Every time we have a tragedy or catastrophe happen, there are calls to “do something.” Often, the “something” we’re supposed to do isn’t specified. In fact, politicians rarely get specific so we cannot hold them accountable. But, is reactive political action good? Should we continue to react to problems at the surface level or dig into the roots instead? Grayson Quay and I discussed this and much more in this episode.
Here’s what we discuss:
- Problems with the call to “do something” in reaction to a terrible event
- Politicians’ perverse incentive to “do something” rather than nothing, even if the something is counterproductive
- Whether reacting to catastrophes or tragedies makes good policy
- Times that government action exacerbated problems
- Some of our favorite literature, including Notes From Underground and C.S. Lewis
Reactive Political Action
When we take political action after a tragedy, we are normally not thinking straight. If emotions are high, we act irrationally, which makes for policy that feels good in the moment, but doesn't fix the issue. Plus, acting quickly can mean we aren't taking into account all of the factors that lead to a problem. National issues rarely can be solved by policy, and can never be solved with a quick piece of legislation.
Better Political Action
Political action that makes sense is proactive. Instead of waiting for a tragedy to respond to, we ought to look for negative trends in our society and the causes. We know we have issues with mass shootings, drugs, mental illness and more, so why don't we respond? We ought to be able to take political action to prevent these problems from getting worse. Furthermore, each of us can play our part in fixing the issues. Don't wait for politicians in Washington D.C. to fix our issues, but solve your own problems as best you can. Politics should be a last resort.
About Grayson Quay
Grayson Quay is a freelance writer based in Arlington, VA. He earned his MA in English literature from Georgetown University in 2019. Grayson's work has been published in The American Conservative, Reason, The National Interest, and the Spectator US. You can find him on Twitter here. Here's the link to the article we discussed.