Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Right-In-Laws

I’m not sure why it suddenly feels this way now, as opposed to – I don’t know, earlier decades of Limbaugh-mania, but I’m really having trouble taking anyone on the right seriously anymore. I used to watch the Sunday shows, and read the occasional interesting conservative. But it’s gotten to the point where the crazy is so blatant, it’s just not worth my time.

Is it that the Democrats finally scored a big win? Or that I’m really happy to have someone not just competent but seemingly very smart and good in the white house? That it’s just the complacency of victory?
Or is it that the right has long since stopped being serious? This is the attitude we take with batshittery in general. We don’t debate with creationists. Or 9-11 conspiracists. Or white supremacists. What would be the point. Objective reality has no effect on them.

So how different are the endless cries of socialism, global warming denialism, or my personal favorite – “they’re taking away our liberty!”? And this isn’t some small group of activists with an inflated media presence. This is the top media punditry. This is members of congress shouting slogans from the balcony of congress. This is the former Republican vice presidential running mate more popular (on the right) than the head of the ticket (who by the way faces stiff competition in his own district because he’s too moderate).

One can imagine all sorts of reasons for why the right has gotten here. In fact, this is often what the left is forced to do: instead of debating policy on the merits (which is impossible), we resort to psychology in an attempt to decipher the reasons why otherwise sane individuals might be drawn to such demonstrably wrong and illogical beliefs.

And I’m no psychologist. It’s like one long visit by your neurotic mother-in-law where you realize that the time spent trying to understand her not only prolongs the suffering, but is pointless because no good will ever come of it. And yet your mother-in-law eventually leaves. Not only are these people not leaving, but they have the power to dramatically alter the country.

I suppose at this point we’re just hoping the further they burrow into the crazy cave, the less political legitimacy they’ll enjoy. But Mencken’s insight into the American mind reminds us that we ought not take too much refuge in the capacity of our fellow citizens to reason.

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