The Problem with Republican Voters


The problem with Republican voters, you ask? Without trying to issue a blanket condemnation since obviously every Republican voter isn’t the same, the problem seems to be, in a word, that they are ill-informed. Worse, this ignorance seems to be a self-imposed state. Republicans, after all, have the same access to information possessed by liberals but they apparently make little or no use of it.

They satisfy themselves instead with their talking points, taking their cues from pundits like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, or any one of a myriad of FOX News personalities, or, more and more frequently, one of the near-ubiquitous leaders on the Christian Right. The conservative knowledge base seems to be defined by sound-bites, neat little 140-character answers to every issue and problem. Since these are conveniently issued from on high in the manner of user’s manuals, there is no need for voters to look anything up themselves.

Nor do they seem to be inclined to question what they hear, see, or read. Interview Republicans and you will get the same general answers and from the same sources. You will hear the above-mentioned names, or the Drudge Report or some similar source. You will see a lot of scare-mails going around as well, either making up new lies to scare the base or retreading old ones, some of which we have covered here. No matter how many times a Democrat fails to take the guns from the good old boys, you can count on it being repeated each campaign and the base being duly riled.


Einstein said the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result and the GOP knows what works and sticks to it. This isn’t Karl Rove’s first rodeo, after all. Give the man credit: he knows how to dumb it down to the level of the audience.

I wanted to share with you a representative conversation I had with a Republican the other day, which went on for about three hours and covered a wide range of topics. I have chosen three topics out of all those discussed:

The Mythical Fiscal Conservatism of Sarah Palin. GOPer: “I like Sarah Palin. I liked the things she said; she had a lot of good ideas. At least she wouldn’t take all that government money. She stopped that Bridge to Nowhere.”

Me: No, she did not have a lot of good ideas. Yes she did take that government money you say she refused, hand over fist. And no, she did not really stop the Bridge to Nowhere, she is simply the one who accepted its defeat. Look at the facts, if you will:

  • With regards to federal money, no governor liked it more than Sarah Palin, and that’s indisputable fact. The Washington Post points out that “According to the latest 2008 ranking, every Alaskan received $555 in pork over the last year, compared to $25 for every inhabitant of Illinois and $15 for every Arizonan.” Put another way, “records cited by the Associated Press show that she has requested $750 million in federal subsidies during her two years as governor, the largest per-capita request in the nation.”
  • Sarah Palin only abandoned the “Bridge to Nowhere” when it was obvious from Congressional attitudes toward the project that it was effectively dead. She did not champion killing the project or cause it to be killed. As the Washington Post says, she supported the project in 2006 before signing its “death warrant” in 2007: “In answers to a written questionnaire from the Anchorage Daily News, she said that the time to build the bridge was ‘now–while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.’”

Sharron Angle’s “Rape Lemonade”. “Sharron Angle had a lot of good ideas. GOPer: “And her comments about rape were right on. Most of these women who get raped had it coming to them. They get all dressed up and come on to the guy. A woman who gets drunk and goes back to his place has to expect to get raped.”

Me: There is obviously a great deal more wrong with this sentiment than getting the facts wrong about Sharron Angle but where even to begin? First of all, most women who are raped are not women who are out partying and getting drunk and putting themselves in harm’s way (which still does not excuse rape, by the way). Again, let’s look at some facts about rape:

  • According to the Census Bureau there were 81,280 total reported rapes in 2009 (U.S. Department of Justice statistics say that in 2009, “victims ages 12 or older experienced a total of 125,910 rapes or sexual assaults”) and it’s important to remember that little detail, “reported” but most rapes go unreported (anywhere from 40-60 percent of the victims don’t tell anybody). According to these official statistics, that’s 52 rape out of every 100,000 females. The terrible reality of rape is that somewhere in America a woman is raped every two minutes. Every two minutes.
  • Far from 52 rapes out of every 100,000 females, one out of every four women are victims of rape or attempted rape and a staggering 84 percent of those women knew their attackers and over half of them happened while on a date.  With regards to date rapes, just over half the women had been drinking or taking drugs before the attack. Three-quarters of the men, on the other hand, had been drinking or using drugs. Yet you won’t hear that statistic from the woefully uninformed Republican.
  • You will not be told by Republicans that 38 percent of those sexual assault victims are between the ages of 14 and 17, or that some 15 percent of rape victims are actually under 12, or that a staggering 34 percent (one-third!) of the attackers are family members. According to the National Crime and Victimization Survey, 6.1 percent of children and youth from birth to 17 years of age experienced a sexual victimization. During 2008, 9 percent were sexually abused were sexually abused, including rape and according to the same survey, “Ten percent of children have experienced some form of sexual violence (sexual assault, rape, harassment, or lashing) during their lifetime.” Hard to imagine those kids were drunk. But they should make their rape lemonade, yessir.
  • Here are some detailed statisticswith regards rape on college campuses:
    • An estimated 12 percent of women attending American colleges have been raped, and 12 percent of rapes of college women were reported to law enforcement.
    • Fourteen percent of undergraduate women were victims of at least one completed sexual assault since entering college; five percent were victims of forced sexual assault, and eight percent were sexually assaulted while they were incapacitated due to voluntary use of alcohol or drugs.
    • Only eight percent incapacities due to voluntary use of alcohol or drugs – pretty far from “most” and being drunk does not excuse rape.
    • And we haven’t even begun to dress the rapes committed by husbands and boyfriends. According to Pandora’s Project, a 1985 study shows 10 to 14 percent of married women “have been or will be raped by their spouses.”

When I corrected him with regards to Angle’s rape comment, that it was directed not only at women who he claimed “had it coming” but all women who are raped, he said, “Oh, I don’t know nothin’ about that.” The only possible answer to this is, “No, you don’t, do you? Nothing at all. And that’s the problem.”

Sean Hannity.  GOPer: “Sean Hannity is the best source of information on what’s going on in politics.”

Me: It’s difficult to not simply laugh in response to statements like this. We have covered the hyper-hypocritical Hannity in these pages many times. The one thing you can count on Hannity doing is accusing Democrats of something Republicans are doing or have already done, in most cases, many times. The other think you can count on is that he is just plain dishonest.  As a source of information, it is difficult to think of anyone who has less value. But the claim encapsulates in a nutshell the basic problem with the Republican knowledge base.

There was also a comment that religion is “dead” to both parties, to which I could only answer with a blink. I was speechless. And you can only wonder how a voter manages to stay so ill-informed as to not see the linkage between the Christian Right and the Republican Party. But sadly, there was no time to get into this, because I would love to have had his reaction to things like Newt Gingrich’s plan to begin his administration with the creation, through Executive Order, of a Presidential Commission on Religious Freedom in the United States.

What is surprising is that the conversation began like this: “I suppose since you’re a liberal you don’t pay much attention to what’s going on with Republican Party.” The implication is, of course, that the speaker does. And clearly, my hopes in that regard were dashed to the ground within minutes.

You have to wonder how much of what they say and how they vote is based on ignorance, and how much of a difference actual facts would make. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but based on conversations I’ve had with more reasonable Republicans (even Evangelicals), it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that if at least some Republicans would just think enough about what they were hearing to investigate it, they would not support the policies they so currently so violently defend. But here the old biblical “pearls before swine” thing comes into play – you can’t force-feed people information they do not want. You can put it before them, but you can’t make them read, listen, look, or think. And the information is already out there, making relevant the question, “Just how much actual use is education?” in general terms. It is often presented as the thing most needed to correct injustices, but as I have tried to argue here, there is good reason to think most of it is falling on deaf ears.

51 Replies to “The Problem with Republican Voters”

  1. I need to check my research, but I think it was Sean Hannity that finally caused me to create two special “tags” while doing analysis of reporting during the Jena 6 situation – everything the person said was so bigoted, racist, and the inverse of what the official documents (including statements from witnesses, testimony, etc.) revealed. Those tags were “Deliberate Deception” and “racist bigotry”.

    Fox and the Washington Times both ended up with those tags because of the bias (racist bigoted) aspect of their “reporting”. (I found even the best Mainstream source – NPR, to have many errors. Only the “socialist/communist” sites set up to support the Jena Six really came close to the truth!!!)

