Go Republican, Young EA!

post by ColdButtonIssues · 2022-04-13T04:43:58.122Z · EA · GW · 35 comments

Cross-posted from Cold Button Issues

(Edited to make a more modest claim following discussion in the comments-originally claimed EAs interested in using public policy should almost all be Republicans, now claiming EAs interested in partisan politics should almost all be Republicans)

Young effective altruists in the United States interested in using partisan politics to make the world better should almost all be Republicans. They should not be Democrats, they should not be Greens, they should be Republicans.

First, because the Republican Party matters a lot. Second, there is way less competition among young people to climb within the Republican Party, at least within key fields.

There’s a pretty good chance that after 2024, we’ll see a Republican President, maybe a Trump Administration 2.0. Metacalus says it’s a tossup as of today. And Metacalus also thinks that Republicans will control Congress after 2022. There are already 23 states where Republicans control the legislature and the governorship (a trifecta). What the Republican party does is a huge deal! 

The other reason is that it will make you quirky and unique. No, really. Young people are so left-wing these days. 58% of millennials voted for Biden over Trump. And the tendency is even more extreme for those with more degrees or coming from elite universities. So young Democrats seeking internships on campaigns or in DC face intense competition for even entry-level roles. Young Republicans have a much more favorable labor market.  Anecdotally, in the last week an acquaintance of mine with a CV full of liberal activism was even offered a job at conservative NGO, where she had been striking out with liberal organizations. I think this is probably because conservatives have to compete for young talent, whereas young liberal talent has to compete for positions.

Right-wing groups put a fair amount of effort into trying to recruit young activists. You can join the College Republicans of course. But there are also paid fellowships offered by right-wing groups hoping to recruit Gen Z supporters such as the Hudson Institute. There are easy on-ramps to conservative politics to the United States, and given the scarcity of young conservatives it will be much easier for you to stand out and move up.

The place where this advantage is the most obvious is probably the legal field. About 70% of lawyers who involve themselves in politics via political donations lean Democratic. Yale Law School is so left-leaning that events featuring dissenting speakers are mobbed by protesters. So being a conservative law student or lawyer is probably unpleasant. But if you want to be a judge, being a conservative in the legal field is great! Probably around half of all future federal judges will be Republican-appointees, and there are many states and counties across the country where being a Republican will help a lawyer become a judge.

But what if you think the Republican Party is just a million times worse than the Democratic Party? Personally, I don’t think that’s true. And on a lot of issues effective altruists care about (artificial intelligence, the long-run future),  there aren’t clear partisan lines and presidential candidates certainly aren’t using these issues as platform planks. Sure, one party as it currently stands is almost certainly better on average, but either party could shift on many issues. We don’t what the Republican Party will think about artificial intelligence in two years! But lots of important issues are so low-profile that if you rise in either party and land in the right spot in the federal bureaucracy, you could be making important decisions regardless of what your party thinks about abortion or healthcare.

But for those effective altruists who are pretty sure the Democratic Party is way better, perhaps those championing open borders or stricter animal welfare laws, or those who think international cooperation via the United Nations is really amazing, I would urge them to think on the margin. The more awesome the Democratic Party is on the issue you care about, the less value you bring by joining that party. If you managed to win a high position in Democratic politics, you’ll simply be displacing a person who might have been almost as good as you. The more odious you think the Republican Party is, the more uplifting your presence will be and the greater value you will contribute by rising within that party. Joining the Republican Party is great idea!

Why don’t more people do this? Well, why don’t more people donate to “effective charities?” One popular argument is that people donate to get “warm fuzzies,” a happy and affirming glow you get when you imagine kids with cancer dancing with Cinderella at Disney World or dogs finding happy homes. Effective altruists sometimes (although I think this tendency has faded as the movement has aged) like to contrast themselves with people who are driven by warm fuzzies, and present themselves as driven by a logical and rigorous devotion to human welfare, total utility, or the preservation of human life.

But I think a lot of effective altruists, even ones who don’t care that much about warm fuzzies, care a lot about cold uggies. Cold uggies are the things that make you feel bad or embarrassed or nervous that people will catch you doing something wrong. 

