What’s “fair” in politics? Is is necessary to do everything you’ll say you do, and nothing of what you say you won’t and don’t like? A clear cut answer would be, “Yes.” Politics is not clear cut, unfortunately, because it is the process of determining power, and who holds it legitimately. Along anyone’s life, there will be shades of hypocrisy, and politicians are still all people (no robots), so hypocrisy will be in politics one way or another.
Why am I standing up for politicians who may behave hypocritically suddenly? Well, I’m considering becoming a politician, so that might have something to do with it. Also, I’m just musing to myself about what people will say if I were ever to use technology like a robodialer to reach potential voters. Do I think a ban on political robodialing would be okay, as Coyne suggests? SURE! Would I use robodialing until a time it becomes illegal? Sadly, yes.
There are a great many people who come by my blog, some with opinions I do not respect at all, who tell me things they’ve heard smear-campaigns and oil-money say about people like Al Gore, and David Suzuki. They criticize these good people like Suzuki who argue that we should all burn less carbon in our daily life, for using planes and for Gore having an elaborate energy hogging-mansion. Are those examples of hypocrisy? Yes. How can I defend it though? Easily.
The obvious argument from my, and Gore’s, political opponents, is that they want environmentalists to shut up about problems in our society and our economy. They use obvious hypocrisy as their weapon to try and silence environmentalists. Why should it be alright for their champions like Mr. Moncton and Senator Inhofe who carry messages of over-consumption and trickery, but forbidden for those with the opposing message based on scientific reality, and Full Cost Accounting? Remember, Gore is not saying it should be illegal for people to use planes, or have large homes, he’s saying they should be prepared to accept the Full Cost for having both, because right now they are subsidized by government, and at the cost of future habitability on Earth for humans.
For demon-dialing, I’d be fine with seeing it leave the political (and legitimate marketing sphere), but I could not be expected to abandon technology that political opponents have access to in order to spread their message. How would it make sense to launch a serious campaign, where votes and money matter, if my opponents could reach 1000 people in the time it takes me to reach 1? Microtargeting only works if you’ve previously identified a large group of people through mass polling… by robodialing.
Information is power, and technology is too. You can’t give up on using information or technology, if your opponents have it, even if you’d like to see energy used differently.