“Oh…….Sweet Jesus”- Joe Scarborough
So last night was the last presidential debate and all of us are a bit tired of politics at the moment, even political geeks like me. Also, considering the fact I live in Ohio, Ohio, Ohio, (if you live anywhere else, multiply your ads by ten) the most salivated over state in the nation……..well, I’m wanting this over! But, never the less, I had to read this book.
Why? Because, like you may have experienced yourself, I have been through some mind boggling conversations with those on the tea party extremes of today’s Republican Party. The absolute denial of facts as they are pointed out to them confounds me. When I read the title of this book I thought, “yes! Finally an explanation.”
An example of a conversation with an extreme teaparty type Republican, let’s call him Skeeter.
“Hey there Skeeter, what’cha watching?”
“I’m watching a story on Obama. It’s really scary! Did you know that he’s a secret Muslim, Kenyon, Socialist, Communist, Nazi with a crazy Christian pastor? And that he has a plan to destroy America from within and a plan on world domination? He’s going to take away our guns AND force women to have abortions when they don’t even need them AND he’s going to force a government takeover of health care with DEATH PANELS!” pant, pant, pant. “He shouldn’t even be president……he’s foreign!! Plus I heard he’s GAY!”
“Wow Skeeter, that is scary….I guess, but the good news is that all of that is false.”
“Huh? No, it has to be true; they said it on the TV machine.”
“Well, for starters you can’t be Muslim and have a crazy Christian pastor. His religion should not be a factor anyway. He’s not from Kenya, he was born in Hawaii. You can’t be a Socialist, a Communist, and a Nazi because they are a completely different ideology from each other. He’s not trying to destroy America, just the opposite, I’m not so sure about the current Republican party though. He doesn’t want to rule the world, this country is fucked up enough he doesn’t have the time to rule the rest of the planet. He hasn’t tried to take your guns in the last four years. How do you force non-pregnant women to abort a non-existent pregnancy? Health care needs reforming and there are no death panels. Have you seen Michelle? He’s not gay……not that that would matter.”
“But how do you know for sure Stephanie? Like, how do you know he wasn’t born in Kenya?”
“He has a birth certificate that he has released from the state of Hawaii, here it is online. If that’s not enough proof for you, here’s a copy of the birth announcement dated in 1961 printed in a Hawaiian newspaper.”
“That don’t prove nuthin’ Stephanie.”
“Uh…..yes it does.”
“Nope. He probably has a time machine and he took it back to 1961 to plant the birth certificate and the article so he could become president to destroy America!”
“Skeeter, that’s insane.”
This conversation could go on forever. Chris Mooney calls this motivated reasoning. When you believe something as strongly as Skeeter does it becomes almost physical in the brain and nothing short of surgery can remove this belief. Think about the cults who predict the end of the world, it never happens, yet these people are so invested in this belief that they always come up with a new date, rather than admit to themselves they made a mistake. Skeeter is extreme, a closed minded authoritarian according to the author. Not all Republicans are this extreme, but they are most certainly closed minded by definition. That’s how they can stick by a candidate no matter how bad they turn out to be. They are a loyal crowd, for better or for worse.
Now for the opposite person, the extreme liberal, let’s call him Kyle.
“Hi Kyle. What’cha reading?”
“Oh hi, a blog about how Obama hasn’t done EVERYTHING I wanted him to do in the last four years, so I’m going to vote for the Green candidate in protest.”
“But that’s just throwing your vote away Kyle! You know that the president is your best bet to get what you want; Romney will do nothing for you. Protest? I don’t think the president will be thinking about how he failed you…….”What? We lost Kyle? What could we have done? Maybe if we would have got him a unicorn that farts glitter…….”
“A glitter-farting unicorn would buy my vote, I admit…….but come on Stephanie, he didn’t magically fix everything in four years like he promised he would. I’m very disappointed. Plus his performance in the first debate was horrible.”
“He didn’t promise that, he said the road would be long and he would need our help, that he couldn’t do it alone. Besides, I didn’t think the debate was all that bad. You fought for him in 2008, made phone calls and went knocking on doors. You loved him, now you turn on him? ”
The problem with the extreme liberal is that, like all liberals, they are open minded. Except more so. They will change their mind on a dime. New information will send them off flailing their arms in a new direction. Think Chris Mathews after the first debate. It didn’t go as well as Chris had hoped so he went mental. Pretty much declaring it a tragedy in all out panic, I yelled “you’re not helping Chris!” at the tv that night.
To sum it up, if you put facts in front of a liberal with a strong belief, that disproves his belief, he will change his mind most of the time. Try the same thing with a teaparty type, and you will find him to stick to his guns come hell or high-water……or facts.
Do I understand Republicans any better now that I read this book? Um….not really, I’m not sure that’s possible. But, by all means read the book. It’s very interesting.