Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 20:39 | SYDNEY
Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 20:39 | SYDNEY

Politicians in the alternative present


Sam Roggeveen


4 August 2008 14:12

I see the Parmenides Fallacy is making an appearance in American and Australian politics. But although it may be a politically powerful to ask voters if they are better off now than they were X years ago, it's a bogus question. Time does not stand still, and events always intervene, to which political leaders have to respond. That's why it isn't fair to compare the present with the past, and we should instead compare the actual present with an alternative present.

So for Obama and Costello supporters alike, the question is not whether voters are better off now than they were before, but whether you are better off now than you would be if your preferred leader was in charge now. That's a harder question but a more important and informative one, because it forces us to consider how an alternative leader might have dealt with the same challenges faced by the actual leader.