(graphic via Brian Kane)
Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us…. [I]t’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.
I’m not going to over-generalize and posit the supposition that Republicans are stupid. Some are, I suppose, in the same way that some Democrats are a bit dim. Stupidity, at least in my mind, isn’t necessarily the issue (nor does it respect party lines); the issue is intellectual incuriosity (and a grip on reality), the complete lack of desire to know and/or understand how the world around us works. Hey, when you can reduce complex systems and ideas to a series of talking points based on ideologically-driven propaganda, who needs to strain your brain by thinking?
Jon Huntsman shouldn’t be remarkable for his recognition that science is a good thing. The idea that there’s something wrong with immutable empirical truth is as silly as it is anti-intellectual…and yet that’s where our Teapublican brethren find themselves these days. It’s like when you were in school and you beat up on the smart kids because you hated for not “fitting in”. The truth is that you were secretly jealous of them because they were “different”- they were smart and you weren’t. The GOP’s collective war against knowledge is a lot like that, because an entire party has decided that they don’t want a “brainiac” as their standard-bearer in 2012. They’d rather beat up on the “smart kids” because their vacant, bankrupt ideology simply doesn’t allow for recognition of any empirical truth that doesn’t fit their pre-approved narrative.
I know I make frequent references to Idiocracy, but this blurb from IMDB really does describe the world that Republicans would happily see us living in:
Private Joe Bauers, the definition of “average American”, is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes 500 years in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he’s easily the most intelligent person alive.
The difference, of course, is that we’re not 500 years in the future…and it’s not a movie. This is happening today, in real time, and there are those on the Right who would happily see us living in a dumbed-down world, because that would make it easier for them to rule the world. That politicians who would claim the mantle of leadership of the most powerful nation in the world seem to be legion on the Right is something that should scare the Hell out of any thinking, rational person…few of whom can evidently be found on the Right…at least among Republican primary voters
This is particularly true when it comes to the issue of global climate change. The official Teapublican line is that global climate change is a hoax, for the simple reason that it’s a theory supported by science…and, as any red-blooded patriotic American knows, science can be wrong and it goes against God’s word. There’s lack of knowledge and then there’s rampant, aggressive ignorance that knows and respects no bounds. Such is the state of GOP politics these days…and yet any candidate who wants to win their party’s nomination knows they need to parrot the ignorant, brain-dead party line.
According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates….
And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.
Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?
Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.
It certainly is a terrifying prospect…and yet that’s exactly what Republican voters will be served come 2012- a candidate who accepts and embraces anti-intellectualism and denial of the validity of science. A candidate who’s afraid to be thought of as one of the “smart kids,” because he knows that will cost him votes, and quite probably the GOP nomination.