I was attending a fundraiser for a certain House committee Ranking Member this evening, and as he spoke, I was struck by the utter reductionism of his claims.
He was talking about how the free market does wonders to the economy, and he used China as a example. He claimed that under Communism, China experienced very little economic growth, but under a capitalistic free market system, China has experienced a dynamic period of growth.
This talk offended the academic side of me, the side of me that is extremely sensitive to claims of causation, the side of me that knows that the world is much, much more complicated than what a certain member of Congress would like to believe.
And then it dawned upon me: one of the unifying, common features that runs through my work experience thus far is this tendency, excessive I would say, to over-simply and reduce complex phenomenon in DC. Everyone seems to talk in this dualistic, either/or manner, without acknowledging that for the most part, things are not as simple as a binary divide. The discourse around this town is abymal when it comes to subtlety–everything is set up as an opposing duality.
But the ironic thing is that politics, as far as human phenomenon go, is one of, if not the most complicated thing there is. Politics is totally beyond simply dualities in its content, and yet in a city that is all about politics, the complexities and subtleties of politics are almost completely ignored.
And every time I hear this kind of rhetoric, I am disturbed. And this is why I can never fully embrace politics as a career: I love the ambiguities and complextities too much. And that’s something only academia can afford.