Effective altruism is not only left-leaning relative to the general population, its chock full of the types of people you would expect to be left-leaning like vegans, atheists, academics, and San Franciscan nonprofit workers. I think joining the Republican Party in such a movement would make a lot of people nervous- about their social standing, attractiveness to funders, and also that icky feeling you get when you’re doing something all your friends think is so uncool. I’m writing this under a pseudonym after all!

But cold uggies are exactly what effective altruists should be seeking out. Disdained, bizarre or even taboo fields are where there are real, neglected, opportunities, where you might find some low-hanging fruit in the middle of a creepy swamp.

A couple years back, there was an article where someone suggested reaching out to Republicans. The idea that effective altruists should reach out to different groups constantly recurs. To Christians! To Jews! To young people! To women! But when it came to outreach to Republicans, the article asked should we “be more welcoming to thoughtful and aligned Republicans [EA · GW].” And this was a piece relatively sympathetic to Republicans and thinking the answer to that question was probably yes. 

But I think if you’re a movement that reaches the point where it contemplates maybe trying to include Group X, or at least the ones who aren’t truly awful and are semi-thoughtful, it’s maybe a sign that your movement is actually super-unwelcoming to Group X.

I think this is bad. Effective altruists, or a lot of them, are pretty sympathetic to George Mason economists, some of them with fringe views about education, social status games, open borders, and artificial intelligence. Or open to claims that our moral theories need to account for maybe living in a multiverse. This seems good! But it seems bad that people with wholly conventional views about US politics would feel excluded! And it also seems obviously bad that people who could have a big, positive impact on the world by joining the Republican Party are repelled by cold uggies, when they should be attracted by them.

There are some American effective altruists who shouldn’t or at least needn’t become Republicans, such as those who have already accumulated substantial career capital on the left or are focused on animal welfare in a way that likely wouldn’t get anywhere with the Republican Party.

But as for the rest: Welcome to the party of Lincoln!

35 comments

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comment by Rhyss (RhysSouthan) · 2022-04-13T08:22:28.732Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This post leaves some dots unconnected. 

Are you suggesting that people pretend to have beliefs they don't have in order to have a good career and also shift the Republican party from the inside? 

Are you suggesting that anyone can be a Republican as long as they have a couple of beliefs or values that are not totally at odds with those of the Republican party — even if the majority of their beliefs and values are far more aligned with another party? 

Or by telling people to join the Republican party, are you suggesting they actively change some of their beliefs or stances in order to fit in, but then focus on shaping the party to be aligned with EA values that it is currently kind of neutral about?

It doesn't seem you're saying the first thing, because you don't say anything about hiding one's true beliefs, and you have the example of the openly left-wing acquaintance who got a job at a conservative NGO. 

If you're saying the second thing, I think this is more difficult then you're imagining. I don't mean emotionally difficult because of cold uggies. I mean strategically or practically difficult because participation in certain political parities is generally meant to be constrained by preexisting beliefs. If you are going to join a party and work up a career ladder in that party, you can't do this without interacting with other people in that party. And those people are going to want to talk to you about your political beliefs. If they find out your political beliefs are mostly or totally unaligned with the Republican party, but you have these other interests (like AI safety) that are for now maybe party neutral — but really you're joining the party because it is more desperate for young people and/or you want to steer the party away from its current direction — you're going to have trouble being taken seriously as a Republican, and you could be treated as a hostile invader. That could make it hard to achieve your goals in joining. The example of your acquaintance suggests this may not be impossible, but you haven't said what she has done within the NGO. Is she changing the NGO to better fit with her values, or does she now have to ignore her own values to keep the job? Did the NGO happen to focus on the one area within the Republican party she already agreed with? 


You imply the notion of replaceability to defend joining the Republican party. If your values are aligned with the Democrats, and you become a Democrat and try to get jobs within the Democratic party, then you've taken a spot from someone who would have behaved similarly to you. But if your values and beliefs are aligned with the Democrats and you join the Republican party and get Republican jobs, you've displaced an actual Republican who would have had worse values and done worse things in the job, and by doing this, you can more drastically change the values of the party than you would change the values of a party you agree with.