    Their “sources” feed their stereotypes and manipulate their emotions (remember the research about how supporting their stereotypes gives people positive reinforcement)… the way the Republicans maintain control over their followers. They don’t see the brainwashing and manipulation. That’s why they believe lies and ignore facts/documentation – it doesn’t give them the emotional “High” their handlers do.

  2. It really illustrates the Brock University study that points out that less intelligent people tend to embrace conservatism and it also very clearly reinforces the Dunning-Kruger effect, that presents the idea that uneducated and uninformed people double down on the stupid.

  3. What has been described in this article is willful ignorance, which does not accept any facts that don’t conform to their regressive ideology. As always, Hraf, you have nailed it exactly. As you mentioned, they have exactly the same access to information we do, but they are more comfortable remaining in their self-imposed bubbles of ignorance. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reason with a RWNJ who calls the president a Commie, Socialist, Muslim Kenyan in one sentence.

  4. “Einstein said the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result and the GOP knows what works and sticks to it. This isn’t Karl Rove’s first rodeo, after all. Give the man credit: he knows how to dumb it down to the level of the audience.”

    This is how I see it… smile :-)

  5. Hrafnkell, I’ve had similar conversations with Republican acquaintances but could never quite manage three hours. I applaud you for your stamina!

    I’m reminded of a couple of old sayings: “there are none so blind as those who will not see,” and “in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.” Nowadays, I find myself thinking that in the land of those who will not see, the one-eyed man is persecuted as a witch.

    I don’t know if there’s truly a correlation to IQ as the recent study suggests, but it may very well be a characteristic that is hardwired into the brains of many conservatives; that is, the tendency to believe what one believes, rather than what all credible evidence suggests. The rise of the Limbaugh/Fox News/et al echo chamber is just amplifying the endless loop of stupid thoughts confirmed by stupid people. Breaking that cycle and inserting rational thoughts into any dialogue is damn near impossible.

    It’s been said that most of what we call “rational thinking” consists of coming up with rationalizations for continuing to believe what we already believe. If our “facts” (true or not) tend to support our most cherished beliefs, we won’t give them up without a fight. If someone knows they’re right for all the right reasons, and that others are wrong for all the wrong reasons, proving them wrong not only doesn’t change their minds, it strengthens their convictions and increases their mistrust. If you hold up a mirror to them so they see their own lunacy, they’ll just curse you and your damnable magic mirror.

    Or as the other old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” You can try, but you’re gonna get wet!

  6. Most republicans I know tend to limit their sources of information almost exclusively to sources like Fox, WSJ and Drudge. Bad enough, but what’s worse is how these individuals tend to treat any contradictory information, from any other source, as suspect. No matter how credible, information that doesn’t come from Fox (primarily) is just rejected without any consideration.

  7. Or, to cop a new saying: You can lead a Fox fan to accurate information, but you can’t make him think.

  8. Sean Hannity is beyond the worst liar in the universe. Glenn Beck makes stuff up that is mostly silly, but sean lies constantly and naturally.And even better, when shown his lies he never backtracks or acknowledges them. No one lies better than Sean unless it was the Pathological Liar Jon Lovitz. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Some of the stuff I see on twitter and Digg are like bombshells going off in America, intense stupidity. A total lack of decent information. Especially on Sarah Palin, my god those people are completely led around by the nose

  9. I’ve just spent a week checking out various conservative sites, like “Human Events” and “American Thinker” (winner of Most Inaccurately Named Website Award). It’s WAY worse than you described. The level of stupidity and misinformation was unreal. Many posters can’t even form a sentence, most writing at the level of a 2nd grader (no offense to 2nd-graders…) Lots of name-calling – most misspell the president’s name, often intentionally, which is somehow supposed to be an insult to him, rather than a reflection of the childishness and stupidity of the writer. Some are so detached from reality, it’s disturbing. If these people are representative of the typical gop voter, we’ve got nothing to worry about.

  10. You’re using a technique called a “straw-man” to create imaginary evidence to prova a point. The straw man makes absurd statements that are easy to prove wrong, and will hopefully give you credibility for contradicting them. Unfortunately, this straw man is known only to you, and may or may not really exist. And unless his views are identical to the Republican party platform, how does it prove anything?

