To the uninitiated, it all might seem the same.
Without a fundamental grasp of economics or sociology, our two party political system might appear to be two sides of the same coin. Granted, in some ways both the political left and right are similar in their duplicity. However in most ways, especially in regards to the departure from the post WW2 economic model that built the largest middle class in the history of western civilization that brought about the civil rights movement and put both a man on the moon and a computer in everyone’s home, only the 21st century Republican party and their sympathetic media affiliates represent a fundamental divergence from the socio/economic ideals that made America great.
With the discourse of the conservative entertainment complex driving the nation’s narrative further and further right, the political middle has moved accordingly. As such, well intentioned political centrists –in an effort to be a voice of reason in our nation’s vitriolic partisanship– are finding themselves making socio/economic concessions that just a few years ago would have been considered both irrational, and far too extreme. Today’s center was yesterday’s far right.
The dismantling of all of the socio/economic mechanisms between FDR and Ronald Reagan has become rationalized via right wing/corporatist/theocratic platitudes. Vilifying the economic functions that created post war America is a singular Republican phenomenon. Yet there remains a concerted effort on the part of many to attempt a political counter-balance by equating less-than-sane, economically illiterate ravings from a GOP –now controlled by fundamentalist, Dominionist Christians– and whatever imbecilic dolt one can dredge from the left.
But these are false equivalents.
For there is no Democratic equal for the Christian Dominionist right, and the twelfth century socio/economic model they propose. Virtually every piece of legislation initiated by the GOP in the twenty-first century is designed to create a greater economic disparity between the very wealthy, and everyone else. There is a consistent effort on the part of the Christian fundamentalist 21st century GOP to subjugate women, punish the poor, and make the working class bear the entire burden of economic austerity. And it has become impossible to run for national office as a republican without capitulating to the Evangelical lobby.
There is no Democratic equivalent for the TEA Party, and their less-than-sane, not too-bright socio/economic affirmations. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement not only couldn’t get traction within the Democratic Party, it ran no candidates for public office. The bastardization of history and scripture –not to mention the thinly veiled bigotry of the TEA Party– have become standard talking points within the Republican party.
Moreover, there is no Democratic equivalent for the irrational ravings of the Conservative Entertainment Complex and their corresponding media affiliates. While MSNBC might be a ridiculously partisan public relations outlet for the left, FOX news has no equal in their fact deficient moral bankruptcy, or their unapologetic conjuring of fear driven non-events . Indeed, FOX News has the worst fact-check record on television, by far. It’s not just that FOX presents “news” in a partisan fashion, they fabricate it to create paranoia from their constituency. Likewise, right- wing talk radio is inundated with hate mongering lunatics who tout paranoid schizophrenic platitudes like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, or Alex Jones… for which there are no comparable counterparts from the left.
And there is no Democratic equivalent for the quasi-celebrities that continually get air-time in the conservative talk-o-sphere. Across America, synaptically impaired conservative celebrities like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Ted Nugent have become stars by blathering irrational, fact deficient banalities. With a pedestrian socio/economic acumen, these dullards get regular spots on conservative TV and radio programs, and get paid to speak at TEA party rallies. There is no Democratic example of this.
So I often hear from folks on social media that both Democrats & Republicans are “equally to blame” for our nation’s economic woes, and that neither party is interested in helping the middle class. But the socio/economic reality is far from that comparison. I understand the noble intention of neutrality, but in this instance, it is misguided.
Like frogs in a kettle, the GOP electorate has been subjected to the economic temperature slowly having been turned up over time. A further right discourse has been slowly introduced to working class Republicans over the past 30 years, and many are finding it difficult to realize that their party has moved away from them. The Corporatist/Christian Dominionist GOP now accords the best interests of an elite few. As it has been in every example of history when religion and politics become one, every Republican socio/economic measure of austerity comes at the expense of the middle class.
So sure, the Democratic party is flawed, and in many ways, infuriating. I get that. But to be a working class Republican in the twenty first century, one must concede reason to willful socio/economic ignorance, if not one’s own bigoted predispositions. Where it concerns sociology, economics, and the mechanisms that made this country great … when juxtaposed against the very ideals the 21st century GOP propose and the history of how theocracies impact the proletariat… There are no rational comparisons to be made between the blemished Democratic party, and the irrational GOP.
As it was during the sixteenth century European counter-reformation, the forces of anti-intellectualism are attempting a coup here in America today. Never in the history of this country has there been an assault on reason like we are experiencing now. We are enduring an unprecedented disregard for scientific consensus and a denial of peer reviewed evidence to the point where there is a significant portion of our population who truly believe that physics defying impossibilities are legitimate explanations.
