Trivialities

In the comments section from the article linked here, there was a good comment right off the bat regarding the task the Republican party has to improve its brand.

Most people put more care into choosing a pair of gloves to buy at the store than they do to deciding who to vote for.

Someone else followed that up with an observation about Doctor Parkinson’s tale of the Bicycle Shed which led me to Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. The man, C. Northcote Parkinson, is better known for having dreamt up the adage “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”, otherwise known as Parkinson’s Law.

The Law of Triviality is defined, more or less, as “organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues”. It is alternatively termed the Bike Shed Law, because of the example that CNP used to argue his point. In its essence, bike-shedding is seen in how organizations will spend an inordinate amount of time discussing trivial projects or the trivial details of a project. This is in contrast to the amount of time spent discussing the non-trivial. This concept is a more fully developed version of the old “opinions are like assholes, everybody has one” – apparently, not all all the time.

For me, this law seems easily applied to electoral campaigns, especially those at the national and state levels. In these, the organization, so to speak, is the electorate (guided by the Mainstream Media). Think of how much time and discussion was devoted to trivialities like free contraception and the candidates’ likability.

In the process of investigation, I also re-discovered Sayre’s law: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.”.

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