    There are many real criticisms you could make of the Republican party, and they ought to be called on it. Do some research, for goodness’ sake. Maybe learning a few things will be good for you. For instance, there are no real differences between the Republican and Democrat parties. Look past the propaganda.

  11. Ruby: That’s funny you mention propaganda because you just fell for it.

    We are not the same.

    Mitt Romney said it best. He doesn’t really care about the poor.
    I don’t see any Democratic policies that purposely undermine groups that help the poor. You see it all the time with the Republicans.

    Planned Parenthood and ACORN. They hate these groups. HATE.

    Have you been watching the GOP war on voting.

    Columnist: September 1, 2011
    Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American

    Read more:

    Republicans go around defending the richest of the rich but teachers, fireman and anyone who works for the public makes too much money.

    Except when they do it.

  12. Not unlike Dorothy Parker’s noted line, “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.”

  13. Whenever I hear the ” republicans/ democrats ” are the same speil , I want to punch that person in the face. As a Canadian we see very clearly that the republicans are absolutely horrible .

  14. Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain addresses this. Irrational belief comes first, then rationalizations second.

    Republicans don’t want to be informed. They merely want to be validated in their prejudices.

    It was Einstein, right, who identified “common sense” as merely a collection of prejudices acquired by age 18?

  15. And again we hear the old “they are the same” offered without any evidence to prove it. They are not the same – not by a long shot. Neither party is perfect, no, but that’s a long way from them being identical in outlook and in policy-decisions. We have done plenty of research here, Ruby Lee. Feel free to partake.

  16. NO NO NO!!!!!! It has NOTHING to do with being ill informed. I wish to Christ we would stop spreading this meme. Conservatives DO have the same access to the SAME information. They KNOW what the truth is. But this isn’t about TRUTH. They CHOOSE their information that reinforces already deeply held beliefs in bigotry, discrimination, greed and hate. Their information outlets are not about acquiring INFORMATION. They are about WIELDING POWER to get the kind of society they want. It’s a propaganda campaign the likes of which Goebbels only could have dreamed of – Fox News, talk radio, et. al. Sure, part of it is brainwashing. But the overwhelming choices made in people accessing right wing media outlets and their messages is to use as weapons for political action and reinforce their already cherished beliefs. Period. It isn’t ‘news’ it isn’t ‘journalism’ it’s WAR.

  17. Living in the most conservative county in Wisconsin a small group of progressives have discussed many issues and worked behind the scenes on a number of elections. During one of these, we came up with pages of facts that no one could dispute. But we knew that in our county, that will not work because getting many people to listen to facts if difficult since they want quick bullet points to satisfy their way of thinking. We worked on trying to dumb down the facts in order to get some of them read. Did it work,to some degree but getting all of the facts known did not happen and there is no long term change in attitudes.

  18. On certain issues, the actions of elected Republicans and Democrats are indistinguishable from each other.

    SOPA & PIPA. NDAA. The Enemy Expatriation Act. Iraq. The continued prosecution of a failed “war on drugs” that does nothing but inject more and more innocent people – a disproportionately number of them black and Hispanic – into a prison
    system that is corrupt, unjust, and a proud funnel of lobbying money to both parties. Speaking of lobbying and corruption, the state of campaign finance is an atrocity and is due to actions and inaction of both parties and their unbridled love and compassion for the wealthy.

    That said, there are significant differences. Many – not all – Democrats are supportive of social services for the poor & infirm. Many – not all – Democrats are for keeping abortion legal. Many – not all – Democrats are courageous enough to stand against the religious fundamentalists and their persecution of science and atheists (the second-most reviled group of people in the country, after Congress). Along similar lines, many – not all – Democrats are supportive of the civil rights of the LGBT community, acknowledging that adults should be able to marry whomever they wish, and do whatever they like in the privacy of their own homes, in the face of yet more hostility from “religious” bigots.

    Almost every single Republican is on the record as being fundamentally opposed to each of those issues. Whether or not they really believe it, or are just saying so to satisfy their bloodthirsty base, is another matter. These days it is hard to find any Republican these days willing to admit they agree with Democrats on any of those issues.

