Thought Experiment and the Future of Politics

Illustration by Scotto Mycklebust

Thought Experiment is a very noble method used since the beginning of civilization to explore new situations without necessarily endangering one’s life and with the purpose of realizing some form of progress. It has been applied mostly to scientific and to philosophical investigations.

The main characteristic of the method is the “what if,” what would be the case if a determined situation were the case. It is based on a (set of) hypothesis without pre-judgment even though denoted by skepsis.

Let’s experiment and apply this method to the political landscape in America today.

Question: For which of the two democratic candidates (Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders) would people vote once they were confronted with the content of their programs, without having ever been influenced by other people’s opinions?

Imagine we could invite individual “investigators” of any age, gender, sexual orientation, racial, cultural or social background to participate in our investigation based on the following qualifiers: the individual has lived in America for the past 40 years and has a current individual yearly income ranging from $30,000 and $100,000.

Imagine this group would listen (not watch, just listen) to the best and worst of the spoken words amongst the whole range of the two candidates’ speeches and interviews.

Imagine the topics were defined as follows: the constitutional right of every American to equally and fairly pursue happiness; the still lingering discrimination based on gender, racial or religious background; workers’ rights and conditions, specifically wages and benefits; the educational system and the penalty system; the broad range of current environmental issues; the role of America in the world and this in relationship to national security and the threat of terrorist attacks.

Imagine that, in line with the methods of this experiment all investigators agree that every action enchains a reaction. Poetically speaking, the shaking of the wings of the butterfly in one part of the earth can create a wave in another part.

Imagine that this large group of investigators would decide for which candidate they would vote based only on the candidate’s political words during the last 40 years.

Imagine now a twist. The experiment would unfold in two phases. Initially, the investigators would analyze the political program without considering the more or less realistic outcome. Then, they would be solicited to make an analysis considering the current political landscape (especially the formation of congress today and what it could be “if” tomorrow).

Imagine we would select among the investigators a proportional number of people, again, of all ages, genders and sexual orientation, of all racial, cultural and social backgrounds, with a diverse range of individual income, and split this group into pro-Hilary and pro-Sanders, and imagine this group would then be granted the opportunity to discuss their different points of view.

Imagine they were given the very objective criteria to evaluate their candidate’s words in terms of consistency and alliances.

Do not forget that the investigators were given the chance to listen to the best and the worse of the candidates.

Now again we would introduce a twist. Imagine that at a certain moment of the discussion the investigators would have the opportunity to watch images of the candidates, again, both at their best and their worst, during the past 40 years of our contemplation.

Imagine the investigators would briefly change sexual orientation, religious beliefs, occupation and living conditions within the range of possibility given as a premise of our thought experiment for the purpose of being granted the opportunity to experience the beauty and the hassle of being someone else including the advantages and burdens of that new self. (Certainly this is the extreme form of the thought experiment!)


Imagine…. Imagine…


What about reality?


Imagine I could ask you, dear reader, what is the issue about which you care the most? Social injustice, environment, scientific progress, economic stability, culture, immigration, terrorism, leisure or other?

Which candidate has stood for your cause consistently during the past 40 years? Which candidate has to apologize and how often for a bad choice made?

Let’s narrow our focus now to the current, most recent political landscape of the past two months. My last question to you the reader would be: how come nobody ever questions Bernie Sander’s consistency and integrity on the issues he has tackled in the past 40 years (you may like his approach or not) and nobody has never doubted that he is indeed talking about real, not imaginary, issues, but on the contrary a lot of Americans still wonder if they could ever trust Hilary, who has had for 40 years different platforms and great visibility to express in her own words what she believes in and fight for it? (Please continue to disregard what corrupt opinion makers, envy etc., might have suggested).

Finally, how come Hilary, after having planned this race (and the previous race) for president for so long, finds herself, still in recent days, changing her mind (admitting she is indeed changing her mind and not only vocalizing something different to opportunistically please)? How come she sounds more and more like Bernie? Is it perhaps because Bernie’s message and position is not so wrong or off after all? Is the question then if a rightful position can be realized in the foreground of the current political landscape? It looks difficult given a bi-party system where Republicans would oppose Democrats just by principle.

Is it impossible? To answer, I would suggest we look at history to find that Roosevelt and Kennedy have been heralds of the same political program as Bernie. And they achieved the change when it was equally if not even more difficult (think of the Great Depression and the achievements of the New Deal still in effect today).

Many months after the drafting of this article, Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States. I could not prevent myself from thinking: what if we were just trapped in the Twilight Zone? What if this was a bad dream? What if this was a godly lesson to humans to understand the value of a truly democratic society that doesn’t leave anybody behind who can transform themselves into a monstrous antagonist?

At this point, I just wonder how the revolt of those who finally had their voices heard after having been for so long disregarded is going to affect the somehow arrogant assumption by the intelligentsia of having fully comprehended today’s society.

How much longer can we keep laughing?

And yet, after all this experimenting in our minds, I would like to finally invite each of us, to be as objective as possible and to do a better job than corporate media in presenting the facts and to offer our interpretation. Let’s back up our opinions with videos of events and speeches. I would especially invite each of us to continue to foster dialogue. It is the very essence of the democratic values to defend freedom and education and to deprecate discrimination.

I will do all I can to support organizations that have been active for decades. And I remain an engaged member of “Our Revolution.”





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