Reflections on the blogosphere and the Swedish election
Today, the Swedish parliamentary election takes place. Unsurprisingly, this has affected the contents of the local blogosphere.
Looking back over what I have read today, the last week, and the last month, there is a clear tendency for individual bloggers to have very partial and biased views of events, persons, and parties. At the same time, various party supporters use more-or-less the same arguments against each other.
A few examples:
Whenever there was a television debate, the proponents of both parties talked about how their hero had torn his opponent to pieces.
The argument has been raised both that a vote on the incumbent centre-right alliance and a vote on the historically dominating left would also be a vote for the much hated Sverigedemokraterna.
The pro-incumbent argued that a vote on the left diminishes the chance for a majority victory for the poll-leading centre-right, which would allow Sverigedemokraterna to act as “vågmästare” (lit. “scale master”, a minor, unpledged party that can manipulate the political balance for its own gain by making its support a matter of tit-for-tat). Unfortunately, in Sweden’s multi-party system and its obsession with coalitions (as opposed to issues), this is a recurring, actual problem—but one that would be easy to avoid with more sensible politicians. Effectively, he reasoned that voters should vote against their own convictions to prevent this minor party from gaining influence…
The pro-left argued with even less reason, claiming that because the left had unequivocally ruled out a cooperation with Sverigedemokraterna, while the centre-right had not, it would be safer to vote left. In my impression, this was just a second-rate excuse for not having to apply the same reasoning to the left (resp. avoiding the conclusion that a centre-right vote was called for, following the pro-incumbent’s reasoning).
In addition, one supporter of the even smaller Piratpartiet argued (jokingly?) that it was safest to vote for Piratpartiet, so that it could become the vågmästare—relieving the main competitors from reliance on Sverigedemokraterna.
The opposing parties are regularly accused of the same things or ascribed the same motives or feelings, including being opportunistic, lying, getting desperate (when trailing in the polls), and using unfair methods.
Silly, narrow-minded, and self-righteous people? Probably. However, also quite ordinary and normal people who often genuinely believe that it is the rest of the world which consists of silly, narrow-minded, and self-righteous people—which raises the question how many of us, without realizing it, are also one them… (Be it in general or with regard to specific pet issues.)
My recommendation (and what I, myself, do) is to regularly put ones own opinions and behaviours under scrutiny. In particular, when seeing something that appears really silly, it pays to stop and ask questions like “Is this something that I, myself, have done on other occasions?”, “Is this a behaviour that I would be less hostile too, if it came from the party/ideology/religion that I support?”, and similar. Among the benefits is a better self-knowledge and a more nuanced view of right and wrong, who does what, and so on.