Fri 9 Apr 2010
… who cares? We’ve known this for a long time, notwithstanding sappy nostalgic claims about the intellectual quality of conservatives in the 70′s and 80′s. So let’s look at the claims, all from people whose opinions I respect:
I’ve written a bit lately about what I see as a systematic trend toward “epistemic closure” in the modern conservative movement.
[...] you begin to see how deep the extremism runs in today’s Dixified, nihilist radical Republican party.
The right just isn’t like that. It’s less demographically diverse, less diverse in its financial base, and less ideologically diverse.
Intellectually, the children of the Bush Administration on the right are a lost generation. They may grow in wisdom, chastened by experience, but this will come at a price of lost confidence; or they may retain their confidence, but this will come at the greater price of never attaining wisdom.
I tend to agree with Sanchez and Sullivan[.]
This is who they are–the proud and ignorant. If you believe that if we still had segregation we wouldn’t “have had all these problems,” this is the movement for you. If you believe that your president is a Muslim sleeper agent, this is the movement for you. If you honor a flag raised explicitly to destroy this country then this is the movement for you. If you flirt with secession, even now, then this movement is for you. If you are a “Real American” with no demonstrable interest in “Real America” then, by God, this movement of alchemists and creationists, of anti-science and hair tonic, is for you.
And I completely agree. The right is filled with closed minds and idiotic beliefs of all stripes. But I put a “but” at the top of this post. Why? Because which is more destructive? A rapidly shrinking group of close-minded idiots, beset on all fronts by radically shifting opinions (out of their favor) on religion, homosexuality, gay marriage, pot use, immigration, evolution, and foreign wars of intervention? Or an actually-in-power group that seems to enjoy wide public support for massive spending programs at a point in our history where we can’t afford them?
It seems so weird to focus on beating up the Republicans (though they richly deserve it) when they are losing so badly. The best paragraph in Julian Sanchez’s piece is this:
Contemplate how vertigo-inducing this must be. You’ve got a local community where a certain set of cultural norms is so dominant that it’s just seen as obvious and natural that a lesbian wouldn’t have an equal right to participate in prom—to the point where the overt hostility isn’t really directed at Constance’s sexuality so much as her bewildering insistence on messing with the way everyone knowsthings are supposed to be. They’re not attuned to the injustice because it seems like almost a fact of nature. Except they’re now flooded with undeniable evidence that a hell of a lot of people don’t see things that way, and even hold their community in contempt for seeing things that way. There have been thousands of “outside” posts in a handful of days, with more every minute. (Think of the small-town high school quarterback getting to college and realizing, to his astonishment, that everyone thinks the “art fags” he used to slag on are the cool ones. Except without even leaving the small town.)
What is he describing here? An intellectual movement completely under assault by the rest of the country, which reacts in horror and disgust at their stupidity. A movement that is only able to survive in these little small towns if they maintain blissful ignorance of the wider world. Is this really our enemy? It sounds like they’ve lost already. I certainly get the “let’s stamp out the last few cockroaches behind the fridge” but if the only political alternative to these cockroaches is a party spending billions of dollars we don’t have (to use the current Hit&Run slogan: “We Are Out Of Money”) and accelerating a financial disaster, then I’m not sure this is a sound tactical decision.
Yet at least 3 of the people listed above generally supported healthcare reform, which exacerbated this issue. And don’t give me that “budget neutral” crap, because even if it is, those cuts/taxes needed to pay for HCR could have been used to pay off the already very large debt we had. HCR didn’t put us in debt, it put us even more drastically in debt by using up the low-hanging revenue sources.
I said I put a “but” in the title for a reason. And here’s what I’d put after it: “… but the Democrats are closed-minded idiots too — and the things they are idiotic about have much worse consequences and enjoy enough popular support that they don’t even have to seem open-minded.”
“You just don’t care about racism/sexism/prejudice, because you’re minimizing their bad effects.”
No, I’m just pointing out that even though bad thing X exists, and is horribly bad, bad thing Y might also exist, and might even be worse. And that we live in a two-party system.
“Spending lots on important stuff even when we have no money is ok, look at how much we’ve done it in the past.”
Well, in the past it was on a smaller scale than this, and lots of times we got out of it by cutting spending on things — and whichever things disapproved of by the party in power usually got cut first. If the Democrats get credit for us running out of money, those close-minded Republicans are going to be the ones in power, determining which things get cut…