Home > politics, rhetoric > Primary voters vs. reason and reality

Primary voters vs. reason and reality

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

As a utilitarian blog, we’re all about happiness. Last night’s election results certainly made a lot of people happy. The Palin crowd was happy to get a few more primary wins, and partisan Democrats were happy that some of those general elections are now more likely to go blue in November.

But frankly, we’re not all that happy. We’re with WaPo columnist Ruth Marcus, who sees a scary side to these results.

In some respects, none of this is new. The American two-party system demands that candidates perform a slalom — out to the fringe in the primary, back to the center for the general election.

With yesterday’s results, though, we’re seeing the continuing trend of dumping out qualified politicians who offer anything other than knee-jerk opposition to … well, pretty much everything.

And the scariest part is that this group gleefully reinvents reality and preys on fear, as Esquire’s blog points out:

Maybe these folks are “happy” in the sense that they have a lot of camaraderie as they fight the imaginary demons of socialism. But it’s hard to imagine that their tactics would fit with the utilitarian ideal of greatest happiness for as many as possible. They seem quite intent on making those with whom they disagree as miserable as possible, going far beyond the political world to trash cherished institutions:

1. Intellectualism. Denying climate change and evolution are en vogue.

2. Tolerance. See how the argument over the Islamic center a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center site — erroneously called the “Ground Zero mosque” — evolves into lunacy.

3. Compassion. It’s one thing to argue that the government should back off and let Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” (though this concept has been overstated by mythmakers) bring us back to recovery. It’s another thing entirely to forget why Obama (and Bush) felt the need to ramp up government spending. They were trying to help. But in the eyes of D’Souza and company, their *goal* is to destroy America.

This is, quite simply, blind hate as a means to a political end. And that should make none of us happy.

The good news is that it’s easy to overstate the haters’ numbers. The truth is that not many people watch cable news. Not many voted in these primaries. And movements like the Tea Party include considerable numbers of reasonable people who would gladly shed their cohorts’ rhetoric if they could. We all know people who say they think Obama has overspent while distancing themselves from Glenn Beck.

But the hateful rhetoric has to be opposed somehow. And that’s something we’re going to explore in future posts.

Addendum: Some hateful conspiracy theories, of course, don’t fit today’s right-wing agenda. One that springs to mind is the concept that AIDS is some sort of government program against black people. These theories don’t draw as much press but must also be confronted from time to time.

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Categories: politics, rhetoric
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