This is interesting but I doubt replaceability works in this case. First, it assumes parties and the jobs within them are zero sum. This seems wrong. Parties and the number of jobs within them can grow. There is not an inevitably limited set of Republican spots. There can be more of these if more people join the party. So if your values are unaligned with Republicans, and you join the party to block an actual Republican from getting a job and influencing the party, it may turn out that you've blocked no one from anything, and have only grown a party that you think is largely a force for bad. 

Second, this isn't like earning to give by getting a finance job and donating lots of money under the assumption that the next person who would have got that job would not have donated. You don't actually have to have or pretend to have a certain set of values to work in finance (though some values would make the job more emotionally difficult than others, and certain values will make it easier to get along with co-workers than others). The main thing you have to do is be good at the job. If you donate most of your income from your high paid job, people you work with might find it weird, but they probably won't treat you as a hostile invader. In contrast, you do need to have certain beliefs or values to be accepted as a Republican. 

So, replaceability doesn't really seem to apply to joining ideological organizations. It doesn't make sense to join ideological organizations that are unaligned with your own values because of a perceived redundancy in joining an ideological organization you actually agree with. Again, because it's not zero sum, and because you will not be easily accepted by ideological organizations you disagree with.

Maybe you're thinking that if young people who don't like the Republican party join it nevertheless, their values could drift and become more Republican over time, and so they will eventually fit in while hopefully maintaining their concern for AI safety or whatever EA interests they started with. This avoids the hostile invader problem but not the problem of growing a party they were initially at odds with.

You come across as sympathetic to the Republican party. This makes me think you might be telling people to do the third thing: actively change their beliefs to be more Republican, maybe by hanging around Republicans and letting value drift take over, but still trying to hold on to some core EA ideas that have not been politicized yet. Perhaps you even think the value drift itself would be good.

I think this approach would make the most sense to someone who is on the fence between different political ideologies and maybe leans slightly toward the Democrats but doesn't think Republicans are horrible. Maybe a lot of libertarians would qualify. It would make sense to tell all this to them. But you've claimed any young EA who isn't already on a career track incompatible with the Republican party should join the Republican party. This is unrealistic. I think most people who dislike the Republican Party are not going to want to risk the harm that a future version of themselves could do if they start agreeing with Republicans on a lot of things and help to grow the Republican party. This is not because of cold uggs, but because they might worry that taking your advice could lead them to make the world worse.

Replies from: ColdButtonIssues
comment by ColdButtonIssues · 2022-04-13T13:57:14.362Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I don't think most EAs have an obligation to involve themselves in politics at all and I don't think every young EA should join the GOP- but I do think :

"Young effective altruists in the United States interested in using public policy to make the world better should almost all be Republicans."

The people I would most like to think about this post are:

  1. EAs who are conservative/centrist. Since I think  there are too few EAs within the Republican Party, I think they should keep in mind that they can probably do more good than a similar EA who is contemplating entering politics on the left. They might still conclude that earning-to-give or direct work is more valuable, but the expected value of entering politics on the US right is higher, imo, than entering politics on the left.
  2. People who care a ton about a specific issue to the point other issues seem small and think politics/public policy can contribute to this field and think the Republican Party isn't actively working against them on this issue. People really worried about near-term AGI risk or pandemics I think could fall into this bucket. I think animal welfare advocates or open borders advocates would not. Another exception would be YIMBYs in blue cities, where all the politicians are Democrats.

Re: acquaintance- she took a job working on the specific issue she happens to be more conservative on.

Replies from: IanDavidMoss, Bluefalcon
comment by IanDavidMoss · 2022-04-14T12:43:23.121Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Okay, but...

