Should emotions dictate policy?

Should emotions dictate policy?

Calling in GayShould politicians reach public policy positions because of their personal experience? While all of us have feelings at the micro level, making arguments for national policy based on personal emotion, which is a becoming increasingly common, erodes standards and ultimately damages society.

Take, for instance, same-sex marriage. If a lawmaker changes his or her position on the matter because a family member or close friend happens to be homosexual, it demonstrates two things: 1) the switch is based on emotion, and 2) the power of emotion to override convictions.

We set national standards because we have determined they are best for society despite our personal experiences at the micro level. For example, although we empathize with the person who does not have 20/20 vision to become a pilot, we do not change the standard because we are compassionate.

Likewise with marriage. The purpose of state-endorsed marriage is to promote the ideal arrangement for children and to preserve male-female significance. If we wish to change that, the discussion should begin by asking: what is the purpose of state-sponsored marriage?

Personal compassion and empathy are both necessary and good at the individual level, but translating that compassion into national policy often leads to destructive consequences.

David Weinberger

David Weinberger

David Weinberger previously worked at the Heritage Foundation. He currently resides in the Twin Cities, and he blogs at

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