    So, they’re not the same, but they do have some despicable similarities. Which is why I may not love the Democratic party, but I’ll take them over the Republicans just about any day of the week.

    I do wish the Democrats would show a little more spine now and then. Representative Pete Stark of California is the only openly atheist elected Democrat in Washington. Honestly, do you think that out of all the Democrats there are in office, only one of them is really an atheist? Of course not. Good luck finding any others who’d admit it.

    Democrats can be just as terrified by the voting public into lying about themselves as Republicans, despite all the criticism the GOP gets for it.

  19. Uninformed? Hardly.

    Different understanding of the truth is more like it.

    Some of us know what Kool-Aid SHOULD taste like.

  20. Okay, all of the points you made seem self-evident to me. However, how can you continue to defend the Democrats? They are doing precisely the same things. The days of even talking a good game are over. As example, Obama threatens a veto over the indefinite detention of American citizens in the NDAA of 2012, and then instead, he signs it and issues a signing statement that HIS administration won’t follow that policy. We all know that is pointless.

    The Democrats, by not standing up and showing true leadership, have shown that they are, in fact, just in bed with the Republicans. They are just as bad. As the Rolling Stone article a few months ago demonstrated how the Republicans became the Party of the Rich had a companion piece showing the worst of the Democrat offenders, it is easy to do.

    The truth is this: Both parties have done great things for this country in the past. At this point though, both have sold out to their love of power and money. The people have lost sight of the fact that the parties are NOT part of the government. The parties have, for all intents and purposes, become one party and are simply playing good cop/bad cop for the stage act. It is time to consign them both to the dustbin of history.

  21. If that’s the case, then you, as a Canadian, are not paying close enough attention. The reality is that any apparent difference is only an act. It is the “This week you pretend to be the bad guy” routine.

  22. One reason Republicans are so against public education is that far more than teaching facts, education (a liberal one, that is) is supposed to teach a person how to think. To question asserted “facts”, to look at both sides of an argument, to see current history in the context of broader history (and thus see the replay of using religion to control the masses, etc).

    From my experience with far right Fox watchers during 2008 campaign, there is no reasoning with them. Facts roll off of their backs with not a notice. They are so brainwashed that when you challenge the facts with proof, they come back with “I’m not voting for Obama because it was wrong for Oprah to refuse to have Sarah Palin on. That’s racist.” What in the world does Oprah have to do with who you are voting for? Who’s the racist? And why is Oprah supposed to do the bidding of Sarah Pali? Of course, it makes ZERO sense. It’s just what they’ve been told and they repeat it with the smug sureness of one who never doubts their choice.

    And that is the sure sign of speaking to someone who has never been taught to think. The wise person knows he/she knows nothing — and thus researches, reads, debates with an open mind but firm grasp of facts and is open to learning and being challenged.

    These people are just being well used by the Republican Party and as frustrating as they are, it says something reprehensible about the GOP that they are so devoid of ideas they have to resort to controlling their base thru misinformation and fear. If they had something to sell that would survive on the free market being sold honestly, they wouldn’t have to do that.

  23. Good point. I was thinking to the beginnings, and how propaganda got those people on the trajectory that they are on now (part of the problem lies with the parents teaching bigotry and “conservative values” to their children). However, once started they are trying to bring about the very society they think is best, and they wish to destroy those who would find their ideal society hell on earth.

  24. Why are the GOP voters so unwilling to consider facts when they make their mental schema of the world?

    It seems that many Republican voters believe that in any dispute depending on facts they will be outwitted and deprives of what is rightfully theirs. Thus people who work for county governments can take a lengthy break to tell you about the waste in government and their oppositiion to it.

    There is now cure for this sort of mentality. It is based in envy and will persist in all times and societies. Progressives must somehow accept human imperfectability and focus on problems that can be solved.

    Assuring that poor people, the frail elderly and school children get enough food is a goal we have tackled and been successful in solving. The answer was not a monolithic government program, but the Re-Inventing government approach of assuring enough financial resources are brought to bear, building a political coalition strong enough to overpower the right and using agencies that are well suited to the different tasks, such as meals on wheels for feeding the elderly, to complete the different components.