  1. EAs who are conservative/centrist. 
  2. People who care a ton about a specific issue to the point other issues seem small and think politics/public policy can contribute to this field and think the Republican Party isn't actively working against them on this issue

...does not describe a large proportion of young US-based EAs interested in policy -- I would guess less than 50% for sure, and perhaps less than 25%. Yet in the post and even in your comment above, your repeated claim is that they should almost all be Republicans. That's not a small detail in your argument, and your clarifications in the comments suggest that it should be revisited.

Replies from: ColdButtonIssues
comment by ColdButtonIssues · 2022-04-14T14:59:29.099Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, Ian (and others).

Thinking about my original claim that "[y]oung effective altruists in the United States interested in using public policy to make the world better should almost all be Republicans."

I've been convinced that it's overstated because of:

a) people who use public policy without engaging in obviously partisan politics like academics and other researchers.

b) effective altruists working on urban issues in blue cities or state-level issues in CA, NY, or other blue states where the Republican Party is really weak.

c) People working on a subset of issues where the Democratic Party is more promising. I personally think this subset is very small and the only issue I would confidently place here is animal welfare (if you're involved in Republican/conservative politics let me know) but I know some EAs in the comments would add more issues.

I think a revised claim that I'm still confident of would be "young effective altruists in the United States interested in using partisan politics to make the world better should almost all be Republicans."

This claim could still be wrong if my overall reasoning is wrong or the number of policy-oriented EAs working on animal issues or some other issues is a lot bigger than I think

Replies from: RyanCarey, IanDavidMoss
comment by RyanCarey · 2022-04-14T15:32:21.263Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I don't think you want to advocate for people to pursue R politics if they can't do it in good conscience, i.e. they can't even convince themselves that they agree with many R views. This would rule out a lot of folks, but would still leave a lot too.

comment by IanDavidMoss · 2022-04-15T03:31:06.588Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Upvoted for reconsidering based on feedback and updating the OP to convey your revised viewpoint. I still think the revised claim is too strong for reasons that others have pointed out, but I appreciate that you've been willing to engage.

Re c) above, "People working on a subset of issues where the Democratic Party is more promising. I personally think this subset is very small": I'm very surprised that you don't think the Republican Party is substantially worse on climate change. I know that there is some momentum among younger conservatives to take climate change seriously, but if you look at where party leadership is right now, including the policies enacted during Trump's term, it's really quite bad. I would be interested to hear a counter-argument to this if you have one.

Immigration seems like another issue where the GOP is categorically worse, unless you just don't think that immigration is a good thing at all (which seems like a very rare position in EA).

With that said, I do think you are very right that the Republican Party isn't going away anytime soon and completely neglecting it is not a smart strategy for the movement.

comment by Vilfredo's Ghost (Bluefalcon) · 2022-04-14T05:55:01.960Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

If I lived in, or were inclined to move to, a red state and wanted to go into politics, I'd become a moderate Republican for the reasons you mention. Anywhere else I don't think so. Pandemic risk already looks pretty politicized to me. Pre-2016 it didn't; Bush did a lot of good work on it and I suspect Romney would have. But it is now. Biden came up with a decent pandemic prevention plan and the senate killed it just for fun. AI alignment so far is not, and seems like it could realistically remain apolitical if it's mainly treated as a defense or foreign policy issue. 

 

In a swing state, your participation in one party does seek to, and has a viable chance to, actively grow the number of jobs within that party, i.e. by replacing potential elected officials of the other party (and their appointees) with officials of your party.  And in a blue state Republicans will simply be irrelevant, except in wave years where the state effectively becomes a swing state, with the same attendant problems. So there are quite real costs to this if you are broadly aligned with left-wing values. You're sometimes replacing a generic Republican with yourself, and sometimes replacing a generic Democratic with your (by necessity somewhat more conservative) self.  Maybe worth it for the benefits to AI risk but I'd like to see a Fermi estimate of what you believe the expected value of your contributions on that issue would be vs. the harm done by having to 1) work to elect other Republicans, 2) vote for or otherwise help enact Republican policies once in office (which will depend heavily on the position, so actually I'd like to see the estimates for different positions; i.e. maybe becoming a Republican is a good tradeoff if you're going to work in specialized and mostly apolitical roles in defense or foreign policy but not so much if you're going to have to make it through a GOP primary for Congress). 

