Thursday, November 08, 2012

The true failing of liberals

It is time for us to concede that we have been complicit in the problems that we face. It is time for us to own our respective roles in the ignorance that we mock and at times despair over. It is time for us to take responsibility for the edification of those around us.

I have, like many others, expended a good amount of energy deriving pleasure from the intellectual vaccuum that I witness on the conservative side of the political spectrum. I have creased my face with the grins of schadenfreude and the guffaws of superiority. I can be found, on any given day, to shake my head in open wonder at the profound absurdity of the modern electorate.

This, however, was a feast too great even for my appetite. The only thing I'm left with now is fremdschämen. My embarrassment for these people and their emotional reaction to what is objectively the best possible outcome leaves me empty. After gorging on the wailing and gnashing teeth of ignorant conservatives for the last few days I can only, now, feel pity. Pity, and remorse for my role.

There are two different things that people must invariably address when entering a debate regarding political ideology. The problems, and the possible solutions. One can only realistically be expected to propose meaningful solutions if they have had the opportunity to rationally observe the problem(s). One can only rationally observe a problem if they have both understanding of the problem space, as well as the capacity to analytically approach the elements behind it and the consequences of changes to them. The people shown in the images on the page linked above, are missing one or more of these key components. They either lack the knowledge of the problem space, or they lack the capacity to analyze consequences.

Politics is said to be a contact sport. Like in any contact sport there are winners and losers. Would you laugh at the losing team if they were handicapped? Would you mock their crying fans? This is what we all need to understand. These people have legitimate difficulties either due to lack of proper data, or lack of capacity to absorb said data. They are intellectually handicapped as regards this countries real issues.

I've had enough debates with conservatives regarding macroeconomics to know that you're extremely unlikely to change their minds regardless of the wealth of evidence you may provide. This should not dissuade us from trying. This should not encourage us to give up and become petty.

It's heart-breaking and exhausting at times to beat your proverbial head against a seemingly stone wall of ignorance, but we're the only ones who can. We most likely each know someone like this, someone who could have very well ended up in that album of shame. Let us make the effort to help them. Let's, each of us, choose at least one person to try to inform them of where their beliefs differ from reality.

One might say that this comes off as 'A Modest Proposal'. I'm not suggesting that conservatives, once properly 'educated' will fall in line and agree with specific policy. They may still very well feel that while the Affordable Health Care Act is both legitimately within the power of Congress and has been projected to lower both government expense as well as the cost of health care, that it's not the right path. They may still feel that even though lowering taxes for the wealthiest people has no observable effect on private investment, let alone general economic growth, that it's still the right thing to do. So long as they hold those beliefs based on at least a basic understanding of the consequences of their beliefs.

Rachael Maddow, I feel, said it very well.

Ohio really did go to the president last night.
And he really did win.
And he really was born in Hawaii.
And he really is -legitimately- President of the United States. Again.
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make-up a fake unemployment rate last month.
And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence
that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy.
And the polls were not skewed to over-sample Democrats.
And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad.
He was doing math.
And climate change is real.
And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes.
And evolution is a thing.
And Benghazi was an attack on us. It was not a scandal by us.
And no one is taking away anyone's guns.
And taxes haven't gone up.
And the deficit is dropping, actually.
And Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction.
And the moon landing was real.
And FEMA isn't building concentration camps.
And UN election observers aren't taking over Texas.
And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry are not the same thing as communism.


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