    Focus is key. That,and accepting that Republicans will cmplain about harp music in heaven.

  25. Re.Sarah Palin & Federal funds – The entire STATE Government of Alaska is 100% supported with FEDERAL taxes. Alaskans pay no income tax; and in fact,each Alaskan receives a rebate from the oil and gas industry. It is a Socialist State…

  26. Mr. Degenhardt, I think you and your friends deserve a lot of credit for your hard work and that you should take pride in your efforts. Politics is always the story of the half-loaf. You did better than nothing, and in some unseen way the thinking of the conservatives in your county have to take you seriously and will alter their behavior.

  27. I have to disagree with Torch. Every four years I dust off my list of issues, rethink my positions and compare them to my Congressman, Assemblywoman, State & Federal Senators, the Governor and the Presidential candidates. The disparity between the two parties on the state and federal level is real and is growing.

    In between these assessments, I spend a lot of time reading different publications and blogs and find the differences in tone between the Republican and Democratic blogs real, but shrinking. Unfortunately, there is a general, oveall trend toward snarkiness and self-justification.

    But to go back to Torch’s comment, the GOP, with its aggressive instincts and militarized foreign policy approach presents a threat to foreign countries, be they friend or foe.

    In contrast, Obama’s more conciliatory, multi-lateral, soft power approach is supportive of our allies and so far has been extraordinarily effective in furthering American interests and justice throughout the planet.

  28. I am concerned, however… by the implied characterization of all Republicans as lower in intelligence or unable to think. They may have experienced diminished sapience because of the way many of them have been brainwashed, and forgotten how to think critically, but a great many still are smart people and educated.

    People can change their direction, although admittedly it takes some major impetus to do so. It happened to me, and was after that when I realized I’d been manipulated and lied to. Long story short: I discovered truths that had been hidden, caught conservatives and “Good Christians” telling major lies, discovered that they’d been lying to me all along and I’d bought into a lot of the lies, walked away from the mainstream churches, became a democrat (I was already rather liberal by that point) … and then an activist against the people who were behind it all (dominionists/fundamentalists and their Koch financiers) and for the poor and minorities.

    The point is, I am the same person and just as intelligent as I’ve always been, although I’d admit I was brainwashed and my ability to think and reason diminished when I accepted the lies. I’d already had over a year and a half in higher education when they hooked me, and according to a vocabulary test I took a short while before I fell into that cult, my vocabulary was already supposed to have been at least to someone with a M.A. – showing that I was neither ignorant or unable to learn and think.

    The elites that pull the strings are a different story, but most people in the rank and file are and have been manipulated and controlled, not through their minds, but through their emotions (by using and misusing information to influence their emotions – by the elites). Even the most intelligent and thoughtful person can be caught… and that’s why the dominionists target the universities and colleges so much (because they can bring people down so far and the more pliant ones make good money sources!).

  29. Everything this article confirms is that a man will say whatever you want him to say, if you pay him enough.
    And since it has long since been verified that every man can be bought, the only question remaining is, “How much did Roger Ailes have to pay to buy Sean Hannity” ? ?
    Not that it matters, Mr. Ailes reaps far more than he pays . . .

  30. Tsk, tsk…there you liberals go again…running off at the mouth without thinking things through.

    Here’s the truth, and you know it’s the truth:

    All you libtards ever do is sit there and throw out your facts and reasoning and logic and the such. Whatever. If God intended us to think and reason, he would have have provided us the faculty to do those things. But he clearly didn’t give those faculties to me, to those like me, to Republicans and conservatives.

    Therefore, by reason of logic, I can distinctly say God never intended REAL MEN and REAL AMERICANS to think or reason or discern. Liberals are then, clearly, mutants that need to be eradicated, much like thinking and reasoning and logic.

    In FOX we trust.

  31. ROFLMAO!!!

    That’s the funniest yet!!!

    (I hope you don’t mind my thanking you for your joking! It really DOES help and sometimes lightens a gloomy morning or afternoon!)

  32. Verified. It was Hannity.

    I also was reminded of some of the other codes (sometimes called tags), and how some of the reporting was done in such a way that it relayed a racist message (Hannity’s report was overtly racist and ignored all of the facts of the case).