 

You may also be undervaluing people's existing networks, but it depends on what unstated assumptions you are making here.  If you run for office, you have to rely on your friends and family to get at least the first tranche of money. If you come from a liberal background and become a Republican,  are they going to disown you? That's not just cold uggos; it's a serious practical problem with being able to run. Long run I think you can overcome that by building up your network within the GOP. BUT if you're worried about AI risk, which is the one promising reason I see to do this, you may not have enough time to build your network! So this is only a viable strategy if you are primarily concerned about AI risk, AND either expect a long timeline,  OR already have a ready to go GOP/bipartisan network to fundraise from. So if you're serious about this idea, maybe you first need to present it to EAs who'd be interested in donating to a Republican EA candidate and get the fundraising machine set up, so you can solve this problem for anyone who takes your advice. 

Replies from: ChristianKleineidam
comment by ChristianKleineidam · 2022-07-01T13:33:00.903Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Biden came up with a decent pandemic prevention plan and the senate killed it just for fun. 

It seems that the pandemic prevention plan was supposed to be part of the infrastructure bill. The people who negotiated the infrastructure bill and removed the pandemic prevention plan from it were all Democrats and not Republicans. 

Nobody threatened to filibuster pandemic preparedness. 

If someone cares about pandemic preparedness stopping gain-of-function research is an important issue and it's likely easy to push for that from the Republican side. The Republican side is also less engaging in denialism about the origins of COVID-19. 

Trump worked to deregulate the FDA and push for vaccine development while Biden's FDA blocked Omicron-specific vaccines now for more than half a year. 

comment by Larks · 2022-04-13T18:36:09.042Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Great post.

I think the key takeaway for people should not be that left wing people should join the Republican Party (because that would be dishonest, and they would probably hate it anyway), but that right wing EAs should feel socially supported to join the Republican Party (etc.). Happy to discuss the topic further offline with anyone who wants to.

comment by RedStateBlueState · 2022-04-13T05:12:52.935Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

There is a big difference between working in policy institutions and in politics/campaigning directly. By working in Republican policy institutions (eg think tanks), you can have enormous impact that you couldn’t while working under Democrats. By working in Republican campaigns, you are contributing (non-negligibly given the labor shortage you describe!) to the fall of US democracy and a party that has much worse views on almost every subject under most moral frameworks.

For someone with a reasonably clear picture of the moral impacts of policy, working under Republicans is also enormously emotionally difficult. Valuable, yes, but not for the faint of heart.

Replies from: ColdButtonIssues, MarcSerna, gworley3
comment by ColdButtonIssues · 2022-04-13T14:02:47.745Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think campaign labor and campaign donations are distributed pretty inefficiently. Lots of money pours into races that appear hopeless (for example). So for instance I think you could work on a primary campaign for a US House candidate without meaningfully influencing which party controls the House.

Think tanks do seem like a better choice for people who think the Republicans, are not merely worse but extraordinarily worse.

comment by MarcSerna · 2022-04-14T17:33:12.523Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

The question that comes to my mind is:

Could you accept being part of a process that is harmful (and already happening) for the chance to make it less harmful?

Replies from: Davidmanheim
comment by Davidmanheim · 2022-07-03T16:31:23.174Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

...are you just asking whether they accept expected value reasoning, or are you making a different point?

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley3) · 2022-04-13T17:51:09.311Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

to the fall of US democracy and a party that has much worse views on almost every subject under most moral frameworks.

This seems like a pretty partisan take and fails to adequately consider metaethical uncertainty. There's nothing about this statement that I couldn't imagine a sincere Republican with good intentions saying about Democrats and being basically right (and wrong!) for the same reasons (right assuming their normative framework, wrong when we suppose normative uncertainty).

comment by Arjun Panickssery (ModusTrollens) · 2022-04-13T07:12:16.286Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

But I think if you’re a movement that reaches the point where it contemplates maybe trying to include Group X, or at least the ones who aren’t truly awful and are semi-thoughtful, it’s maybe a sign that your movement is actually super-unwelcoming to Group X.

