The Insular Mind

I am bothered by what the Republican Party has become. If this were the party of Barry Goldwater, I would be a Republican, but something has happened. The 21% of Americans who are self-identified Republicans have become “true-believer” Republicans. They have crafted a world that no one but they can see. The rules are self-defining and closed to creative thought or logical thinking.

If there is a news article that refutes what they are saying, it’s because the liberal “mainstream media” won’t report on the real state of things. However, the “mainstream media” is never defined. I would consider Fox News mainstream media, albeit with serious credibility problems. The Wall Street Journal is the financial publication of record for America. They are owned by News Corporation – the same company that owns Fox News. They are hardly liberal by any stretch of the imagination. Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter and special assistant to Ronald Reagan and current columnist for the Wall Street Journal, even referred to the “mainstream media” in her op-ed in the Wall Street Journal[1]. I often disagree with Noonan, but she is an intelligent, well spoken Republican conservative, who seems to have accepted that her employer’s own publication is out of the mainstream.

We see Americans, such as the teabaggers, shouting that they want their America back. Back from whom? Bill Maher asked that question on the August 8, 2009 episode of Real Time and he never got a coherent answer from his two Republican guests. Nothing of substance has changed under the Obama Administration. The ill-conceived tax cuts of the Bush Administration will be allowed to expire, but they haven’t yet. There is an attempt to fix a clearly broken health care system, but that hasn’t happened yet. What are they angry at? I don’t think they know, but there is an evident persecution complex in their words.

And how about that health care? At a town hall, President Obama mentioned, “I got a letter the other day from a woman. She said, ‘I don’t want government-run health care. I don’t want socialized medicine. And don’t touch my Medicare.'”[2] A similar thing happened to Republican Congressman Robert Inglis. Someone reportedly told Inglis, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare. I had to politely explain that, ‘Actually, sir, your health care is being provided by the government,'” Inglis told the Post. “But he wasn’t having any of it.”

It’s this true-believer mindset that accepts the notion that health care reform is bad simply because it it socialist with no additional analysis. The “debate” gets into full crazy mode with Sarah Palin‘s Facebook entry[4]:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

It is so incredulous that there would be a “death panel” in the legislation, that she must be mentally ill, or just a bald-faced liar, right? No. She is simply a true-believer.

Speaking of socialism, how many people have actually looked it up in the dictionary? Damn few, if you look at the use of the term [5] by Republicans. Even after you understand what socialism is, the argument still has to be made as to why it would be so bad for some aspect of healthcare to be socialized. I was pondering against socialism on a mailing list and a friend from Sweden asked me, “What exactly are you afraid of?” I had no immediate answer to that simple question.

We have seen this sort of insular, self-defining world before. It looks a lot like a fundamentalist religion – be it Christianity, Muslim or any other. What is true and false, good and evil, right and wrong, is self-defined.  There are no shades-of-grey. Disagreements are dismissed instead of analyzed and debated. “Truth” is accepted on faith. Not only have the precepts of fundamentalist Christianity become the planks of the Republican Party, but it has become the mindset has as well.

Of course, the liberals have their whacky camp, too. There is PeTA, the “9/11 Truthers”, the “all corporations are evil and should be abolished” crowd. In contrast to conservatives, liberals like Bill Maher threated to “kick their ass” when the “truthers” tried to disrupt his show. Democratic politicians typically ignore the lunatic fringe – except when pandering during the primary election season, of course. When it comes to policy, there is plenty of room for disagreement as evidenced by the Blue Dog Democrats stance on health care. That’s the way it should be.

If the Republicans are going to reach beyond the 21% true-believers, they better find a leader other than Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Michael Steele. They better find one who is a real conservative, but intelligent and articulate. They are out there, but they are silent on the entropy within their party. I wonder if Joe Scarborough or Peggy Noonan has what it takes to lead Republicans out of the wilderness.

References:

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124716984620819351.html

[2] http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/2009/07/obama-pokes-fun-at-dont-touch-my-medicare-people.php

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/get-your-goddamn-governme_b_252326.html

[4] http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/08/sarah-palin-has-weighed-in-on/

[5] https://politicalmoderation.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/socialism/

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