There are purposefully self deceptive ideologues who are attempting an appropriation of the United States Government, and they go by the name “Tea-vangelicals”. And they have not just taken over the TEA party, but the GOP as well. Indeed, American Theocracy has found a political symbiant.
This movement is like nothing this country has ever seen before. It’s not just that Fundamentalist Christian Tea Partiers don’t understand science (and they don’t) … but they hate it. This is the difference between one who simply doesn’t possesses the ability to comprehend, and an anti-intellectual. TEA-vangelicals fight against knowledge so that they might preserve a literal interpretation of religious scripture long ago accepted as metaphor. It is a concerted effort at rationalizing willful ignorance so as to retreat from the scientific age of enlightenment –on which this nation was founded– back into the shadows of medieval fundamentalism. A frightened, uneducated proletariat is a Theocrat’s greatest ally.
There is also a peripheral ignorance which transcends science denial. Rarely does one repudiate scientific consensus about the origin of our species or the age of our planet and apply critical thinking in other areas. In accordance with the surrendering of one’s intellect to biblical literalism, deliberate incomprehension invariably allows for a dismissal of facts regarding a variety of socio/economic issues. Forming a political ideology that encourages anti-intellectualism –by its very nature– cannot permit reason to permeate its outer defenses.
Hence, much of the TEA party’s socio/economic policy has abandoned reason so as to coincide with its medieval understanding of science. There are very few Republican candidates that dare defy TEA-vangelical precepts, lest they not make it out of their local primaries. So they, too, surrender intellect for votes. Which brings us to the crux of the issue. Our political discourse is infected with fraud, hyperbole, and purposeful deception.
This is not a problem that will go away if ignored. If America hopes to become the nation it once was –the nation that built giant things, defeated fascists and sent men to the moon– we cannot allow the forces of anti-intellectualism — to exist in a century where diseases have been cured, and science has given people back their limbs– to deny facts derived from the very same peer review process that permitted these advancements. Contemporary fundamentalists do not have the luxury of their sixteenth century predecessors. Sane people can no longer blame demons for diseases, or for that matter, blame homosexuals for their genetic predispositions.
We cannot allow the pseudo-science of Christian fundamentalists to be placed on the same shelf as real science. For it is peer reviewed evidence (which survives the trials of scrutiny) that determines viability, not a collection of suppositions derived from a predetermination brought about by a book of fairy tales. We cannot — must not — allow less-than-sane religious assertions to be placed alongside science and reason in the name political correctness. Giving equal footing to blatant falsehoods spoken in the public square because they are delivered under the guise of religion is not being “tolerant”. It is an asinine, politically correct capitulation to crazy.
However the way to defeat the march back into the sixteenth century (and beyond) is to caricaturize voluntary stupidity for what it is. Although true fundamentalists probably can never be made to understand how a rational mind works, if the forces of reason push back against anti-intellectualism, others will become embarrassed to be a part of what can only be described as a socially regressive movement of crazy people who believe in fairy tales. Before fundamentalists have the opportunity to infect those around them with anti-intellectualism, they must be ridiculed as the bane of society that they are. Political correctness must not protect willful ignorance in the name of religion. For if it is allowed to breed unrestrained — like every fear based ideology– it will flourish in the minds and hearts of the intellectually assailable.
The lack of curiosity that accords magical thinking is an affront to anyone who ever endeavored to make the world a better place through knowledge. Sadly, there is probably no cure for Christian inspired scientific illiteracy. The chances are that those spouting the pseudo-scientific platitudes which disregard the laws of physics, the natural universe, or genetics have already been exposed to the facts. They simply deny them in favor of their psychotic delusion. So they continue to repeat the lies long enough, and loud enough so that others will believe them true. Ignorance loves company.
But anti-intellectualism has gotten to the point where people announce their lack of knowledge proudly. They wear it lack a badge of honor, and shout it to the highest mountaintops. A circular (lack of) logic is employed to undermine scientific truth, and with a cult-like devotion, anti-intellectuals are unable, unwilling, and too fearful to question their fundamentalism.
Where in the past, mentally debilitating cults could easily be written off as socio/politically inconsequential, contemporary, anti-intellectual, cult-like mind numbing is done within the confines of Christianity. As such, it automatically becomes a political force to be reckoned with. So we Americans have an intellectual civil war to fight here at home.
There are truths derived from scientific facts which have been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and which must be acknowledged. Virgins cannot give birth. The earth is approximately four and a half billion years old. Humans have existed as a species for approximately two hundred thousand years, and we share a common genetic ancestry with other primates.