I think this is bad. Effective altruists, or a lot of them, are pretty sympathetic to George Mason economists, some of them with fringe views about education, social status games, open borders, and artificial intelligence. Or open to claims that our moral theories need to account for maybe living in a multiverse. This seems good! But it seems bad that people with wholly conventional views about US politics would feel excluded! And it also seems obviously bad that people who could have a big, positive impact on the world by joining the Republican Party are repelled by cold uggies, when they should be attracted by them.

For what it's worth, my experience at EAGx Boston two weeks ago was in line with this comment [EA(p) · GW(p)] I remember from How Effective Altruists Can Be Welcoming To Conservatives: [EA · GW]

Of all the academic, activist, and Silicon Valley-type communities I belong to, EA is the most inclusive to (US) conservative ideas.

I remarked to some friends while leaving that I had never met so many people so left-wing whose eyes lit up with enthusiasm when I mentioned that I was interested in Republican party politics. Cause areas related to X-risk, foreign aid, etc. are relatively bipartisan. 

Replies from: whomst
comment by whomst · 2022-04-16T22:27:10.639Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Yea that makes sense. US foreign policy is relatively consistent between different presidents from different parties back-to-back. There is pretty large overlap with the George Mason economists that might be more relevant while the "young EAs" advance in their careers as the party naturally shifts its views.

comment by atlasunshrugged · 2022-04-14T01:04:17.710Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

As someone working in a Republican office in Congress doing tech policy this really resonates with me. I think for folks who are libertarian or just apolitical/ambivalent generally about culture war issues then this is a solid way to go, especially on the tech policy front which skews heavily D and means it'll be easier to stand out. As a warning though, these labels stick, so just think hard about whether you're ready to commit to a pathway (not that you can never cross the aisle, it just becomes significantly more difficult to do so after a few years in one party).

comment by BrownHairedEevee (evelynciara) · 2022-04-13T06:40:45.314Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Yes and no. I'm trans, and the entire GOP establishment has become openly hostile to trans rights, so simping for Republican politicians wouldn't work for me. But I could maybe see myself working at an economics-focused org like the American Enterprise Institute or the Niskanen Center, where I'd fit in somewhat because of my general belief in (left-leaning) economic liberalism but colleagues might engage less in open culture war with me. Economist Deirdre McCloskey has had a successful career despite being a trans woman who mostly seems to hang out with conservative types (she claims that Milton Friedman supported her gender transition). People with similarly marginalized identities, including other LGBTQ+ people, people of color, women, Muslims, and the nonreligious, should also consider whether the environment at conservative political orgs will feel inclusive; choosing to work in an org whose culture is toxic for you could damage your mental health and, in turn, your daily and long-term job performance. But I agree that this is a good pro tanto reason to work for one.

Replies from: ColdButtonIssues, gworley3
comment by ColdButtonIssues · 2022-04-13T13:45:03.934Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I agree that people shouldn't make themselves miserable working in a hostile environment, and that some people can reasonably expect to be less welcomed as you pointed out.

I think the American Enterprise Institute is a good example of an alternative way to work on the right. As for Niskanen, my impression is that they're no longer viewed as aligned with the right at all. The conservative Capital Research Center describes them as "nominally libertarian" and talks about how they're funded by left-wing donors like Open Society.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley3) · 2022-04-13T17:46:22.619Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

While I don't want to suggest that you or any other person who feels the GOP has an obligation to work for them, part of the reason they are able to be hostile to various groups is because those groups are not part of how they get elected. If tomorrow the GOP was dependent on LGBTQ votes to win elections, they'd transform into a different party.

So while I'm not expert enough here to see how to change the current situation, I think there is something interesting about changing the incentive gradients for both parties to make them both more inclusive (both construct on outgroup—GOP: minorities and foreigners, Democrats: rural and working-class white people) and I expect that to have positive outcomes.

Replies from: Peter Gebauer
comment by Peter (Peter Gebauer) · 2022-04-13T20:48:52.681Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Isn't saying to support a worse party in hopes that it becomes better like saying you should support a worse business in hopes that it becomes better? If they already have your vote/money/support why would they change? 

