The Pink Tide and Democracy
Re “The Women’s Vote,” by Katha Pollitt [December 12/19, 2022]: When Democrats held both houses of Congress and the presidency, they did nothing to codify the provisions of Roe into law. Our reproductive choices, our concerns for our families and for others’ families, for child care, for a living wage, for legal protections against those who commit domestic violence or sexual assault—all those issues seem secondary to Democrats. They appear to be spineless about the Republicans, who at least know what they want, even if it’s abhorrent. Democrats may want the women’s vote, but they haven’t demonstrated that they really listen to or care about women.
It’s high time that we consider disregarding polls. They all predicted big Republican gains in the House and even the Senate. It didn’t happen. This election was decided on one overriding issue: the belief in the survival of democracy. But the polls concentrated too much on gas prices and crime, which the Republicans incorrectly clung to as the most important issues affecting the average American. They all miscalculated. The American voter is smarter than they think.
Re “I’m Not Leaving Twitter. Neither Should You,” by Olayemi Olurim [December 12/19, 2022]: Now that Twitter is privately owned, there is no way to know what is happening with the platform or with our data. Elon Musk bought it to destroy it, and that’s what he’s doing. The real solution is to stop relying on capitalists to provide us with the means to communicate and organize. We need people-powered social networks, written with open source software and governed by the people. This is possible to do. Or we can just wait for the next ad platform to be rolled out and billed as a social network, where we are not the users but the product.
The Rules of the Game
How wonderful to see the director of the Institute for Advanced Study, David Nirenberg, attend to the legacy of John von Neumann [“Fortress of Logic,” December 12/19, 2022]. Nirenberg calls for bookshelves to balance blackboards, and one of the books that belongs on those shelves is Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. In its pages, von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern lay out their limitations with the kind of intellectual integrity one finds so richly in original thinkers. They tell us clearly that they cannot cover absolute values; they explicitly exclude valuation of intangibles. They concede that there is no way to demonstrate a link between subjective and objective rationality. These stipulated lacunae are a map for intellectuals to address all the damage done by the misuse of the otherwise valuable contributions of Western rationalists. For decades, the rationalists insisted that altruism did not exist, completely missing that von Neumann and Morgenstern never denied the existence of absolute values. People do endow intangible principles with absolute value.