These are self evident truths, facts, and they are undeniable. To allow our political discourse to be influenced otherwise is to base our policy on a lack of sanity. For if we remain too afraid to confront metaphoric perfidy and allow anti-intellectuals an equal voice in the public square … how can Americans ever hope to find real world solutions to complex problems like we had in the past?
When human nature collides with subjectivity, rarely does intellectual honesty override passion. Truthful introspection more often gives way to projection of one’s own irrational fears in others, and denial of the darker parts of who we are. Our cognitive ability to reflect inward is mired in human frailty, and often prevents us from making uncomfortable admissions about ourselves.
Which is to say that bigots rarely recognize themselves as such, rather they’ll internally rationalize their predispositions as something else, and find ways to express themselves thusly.
Where it concerns our brown skinned President and uncomfortable admissions, the new racist tag line goes something like this: “Anyone who disagrees with the Obama is automatically called a racist by liberals.” … or something like that. I’ve heard variations of this a thousand times, and it usually accompanies partisan platitudes, and accusations of anti-Americanism, a love for Islam, or imaginary socialism. It’s a clear deflection of the nature of one’s bias in order to justify becoming selectively appalled at the present administration. So allow me to explain why this ad-hominem premise is not only false, but is also the projection of one’s self in how he or she might form political opinions, and the denial of one’s own bigotry.
As the American cultural topography becomes increasingly darker skinned, the natural reflex against change can reveal itself in ugly ways. When confronted with one’s own bias, rather than cognitively admitting to ourselves that there is a cultural effect at work regarding how certain predispositions might have caused overzealous reactions heretofore never experienced with other presidential administrations, the internal defenses immediately rise. No one wants to admit that their principles are influenced by something unbecoming of a lucid free thinker. And although the intent is often not malicious, that is how fear manifests itself as racism. You mind if we dance wif yo’ dates?
As such, political centrists often find themselves in the unenviable position of defending a president that they would rather not, rather than acquiesce to the sometimes racist, and often irrational criticisms which defy socio/political facts. Centrists often find themselves appearing to lean left (in order to better frame their perspectives in a reasonable manner) in the face of racist ravings. Sometimes, rational political perspectives –which many in the GOP might accord– go unheard because there is little hope of their acumen being understood by such zealous, right leaning lunatics.
For instance, I have taken the president to task many times over policy, capitulation to the will of capital lobbies, and even chided his cavalier attitude over what I perceive to be an abandonment of his base –in very liberal minded company– and I’ve never been called a racist for doing so. Likewise, when I’ve done the same in the company of conservatives, what I often experience is that uncomfortable look over the shoulder that one performs before telling an inappropriate story… before becoming bombarded with racially tainted, mostly inaccurate assaults. What the GOP electorate rarely acknowledge is the nature of their criticisms, and how it rarely concerns policy. Rather its more often personalized –if not downright fallacious– attacks.
Ridiculous Meme’s posted to social media that misrepresent circumstance and disregard truth in favor of racist innuendo are all too common. Like other forms of institutionalized racism, it is more comfortably delivered through anonymity, or a third party. And like when we shout epithets from behind the wheel of a car knowing that we do so removed from accountability, the vitriol is severe. Still, the present day political climate allows for internal reconciliation, and permits otherwise decent republican folks to name call their President and bear false witness under the guise of patriotism.
Which is not to say that there aren’t plenty of things to criticize this, or any President over. That’s part of the job. However it’s instances of selective outrage over things like President Obama’s use of predator drones, or his administration’s handling of the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi… when the prior (Republican) administration had several such attacks which have never garnered the calls for investigation –let alone impeachment– that the Benghazi failure to save lives did. But the disparity of outrage for the same acts committed by the Obama administration as opposed to other administrations, is directly proportional to one’s willful political ignorance. Only honest introspection can determine to what extent racism plays a part in determining the singular direction of one’s own level of angst.
The problem for many is that President Obama represents the cultural change in our national landscape, and thus the malevolence directed at him is more a function of anxiety than it is personal. I get that. It’s often not intentional. Nevertheless, it’s still based in racism.
Which is not to say that everyone who has experienced a negative racial reflex regarding the changing cultural topography is worthy for membership in the Klan. The acumen of one’s life’s experience while formulating these percepts should never be dismissed. However to “double down” on ignorance in the light of actuality, and remain steadfast in bias for no other reason than to find comfort in racist proclivities is an abhorrent social dynamic, that unfortunately, has become more prevalent with the election of President Barak Obama within the Republican voting base. For the GOP to move forward into the twenty first century, it must change that dynamic within their party.
But before they can solve the problem of reflexive racism, they have to recognize that there is a problem.