Repeatedly losing elections seems like it would be more likely to cause the Republican party to change. 

Replies from: gworley3
comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley3) · 2022-04-14T03:51:33.887Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Two thoughts:

  1. We should be careful about claiming the GOP is the "worse party". Worse for whom? Maybe they are doing things you don't like, but half the country thinks the Democrats are the worse party. We should be wise to the state of normative uncertainty we are in. Neither party is really worse except by some measure, and because of how they are structured against each other one party being worse means the other is better by that measure. If you wanted to make a case that one party or the other is better for EA and then frame the claim that way I think it'd be fine.
  2. Yes, causing a party to lose its base is a great way to force the party to change, though note that this isn't an isolated system, changing the GOP will also change the Democratic Party and that might not actually be for the better. Some might argue we were better off before Southern white voters were "betrayed" by the Democratic Party on civil rights legislation and abortion, since my understanding is that that caused the shift to the current party alignment structure and ended a long era of bipartisanship. Looking back, many have said they would have moved slower to avoid the long term negative consequences caused by moving fast and then not really getting the desired outcome due to reactionary pushback. This suggests we might be better off trying for slow change given uncertain effects of what will happen in a dynamic system.
comment by Anton Rodenhauser · 2022-04-20T08:59:16.696Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Scott Alexander wrote a nice article on what the Republican's program could/should be: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/a-modest-proposal-for-republicans?s=r   

comment by david_reinstein · 2022-04-14T04:00:00.389Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

You should rephrase the first paragraph/opening statement.

Young effective altruists in the United States interested in using public policy to make the world better should almost all be Republicans. They should not be Democrats, they should not be Greens, they should be Republicans...

The other reason is that it will make you quirky and unique. No, really. Young people are so left-wing these days.

Your opener suggests that young EAs should change their beliefs/stripes to make them other than left-wing and thus unique. You say in the comments something like 'I only meant people who are on the fence politically'. But this doesn't come across in the opener.

I agree with RhysSouthan that 'faking it' (conservativism) will not work. To the extent it could be done, I suspect this ruse or transformation would be emotionally and psychologically damaging.

Yes, I'd like to see Republicans identifying with EA principles, having EA-ish epistemics, supporting things like animal welfare. But I don't think we can make this happen by insincerely switching teams. And the current Trump-ish Republican party makes it even more difficult.

comment by Linch · 2022-04-13T13:12:14.651Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Related points [EA · GW] I made a while ago.

Replies from: ColdButtonIssues
comment by ColdButtonIssues · 2022-04-13T13:39:10.529Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I enjoyed your article and I linked back to it in the text, but perhaps I could have been clearer that I was referencing your work!

I think you're right. I also think it's a weakness in EA that we have to or have chosen to couch outreach to Republicans/US conservatives in such careful terms. I think we should in general just be welcome aboard to most people!

There are some issues where the ideological divide seems pretty stark. For instance, I don't know if a majority of EAs support literal open borders but I'd be surprised if support for massive increases in immigration to developed countries wasn't a majority position among EAs. That's a big gap between EAs and the modal Republican.

Replies from: Linch
comment by Linch · 2022-04-13T14:01:36.517Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Sorry my bad I didn't see your reference! 

comment by Robin · 2022-04-16T15:48:43.019Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the comments that you are massively overconfident in the applicability of your logic and your title, but raise a good point for a marginal-but-political voter. However in practice both USA parties are actively ridding themselves of moderates, so an important first step is to push for voting reforms that make it possible for young, sane people to get into positions of power in the Republican party without either actually or pretending to hold a swathe of clearly harmful views about e.g. climate change, abortion access and pandemic preparedness. Republicans know their demographics have bad optics, so unless you actually believe they are the better party, you want to be sure to get a good deal on policy in exchange for fixing them.

comment by MarcSerna · 2022-04-14T17:28:07.588Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think this is a great idea, I hope someone is crazy enough to try. 

