefs. If, however, an idea is of a scientific
nature, than it is testable. And once tested, and proven, almost
everyone will come to agree with it. Galileo concluded that the
earth revolved around the sun, and during his time, a lot of people
were not too thrilled with this idea. But over many years, as
more and more evidence arose to support his initial conclusion, people
began to accept his beliefs as truth. Today, no reasonable person
will disagree with the notion that the earth revolves around the sun.
It has been scientifically proven.
Communism. Socialism. Capitalism.
These are all words that describe ideologies. In the
world today, there are a great many people who are very attached to
their personal ideologies. They have accepted them as gospel, to
the point where they believe that all of the world's problems could be
solved, if everyone else just accepted them as well. This kind of
thinking is flawed, and has no grounding in objectivity or truth.
Regardless, ideologies are extremely powerful.
I know an American who was in the Viet Nam
war. He murdered people, and was involved in
unspeakable atrocities, by his own admission. Today, he still
believes that his actions were justified because: "We had to stop
communism at all costs." His destructive behavior was based on
this terribly erroneous assumption. His actions were the product
of his belief in an ideology that was false.
attempting to solve social problems with ideologies.
This is not only ineffective, but also damaging. Granted, we are
all entitled to have our own beliefs. But we need to recognize
them as simply that: beliefs. Not truths.
Today, the people in political parties
who select their candidates are usually ideological thinkers.
They select candidates who think like they do. The general public
can recognize this. With proper electoral reform, I believe that
people will be able to see a clear difference between the problem
solving personality and the ideological personality.
Ideological thinkers can be extremely
deceptive. They may be wonderful orators. They may
articulate their noble ideals
using beautiful words. When I hear
such rhetoric, it often makes me feel very uncomfortable, because I
sense that it is merely an illusion, which conceals a faulty
understanding of the system, its mechanics, its flaws, and possible
When an ideological thinker is asked how he
will solve a problem, he usually is evasive, responding with
an answer that is overly general and superficial. Perhaps he
should work in sales, but not in a position of executive responsibility.
But sadly, he can often hypnotize a crowd with his oratorical ability.
Fortunately, however, he can be exposed by using the proper strategy.
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