Has Trump changed your life?
John O’Leary asks Peter Montoya about his new book and how our ancestral past influences the way we consume news. How we tend to overestimate the influence of the news on our lives and how little presidents affect us individually and as a nation.
I’m going to to share another quote I wrote down, This one’s not in front of me, so it’s going to be a little bit off kilter. But you’ll remember it if you’ve ever read history and wondered why so many people were willing to do evil things fear was probably the cause of it.
Yeah, it certainly was. We are we as human beings have got our primary directive and our primary directive is to survive. And so how we survive is by making sure we keep ourselves abreast of anything that might harm us or hurt the people in our tribe.
So news is basically gossip, but gossip now on steroids through the Internet or the airwaves. And so we’re constantly on guard to listen for more news that actually might fill our need to keep ourselves safe. However, when you start dissecting most news and going, OK, is this news really essential to my survival?
No, probably not. Is it going to change how I live my day? Well, maybe the traffic and the weather do. But otherwise, most of the stuff that we see and think is newsworthy really isn’t, because it doesn’t actually change the decisions you make on a day to day basis.
It isn’t really keeping you safer, is actually making you more afraid, more anxious and more likely to respond or fall victim to some really bad propaganda leader.
You went through this in one of the earlier chapters, and we’re already past that in the interview. But you went through and you described our belief that the ultimate leader, the president, that he or she will have a dramatic influence over every single aspect of our lives,
and then you took it all the way back to Eisenhower and you went through the Republicans, the Democrats, and shockingly showed, at least economically, how little impact they had in our lives. Could you just share a few of those stats or the overall context of that conversation?
I will. So, yes, so we kind of have this feeling that when we’re voting for a president, that the future of the nation is at stake. And we believe that the wrong president gets into office, the whole country is going to go to hell in a handbasket on a very, very quick basis.
However, when you look through the prism of time, time in history, you realize that presidents actually have very, very little effect. So we look at the average annual GDP growth by president, and most presidents range between one and four percent.
And you look at the presidents and you go, there really is no rhyme or reasons. And oftentimes you see these long slopes over the course of decades that really don’t have any attachment to presidents. Then you look at the average freedom score, you know, we think our freedoms are going to be taken away.
Once again, it doesn’t change much between six and seven points on average on their scale is what it is. They look at the average unemployment rate and it ranges on average between two and five percent from 1945 to 2017.
Then you look at economic growth and economic growth is about the same. So we look at these things and go, oh, my gosh, this president is going to be awful, absolute terrible. We realize it just isn’t so. So why do we care so much?
You know, why do we start… I’m already dreading it. And just starting probably next year, we’re going to start the next presidential cycle. And I’m already dreading it. Why do we pour billions of dollars and hundreds of hours in two presidents. And the truth is, because our president has become an avatar for our status. So when our president, our side, is in office, well, then we have higher status and we are the good team. We are winning the power war.
And symbolically and psychologically, we think we’re winning. So the president is really not about policy. It really isn’t about even ideals. What it really is, is… do you get psychological benefit by knowing that your tribe is winning?
If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. My book will challenge you to improve your relationships with friends and family.
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