My opposition to Mr. Sanders grows by the day. His speeches make it clear that he is not a problem-solver; he is a bomb-thrower. Mr.Sanders is the mirror image of Mr. Trump, with the huge exception that he’s a lot smarter. But his popularity is driven by the same forces that empower Mr. Trump.
Our civilization grows ever more complex by the day, and change is accelerating. In times past, change came slowly enough that people could absorb it and adjust to it. Our civilization is like a movie whose frame rate increases every second, with images coming faster and faster, and has now reached the point that the images are coming so fast that people can’t make sense of them. It’s still possible, if you devote lots of time to studying them, to comprehend the general flow of change, but few people have the time to understand what’s happening.
Previously, we relied on experts to study and understand small pieces of the changing puzzle, but nowadays the recommendations of the experts have gone so far beyond the ken of the common man that most people now reject the advice of experts. Climate change provides us with a good example. For nearly 30 years now, scientists have been warning us that we must throttle back emissions of carbon, lest the climate change dangerously. The citizens looked around and saw no climate change, so they dismissed the scientists’s advice.
People have always struggled to understand the complexities of the world. Their logical reasoning powers are insufficient to explain their experiences, so they instead fall back on a mental module that is highly developed in the human brain: social reasoning. When confused by complexity, people resort to an explanation based on what they can comprehend: social interaction. They attribute events to powerful persons pulling the strings of reality. Thousands of years ago, they called these people “gods”; nowadays they call them “the elite”. It’s the same thinking; what was once religion is now conspiracy theory. The big difference is that, while religions urged people to propitiate the gods, politicians like Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders urge people to destroy the elite. Where religions promised heaven to those who please the gods, conspiracy theories threaten hell to those who fail to destroy the elite.
And before you dismiss me as some old boomer who supports Mr. Biden, know this: I support Ms. Warren and donate to her campaign.