Why do individuals, groups, and nations act irrationally, often at the risk of self-destruction? Part of the problem lies in our definition of rationality. Under normal circumstances we think it irrational for a middle-aged man to cash in his insurance policy and spend money as fast as possible. But if the person in question has a terminal illness and no heirs, we think it quite reasonable to spend it all quickly… And if we know that we shall presently die of rabies, what is to prevent us from biting everyone we dislike? Countries sometimes suffer the equivalent of terminal illness. What seems suicidal to Americans may appear rational to an existentially challenged people confronting its imminent mortality.
- two historic midterm election losses;
- a presidential election victory in 2012 that depended heavily on leads in the use of so-called data mining and micro-targeting – leads that Republicans apparently have now erased – and IRS suppression of conservative 501(c) groups;
- President Obama’s underwater approval ratings;
- the public’s increasing, contrary to Democratic expectations, opposition to Obamacare;
- the massive inroads several GOP candidates made into the Latino vote; and
- other indicators of shifting voter sentiment,
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