|Jamesian Politics: How it would change, and how it is reinforced
If we where to have the political system and type of thought that James advocated we would have a very different country. Not only would it change the way we talk about issues, but also what issues would be talked about. All of the things that are a basis for politics and life in the US could be affected from voting to religion.
Before looking at how issues would change and how we may view them under James ideals, there are some that may not be an issue at all anymore. James talks about live and dead issues in “The Will to Believe” and this would make look to find out if some issues are even live issues for most people to debate. One Issue that may be lost is abortion, or at least greatly changed is school prayer. For those who believe that organized school prayer should not be in our public schools, the idea that we should let it be is in fact a dead issue. It is not common to find people that will really try to look at the issue as a live issue. Regardless of what those who want school prayer may do or say, for most who oppose it, there is no argument that can open them up to the idea. This case is even truer if they do not believe in the religion that people wish to have in schools. The I believe would be true to the same who take action today to have organized school prayer, if the school was talking about Buddhism and not Christian. This becomes as much of a dead issue as it is for those who are not Christian in today’s debate. To this day many people try to come up with many reasons that we need to change our policy on organized prayer in schools, but the fact is that they are talking to a group that in large find it a dead issue. This would mean that in place of trying to tell people why we need this type of prayer is school, those who wish to make a change would realize that they need to make it no longer a dead issue before they can try to get people to join their side, something I think few try today. While this would of course not make the issue go away, it would make the issue change to a point that it may not have the charged us against them mentality that is in place today. Both sides would understand that the issue may be a dead one, and that no amount of protesting will make them change this view. Today I think this is an issue that hits two main groups of people, and both hold the others view as a dead idea, leaving out those who may hold both sides as a live idea.
One idea of James that is very important to how politics works today was that we do not always need evidence for out beliefs as stated by Clifford. Clifford’s idea was that Christians are sinful for believing in Christianity on so little evidence, James responded “. When the Clifford’s tell us how sinful it is to be Christians on such 'insufficient evidence,' insufficiency is really the last thing they have in mind. For them the evidence is absolutely sufficient, only it makes the other way. They believe so completely in an anti-Christian order of the universe that there is no living option: Christianity is a dead hypothesis from the start.”(Will to Believe) In effect, it is true for them because they believe it to be, and a dead issue to those who are anti-Christian. If we had to hold this idea of proof to politics, our economics would fall to chaos. Tax breaks for example would require one to go out and put scientific proof on why we need to raise or lower taxes. Well as we all know there has yet to proof on what a tax change will do, and to even attempt to do some kind of test would require massive amounts of time spending, and even this would not meet standards we would use for science. All we can do is look at history, our own values, and make a guess at the outcome, we can expect proof of all things we believe in. The fact is that you can have someone who believes fully in the free market system and a Marxist try as hard as they want to come up with a way to prove themselves correct, but regardless of what evidence they will be able to come up with it would not be able to meet the standard of scientific proof, nor will it likely effect the others idea of truth. The only way we are able to move on is to follow the ideas of James, and except that sometimes science cannot give us proof, and an absolute truth.
A pragmatist turns his back resolutely and once for all upon a lot of inveterate habits dear to professional philosophers. He turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad a priori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and origins. He turns towards concreteness and adequacy, towards facts, towards action and towards power. That means the empiricist temper regnant and the rationalist temper sincerely given up. It means the open air and possibilities of nature, as against dogma, artificiality, and the pretence of finality in truth”(what Pragmatism means”
If this idea from pragmatism was accepted into politics more, we would have a vary different type of politician then that of today. Today we seem drawn to charisma, style, and other traits that would carry little wait under this theory. We would not care about the slick politician tells us many things; while in reality they tell us little. We would look to those who can bring us the facts, not the spin. Those who go out and make change, and work for what they believe, and not those who just tell us they want to change something, and 4 years down the road we find that we have had nothing change. Those who disagreed would be able to talk rationally about the issues without getting caught up with attacking the other side to justify their own ideas, when we all benefit when we have them stick to the facts, and leave the temper alone. If we had this I would think we would find a much greater respect for those we put in power, and hopefully quicker action on those issues that so often are debated for years, with out any real gains on the problem.
James’s ideals could help our political system greatly, and in some cases already have. The problem is that if we agree on this, what changes would need to be made to help bring this about.