EDITORIAL: Narrow political minds
06.26.12 | The Charleston Gazette
June 26–CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Dick Polman wrote that Republicans in Congress deliberately block federal job-creating plans to worsen the U.S. economy and damage President Obama’s chance for reelection.
That’s one view of political rigidity. Here’s another:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a pillar of the Republican Party, says narrow Tea Party thinking makes the GOP inflexible. During a Manhattan news conference, Bush said his former-president father and President Ronald Reagan “would have had a hard time” in today’s Washington “if you define the Republican Party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”
Bush said his father and Reagan “got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support that right now would be difficult to imagine happening.” He blamed the political hostility on both major national parties.
However, some new books chiefly blame the GOP for the hateful impasse that thwarts cooperation and progress in Washington. One such volume is The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science — and Reality, by science writer Chris Mooney.
“From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more,” the book says. “…Republicans reject the widely accepted findings of mainstream science, economics and history — as well as many undeniable policy facts (e.g. there were no ‘death panels’ in the health care bill.”
The book says conservatives tend to be more dogmatic, needing absolute answers, fearing uncertainty — while liberals vacillate, wavering on issues, more willing to live with unclear facts. That’s why the right-wing Tea Party can mobilize unified power, but the left-wing Occupy movement is erratic and scattered.
“There’s a reason why the Tea Party got itself elected in under two years, while Occupy Wall Street is kinda all over the place,” Mooney wrote. But he said researchers found that “not only were Tea Party members the most factually incorrect, but they were also the most overconfident and close-minded.”
Former Rep. Barney Frank said sardonically that the Democratic Party’s slogan should be: “We’re not perfect, but they’re nuts.”
Right-wing misinformation is repeated endlessly on conservative talk radio and Fox News, the book says. For many Americans, this is their only source of political knowledge. Of course, there’s cult-like thinking at both extremes of America’s political spectrum.
The Political Scene program says former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pioneered the new polarizing mood of “willingness — even eagerness — to use every tactic short of law-breaking to demonize the opponent on the way to winning power.”
Spreading misinformation — or deliberately blocking jobs — are ugly topics in today’s brutal politics.