The key point might be that the most important EA ideas are not partisan (all existential risks, improved quality of aid, caring for the long term future) and could be adopted by more than 90% of parties in the Western world. 

A less radical version would be "EA's who care about politics but don't identify with any party should overcome that shyness and evaluate which parties are they at least slightly aligned with, and which ones present to them the greatest opportunity."

In Europe there are several powerful parties, even in government, that have a structural problem attracting young people.

Another one would be that EA's trying to lobby for a particular idea should seek interactions with all parties until key ideas become the default option for everybody. 

comment by MatthewDahlhausen · 2022-04-13T14:53:19.122Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps it is the upbeat tone of the writing, but I can't tell if this post is meant to be sarcastic or earnest. Can you clarify?

Replies from: ColdButtonIssues
comment by ColdButtonIssues · 2022-04-13T15:32:24.676Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This piece is sincere. I think the Republican Party is a really powerful institution that will make really important decisions in the future. Individuals within the party (bureaucrats, politicians) and those affiliated with them (activists, donors, think tankers, writers) will continue to influence the United States and the world.

There also seems to be very few EAs in the party or aligned even though EAs would work through the party and the broader US right on all kinds of issues like X-risk or pandemic preparedness and so forth.

I also think it's probably easier to rise in the GOP than the Democratic Party if you're a young person, especially one with elite credentials, because there will be less competition.

Replies from: MatthewDahlhausen
comment by MatthewDahlhausen · 2022-04-14T03:30:48.524Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for clarifying. I think there are few EAs aligned with the Republican party because the party takes an opposite stance to EAs on most issues. Animal welfare, climate change, healthcare, eradicating extreme poverty, support for democracy, inclusion for LGBTQ+, women, immigrants, and minorities are a few.

I see your point that'd it be much easier to rise to power and prominence within the party given the talent vacuum. I think the potential for harm is much greater - would an EA in the republican party work against other EAs in many of the areas I listed, just to advance some more neutral policy goal? How far does that justification go? Is the loss of democracy and lives of many marginal people worth it? I think it is difficult to understate how extreme the party has become over the last 30 years, especially in the last 6 years; it has taken a hard turn towards religious ethno-nationalism and staged an almost successful coup just over a year ago.

I've had engineers describe to me how if they didn't design cluster munitions or land mines, someone else would and they can make them less bad. At what point in that race to the bottom does replaceability stop being a valid justification?

comment by projectionconfusion · 2022-04-17T21:50:32.254Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Value drift seems like a risk. You might start off with a set of altruistic beliefs, but if you spend all your professional and social time around a set of people who don't share those beliefs then you are likely to adopt those beliefs, for the various well studied psychological effects of conformity and what information you will be being exposed to. 

comment by CronoDAS · 2022-07-01T18:54:41.441Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This is an odious comparison, but one could make the same argument about joining the Nazi party in 1930s Germany. Furthermore, considering the Republican stance on climate change, I'm not actually sure which would be worse.

400 years from now, there are only two things today's US government has great power over that will have mattered; whether there is a large scale nuclear war, and whether there was devastating climate change. The Republican party is directly making the second problem much worse.

Civilization recovered from the Black Plague, World War II, and the Mongol invasions (which killed about as many people as World War II when the world's population was a lot smaller). I do not know if it can recover from severe climate change caused by either nuclear winter or greenhouse gas emissions.

The worst case scenario for climate change is worse than you think - it's not simply massive famines, millions of refugees, and geopolitical instability. It's a replay of the Great Dying, the biggest mass extinction in Earth's history. And it was caused by greenhouse gases released by volcanoes and the burning of underground carbon deposits caused by those same volcanoes. Warming temperatures caused the ocean circulation that brings oxygen from the ocean's surface to its depths to slow down, creating the conditions for anerobic bacteria to thrive: anerobic bacteria that produce the poisonous gas hydrogen sulfide, and they produced enough to make the entire atmosphere lethally toxic. The worst possible climate change scenario doesn't just mean there's not enough food for everyone, it means taking off your gas mask will kill you.

When it comes right down to it, I'd vote for Hitler over a climate change denialist - and I'm Jewish!