Economic models are always huge oversimplifications of the global economy. They have to be: how else can we hope to say something about the unthinkable complexity that results from billions of individual decisions made by human beings, whose brains are likewise incredibly complicated. When economists form models, they inevitably emphasize certain aspects of the picture over other aspects. No one model can represent the full story.
It seems to me that something similar is going on with all the narratives I’ve seen attempting to explain this moment in our nation’s political history. This last election was the result of millions and millions of individual human decisions, any one of which involves a complicated human brain interacting with a unique set of life circumstances. Any narrative that we read – that the election was the result of widespread misogyny, racism, class struggles, voter suppression, the effect of social media, the electoral college – is just like a single economic model. It has chosen to emphasize certain data over other data, and it can at best tell a slice of the story.
The reality of our political present is so complicated, with all these strands colliding and interacting with one another. With this in mind, I find it useful to consider all of these narratives and their implications, but at the same time to keep in mind that, however astute and well considered they are, they are just single-dimensional snapshots of a near infinite-dimensional situation.
In a way, this is kind of comforting to me; or at least, it’s more comforting than a sense of certainty that we’re going to destroy the planet and each other. 🙂