  33. I agree with you on so many points my neck hurts from nodding so much.

    I, too, severely dislike the characterization of conservatives & Republicans (like there’s much separation these days) as unintelligent. I personally know and am close to many, and they are far from stupid. No, my diagnosis would be similar to yours; most often they are emotionally manipulated.

    Being able to think rationally and make informed and enlightened decisions about a subject that is painful to or otherwise emotionally resonant with you is a skill. It is something that almost always needs to be learned, and that learning process is difficult.

    The way I see it, people who lack this skill are far more susceptible to emotional manipulation than those who don’t. Without this skill, anyone with knowledge of your biases and prejudices can easily get you to think or do as they like.

    As an example, this is why people approve of the death penalty. Despite evidence (not to mention logic) disproving the hypothesis that the penalty of death acts as a deterrent, despite the fallibility of humans in general and the justice system in particular allowing innocent people to be falsely executed, despite even religious opposition to it, many conservatives still support the death penalty because they’ve been emotionally manipulated into believing revenge equals justice, and that by failing to exact revenge on perceived wrongdoers or support those who do so you are weak and soft on crime.

    PS: Those dominionists are some truly scary bastards!

  34. Libertarian? EWWWWWWWWWWWW!

    No. I don’t agree with a lot of what Torch says, despite all of my previously stated objections to the Democratic party. But I think the most practical way to improve things in this country is not to look to another party, but to demand more from the Democrats.

    I think many elected Democrats, including Obama, fail to realize just how polarized American politics has become. They’re living in the past, in that golden era when people could be swayed by or at least acknowledge facts that didn’t fit their worldview. Too often, they attempt to compromise or look for bipartisan partnerships with people who will accept no compromise and have no desire to form partnerships.

    I say if a bill has only a slim chance of passing, don’t compromise so much as to weaken the bill’s integrity. If it might fail, have it fail loudly and with dignity, not get passed as an abomination of its original intent. I think more independents (of which I am one) would happily support Democrats if Democrats didn’t so often seem so hesitant or even ashamed at believing in and supporting those things which they say they believe in and support.

    Another aspect of the state of bipartisanship: the majority of the bills brought before the House and Senate that receive bipartisan support are bills that many Americans feel should not in any way, shape, or form be passed and are therefore opposed by constituents from both sides. That is one of the saddest signs of the state of American politics.

    OK, I get sidetracked.

    To leave on a positive note: here’s one of my all-time favorite comic strips about Libertarians. (Granted, it’s a category of one, but that one is superb!)

  35. I’m sorry to have offered a hit-and-run criticism in my previous comment. Please allow me to offer more concrete constructive criticism.

    1. You write, “Without trying to issue a blanket condemnation since obviously every Republican voter isn’t the same…”, and then you go ahead and do exactly that.

    2. You refute the inflammatory statements of an anonymous source and then, as noted above, generalize them to all conservatives. Why? It’s the information age and pollsters abound. Why not do some actual research? Find documented statements from many conservatives. Name names. Cite polls that detail where they get their information. Maybe your research will support your position entirely, or maybe you’d have to modify your statements to say, oh, that 80% of conservatives act as you say they do. Either way, you’ve made a stronger point.

    3. Confirmation bias. Seriously. Don’t you think that we, as well-informed liberals, should be as alert for it in ourselves as we are on the watch for it in conservatives? This shouldn’t be as much about the other guy being wrong, as it is about us being right. THIS is why I’m taking issue with your article. I’m not saying that you conclusions are wrong, only that they are poorly made.

  36. “the problem seems to be, in a word, that they are ill-informed. Worse, this ignorance seems to be a self-imposed state.”

    The next step in your progress will be to ask: Why would people impose stupidity on themselves?

  37. ROFLMAO!!! I’ve gotten more laughs in the last few days than I’ve had in a couple of weeks!

    I consider myself to be rather old-school liberal, and quite hostile to neoliberal thinking, much less conservatism. There are quite a few of us… and we agree with you on demanding more.

