Being an Aspie in Politics

Infrastructure is an unsexy issue and therefore neurotypicals will never address it

So, how does the spectrum affect my involvement in politics? I try to avoid the sentiments of chauvinism in writing about the spectrum but this is going to convey some because this has to do with how neurotypicals do politics and how they’re worse. The first thing is that since neurotypicals live in a world of social queues, they move like a herd, and live with the news cycle. A cycle from which they get many of the queues. So, in my experience, neurotypicals do politics in zeitgeists and I don’t. Some tragedy will appear in the media and for three weeks there will be much ado about policy proposals and strategies to address the issue until the news cycles fade and the neurotypicals, with their slavish adherence to social queues, abandon the cause and move on having made the tiny, if any, progress that is possible in the time their attention was focused on it. After that I think “Wait, this is still a thing and it’s still killing people. Why has it become uncool suddenly?” The neurotypicals will reply with a cliched excuse and if I disprove that excuse and show frustration, they’ll act like I insulted their mother and accuse me of being extremely harsh and mean. I’m not but okay.

                The next thing I notice is that the neurotypical approach to politics is much more pathos than logos and they don’t measure their success in quantitative achievements nearly as much as smelling the amount of interest and participation in and about an issue. So, a neurotypical is much more satisfied with raising awareness than material victories. That’s how they subconsciously measure success in society. Statistics and social infrastructure are even less tangible to them and less able to be appreciated for its importance by their brains. They give overly undue importance to awareness raising and participation and, worse, they are easily fooled by the selection bias of their groups. If a large portion of people they perceive are aware and talking about an issue, their brains will interpret that as being an accurate representation of society, more broadly, than just the people they are connected to. This connects to the former paragraph since if neurotypicals only pay attention to wider issues briefly then it requires that interest groups be better at what they do to maintain pressure but they, largely, fail because they, for neurological reasons, misunderstand how to gage success.

                The third issue is also related to the zeitgeists. If you say something that isn’t within the context of a zeitgeist then it gets pushed aside and forgotten. The huge problem with that is, partly, that all of these issues are interrelated. It also means that more arcane and obscure issues are often completely missed or given very little time. For example, homelessness is a sexy issue but zoning is not. So, people will debate homelessness and only brainstorm the most obvious solutions and those are the ones that have made headlines. It relates to System One and System Two in cognitive biases. When people think quickly, they come up with the dumbest and least sophisticated solutions. For example, they’ll try to solve homelessness through building code-level buildings and buy the land and materials at market value and then run out of money, table the program, and never even start it. A smart thing to do would be to pass a few zoning ordinances, lower the property values, and then use imminent domain and to pass a temporary tax incentive for contractors who lower building costs. For people who think primarily in headlines and zeitgeists, that level of complexity is beyond them.

                Obviously, I come from the hard left and the left cannot sustain pressure on a large scale on multiple issues for a long time and they can’t think of novel or sophisticated solutions to problems. That’s why even when they win, they never make anything of it. Even when they hold office and possess power, they lack the attention and organization to exploit it. That’s the problem with California, right now. They have the taxes of Denmark and the economic hardships of Greece. How can taxes be that high but homelessness be that widespread? They have a democratic supermajority and high taxes so they don’t have the excuse of obstructionists or a tight budget. The only people they have to blame are themselves. A lot of people on the right claim that California’s problems are the result of high taxes and businesses leaving. No, California’s problems betray that the liberals running the state have short and myopic attention spans and are incapable of nuanced solutions to social issues because their brains never leave System One. They could overtake an old ghost town abandoned in the twentieth century, build shacks like you find in hardware stores, and cheaply house the homeless and what stops them is not red tape, it’s not bureaucracy. It is the inability of metaphorically ADHD people to do more than a single committee hearing about issues as boring as construction regulations. Society doesn’t care about construction regulations and social queues drag the politicians back to sexy issues.

                As an Aspie, I spend much of my time focused on unsexy issues and creating intricate and innovative ways to address them and when I present them, I get nowhere. Their brains desire social acceptance and so any issue that doesn’t fit with that goal is shrugged off. Not deliberately but subconsciously in that they’ll forget to do anything that isn’t in the zeitgeist. If liberal democracy collapses it will die on the altar of social psychology. It will die because the solutions that would have averted its death will be forgone for sexier and juicer issues. A little finesse and self-discipline would get them far but they are not going to have that. Ideas don’t get anywhere even if people agree with the idea. It feels like gridlock but it’s actually not. It’s not people being unable to compromise or work together, it is people being unable to avert their eyes from the metaphorical strippers and focus their eyes on the literal issues. They’ll keep holding vigils over murdered posterchildren and raising awareness of their specific demographic’s banes by preaching to the choir. It’s not going to do anything.

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