The greatest transition to maturity in this life is the admission that we don’t know everything.
Sometimes I get into political discussions with conservative people and I am shocked by how quickly the conversation degenerates. We start intelligently talking about an issue, and then I get lost in their sudden deluge of illogical debate, hyperbolic opinion and name-calling resulting in one, predominating thought in my head: “How did we go from the issue to THIS?”
It’s more or less the same type of argument a parent has with a child. You’re wired and conditioned to think logically, to problem-solve, and to use the wisdom of your life to help; but the child has less practice in logical thought and problem-solving, and resorts to emotion when frustrated by a problem.
So in this existential crisis of redundant failure I call my political life, I started to solidify an opinion of my own about the louder, more obnoxious conservative voices I run into. And certainly this analogy does not apply to all Republicans, but it seems to be most pervasive in recent conservative candidates, their pundits and commentary, and sometimes in the Republican platform, in general.
This doesn’t need an insult. It just needs to be true, so we can learn from it and sharpen our debate skills to solve our problems. And it goes like this:
Recently, Republicans have become like children. Stubborn, immature children.
It wasn’t always this way. This hyper-divisive rhethoric, ignorance of fact, outspoken obstructionism, and mind-numbing radical agenda is a fairly recent change by political standards (all of this within the last fifteen years). And, believe me, there are some on the left who exhibit these traits as well.
But the analogy is mostly written subtly in the recently-shifted ideology and style of debate in the Republican Party. It is easy to see in their platform if you look for it. To me, one of the centrally inplied tenets in recent radical conservativism is something akin to the following:
“I have a goose. You don’t have a goose. Stay away from my goose.”
Or: “I don’t have a goose. You have a goose. Kill your goose for me.”
These people, like children, don’t share well. They no longer even want things like health care for everyone; or even easier access to health care, for that matter. They see someone with a union job, who has the ability to democratically negotiate for the parameters of their profession, and they seek to ruin that for them.
“I don’t have a union. You have a union. Kill your union for me.”
And, as immature children do, they resort very often to ignorance of fact and logic in preference to jumping to conclusions and using labels without explanation. When the problem of climate change comes on the table, hardcore conservatives tell you it simply doesn’t exist. When someone discusses Keynesian economics, which calls for short-term government spending on infrastructure to boost a struggling economy, they label that person a “Socialist.”
That’s the mark of an immature, teenage bully.
This leads me to the very juvenile tendency towards logical fallacy. Here is a logical fallacy often implied in recent radical Republican rhetoric when it comes to another faith:
“The terrorists who committed the crimes on 9/11 were Muslims. Therefore, all Muslims are terrorists.”
Of course, this is false, and there are millions of Muslims all over the world who have no interest in committing an act of terrorism. And, even if you were somehow unable (and, dare I say, racist enough) to believe that millions of Muslims have no interest in terrorism, know this: it only takes one Muslim who has no interest in terrorism to prove that statement a logical fallacy (because it says “all”). Yet you hear this racially-charged logical fallacy implied whenever someone (incorrectly) refers to Obama as a Muslim, or if the issue of building a mosque near Ground Zero comes up.
Likewise, Republicans, like children, have a hard time with empathy. If you’ve ever dealt with a child, you’ve had to teach them about things like sharing, and to be cautious of judging someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Atticus Finch stuff. You impart your wisdom on them until they grow, and mature, and hopefully grow up to be a member of society capable of working well with others despite differences.
But the Republicans, instead, splinter Americans against one another. You hear it in Santorum’s speeches equating homosexuality with beastiality, and Gingrich referencing African Americans “demanding food stamps.” It shows up when Herman Cain says, “If you’re not rich, blame yourself.” You get a sense of it when Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says Obama is “pro-poverty.”
Let me be clear about something: Whoever you think you are-- Republican or Democrat, Independent or Undecided-- if you think anyone in the nation, at all, is PRO-POVERTY, you should do yourself a favor and institutionalize yourself. Because your ability to mindlessly believe what other people say has grossly outdistanced your ability to think and interact with the rest of humanity. You are, in fact, past the point of immaturity, and very literally near becoming a sociopath.
I am not a Democrat. But, looking objectively as possible, I can’t find the volume of evidence to back up such an analogy to immaturity in their party. Only one party has a near-monopoly on this divisive rhetoric and ideology. Only one party has shifted so radically recently to elicit these traits. And I encourage you to objectively apply this analogy when you watch radical Republicans talk about the issues:
They are stubborn, immature children.
It doesn’t need to be an insult. It just needs to be true. And we need to ignore those voices so we can use our maturity, our logic and our wisdom from all parties to solve our very real problems.
We need the adults in the room to step forward.
And I might be wrong about all this, but don’t call me an “elitist” for bringing it up.