    Sadly, people have forgotten the lessons of the depression… unlike some of my “old school” friends (a couple of whom are very notorious, even hated in older Big Business circles). People learned then that the elites and Big Business were actually their enemies, and distrust of those groups dominated the public scene for quite a while – and I wish that people today would see what the folks of that era (and especially those that remember the roaring 20s and how that came about) learned.

  38. Because they’re stupid?


    Seriously… emotions can cause people to do dumb things. Those behind all of this are masters of manipulating emotions.

  39. The Klanservative Klanbagging Kochs___ers who make up the “base” of the Rushpubliscum Party are not only stupid, they are very proud of being stupid. They hold stupidity to be a virtue the way you or I hold knowledge to be desirable. There is a reason they despise teachers, and it ain’t all because of YEWNEYUNS.

  40. I’ve had quite a few chats with these right wingers. Their ignorance is the most outstanding thing. For example one woman thought the Federal Reserve was run by the government and she is a Tea Party member!

    You can’t argue with these kind of people. They have been poisoned with rhetoric that is not even in their interest to believe. Mind control!

  41. Except for “there are no real differences between the Republican and Democrat parties”, I agree with Ruby Lee’s comment.

    I found this article disturbing because the author is using some fairly obnoxious conservative leaders and pundits to fashion the image of ALL conservatives – and then proceeding to knock that image down in typical strawman fashion.

    Without question, the center of the Republican Party has drifted dangerously close to the fringe right and dragged a lot of otherwise fair minded voters along with it. But to use this as a general criticism of ALL conservatives is two dimensional and unproductive.

    To me, the real issue is the growing schism within the Republican Party itself. On one side is a group which is reasonably well identified here by Mr. Haraldsson, but there remains on the other side a group of rational thinkers who just happen to have ideological differences with liberals. Not recognizing this other side is bad business for both Democrats and this country.

    By all means, if you’re looking to trivialize Republican talking points, visit fact free sites like American Thinker and The Weekly Standard. However, some of the sharpest criticism of Tea Party politics has come from David Frum at the conservative site, “Frum Forum”. Similarly, the harshest take-down of Intelligent Design came from John Derbyshire, a conservative who frequently writes for NRO.

    Now you don’t have to agree with conservative solutions to acknowledge there are still some reasonable Republicans out there capable of honestly articulating them. And, since so often the essence of good government is comprimise, lumping all Republicans in the same boat with the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs just takes us further away from that goal.

  42. the conservative leaders and pundits noted may be obnoxious, but they are in the forefront of those putting out information. You cannot just ignore the most popular and highly used information sources because you call them obnoxious. I look at this as discussing Conservatives in general, not totally all-inclusive of all conservatives. when you consider that the leaders you referred to above are the primary sources for information for conservatives there is no strawman.

  43. One comment on the litle second amendment ‘flash card’ at the top. How can the Obama administration be hiding this plan so well that only republicans can find it?

  44. As much as I shudder at some of the things that come out of Republicans’ mouths these days, I feel the headline and introduction to this article is just as sensationalist and propaganda-like as many things said in the GOP camp. Can we have a little more objectivism, please, before we discredit ourselves?

  45. If I see anything about birth certificate, Muslim, socialism, fascism, blah blah….I immediately just move on. This article presents extremely well the exact atmosphere and utter futility of trying to converse with these people. I live in a rural area of a very red state, and I’m surrounded by exactly these kinds. It used to be extremely frustrating, I think because many of us thought we could appeal to their sensibilities; we found out quickly they have none and don’t care to have any.

  46. Kind of along the IQ conversation/argument, I read an article some months back about studies done about actual brain structures of conservatives vs. liberals, and there were some distinct differences in the amygdala (if I remember correctly) of the brain which could account for the way people think, learn, reason, etc. I wish I remembered more details, but it presented a pretty compelling theory.

  47. My experience exactly… when faced with the facts, they’ll call you a liar, and if you persist, they start repeating themselves over and over (almost sounding like a mantra).

    An example would be “I’m a young earth creationist! I’m a young earth creationist!” (Constantly repeated)

    Another would be “Did you personally see evolution happen? Did you personally see evolution happen?” (Also constantly repeated)

    It’s useless to talk with them.

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