The Law of Conservation of Political Energy
Why political energy can neither be created nor destroyed
Voting and protests—that’s the political energy that you see. But there’s also a form of political energy that you don’t see. This is the energy that builds up between elections and protests. It is always there. It is simply waiting to be expressed and released.
We can use an analogy from physics. In physics, energy is never created or destroyed. It is only converted from one form to another. The same rule applies to political energy. There is visible political energy, which we call “kinetic political energy” because it is expressed as political activity, and then there is invisible political energy, which we call “potential political energy”, because it is stored and has the potential to produce political activity.
Why is this concept important? If we believe that political energy can be destroyed then we may be less likely to compromise and more likely to overpower the political opinions of our rivals. If we believe, however, that doing so will only create a temporary win and will contribute to a buildup of energy that will later be turned against us, then we may have added incentive to come to the table and compromise to make more parties happy, even if we have majority control and don’t need to do so.
How do we know this is true? Each midterm election in the US tends to be won by the party that lost in the major/presidential election that occurred 2 years prior. And these elections are generally won not because of swayed opinions but rather increased turnout. That means the more you make the other side angry and feel like they didn’t get a win, the more likely they are to turnout in the next election and revert the result.
Let’s realize that political energy can be stored and released again but not created or destroyed. And let us act accordingly. Accepting this fact will help us become a more united and less polarizing society.