This column is perhaps more of a confession than an endorsement.
I’m going to vote for Rory Hoskins next Tuesday, because I resonate with him. It’s an intuitive thing.
Candidates often try to get votes by rationally laying out what they will do if elected. That’s what this newspaper tends to focus on. What do Chris and Rory say they will do about the Altenheim property or to get the village out of its fiscal hole or to prevent flooding or to promote Forest Park’s economy.
Both Chris and Rory have well thought out proposals which on the whole I agree with. No, why I’m going to vote for Rory has less to do with reason than my intuition.
Do you remember Barack Obama’s keynote speech to the Democratic Convention in 2004? I don’t remember a word he said, but I remember vividly how that speech moved me. It wasn’t mainly my head that was responding to him, but neither was it primarily my heart. The effect was not mainly rational nor emotional.
It was intuitive. The online Free Dictionary defines intuition as “the faculty of knowing or understanding something without reasoning or proof” or “an impression or insight gained by the use of this faculty.”
Now, Rory has a long way to go to approach Obama’s magic as a speaker. In fact, I thought Chris performed much better than Rory at the forum held at the Middle School last Thursday. I understood every word Chris said both in terms of diction and conceptual clarity. Rory at times kind of mumbled and sometimes turned away from the mic in the direction of the moderator which made it impossible to hear what he was saying.
When Chris threw a negative, ad hominem barb it stung, because he is good with words, but when Rory tried to respond in kind, he just couldn’t pull it off.
So, I’m not going to vote for Rory, because his platform is so much more compelling than the one Chris is presenting and certainly not because of his skill at public speaking.
It’s, rather, an intuitive thing. It’s why I become close friends with some people and not with others. It’s an intuitive thing. It’s why I join one political party and not another. It’s an intuitive thing. It’s why I’m a Christian and not a Buddhist.
Jonathan Haidt is a moral psychologist who, in his book The Righteous Mind, argues that when we humans make moral decisions, intuition comes first and reasoning comes second. In fact he contends that reason functions like a press secretary whose job is to make sense out of what is basically non-rational. Picture Sarah Huckaby Sanders trying to defend her boss in front of TV cameras.
“Keep your eye on intuitions,” Haidt urges, “and don’t take people’s moral arguments at face value. They’re mostly post hoc constructions. . .crafted to advance one or more strategic objectives.”
That’s why I probably won’t convince any Chris Harris supporters to vote for Rory Hoskins by any rational arguments I could make—because it’s an intuitive thing.
Although intuition is not rational, I want to be clear that neither is it irrational. Saying that the sun travels around the earth is irrational. Saying that life begins at conception is not. That view is neither rational nor irrational. It’s intuitive. Look at the definition. Intuition is “the faculty of knowing or understanding something without reasoning or proof.”
Maybe I’m using myself as a case study here. Does my claim that my reasons for voting for Rory are more intuitive than rational resonate intuitively with you? You see the humorous irony, right? If you don’t buy what I’m saying, there’s no way I can convince you by a rational argument. Because it’s an intuitive thing. You either intuitively accept that what I’m saying about intuition or you don’t.
The problem, if it’s true that that intuition precedes reason in our decision making, is that intuition can be wrong. We all intuitively agreed that Donald Trump would lose in 2016, right? Turning from politics to religions, Jesus’ disciples constantly misunderstood what he was telling them about the Kingdom of God, because his teaching was to them counter-intuitive. What? You want us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!
One of my cousins said, “When I want to find out what is really true, I watch Fox news.”
One of my friends said, “When I want to find out what is really true, I watch MSNBC.”
All of this, of course, begs the question, “Where does intuition come from?”
I don’t know the answer. We all have heard stories like one of the children of a pastor becomes an atheist and the other goes to seminary. Is it nature or nurture or just random? I don’t know.
What I think I know—err what I intuitively know is that reason should have an honored role in our decision regarding whom to vote for next Tuesday, but reason also has its limitations.
I’m going vote for Rory partly because I agree with most of his positions but also because I intuitively resonate with things like his demeanor, character, temperament and sense of how the world works.