January 27, 2022

The Political Lawyer

From David French, an analogy for partisanship in this country. He came to this after leaving the Republican party in 2016:

Since my political divorce, however, I’ve been able to see more clearly the nature of partisanship itself, including the way in which it distorts our view of the world. To use a legal analogy, at a fundamental level, partisanship converts a person from a judge (one who decides among competing arguments, hopefully without bias) to a lawyer (one who steadfastly and relentlessly defends their client, almost regardless of the facts).

The partisan is prone to act like a lawyer, and the party is their client. He or she picks a side, and then—convinced that the common good or social justice is ultimately served by their triumph—behaves exactly how lawyers behave. Are there facts that make your client” (Democrats or Republicans) look good? Emphasize those facts. Do negative developments harm your case? Find a way to change the focus.

I love this so much. I’ve never thought about the subject using this framework, but it has long bothered me that people pick a side and then defend that side, no matter what. The paradigm that French, a former attorney, lays out is so appropriate, and so spot on. When you think about political issues, are you being a judge or a lawyer?


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