Perhaps “political intelligence” and disgust with “alternative realities” is on the rise?
The imprisoned WWII theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, made a most illuminating, prescient distinction:
Folly is a more dangerous enemy of the good than evil. One can protest against evil; it can be unmasked and if necessary prevented by force. Against folly we have no defense. Neither protest nor force can touch it; reasoning is no use; facts that contradict personal prejudice can be disbelieved . . . the fool as distinct from the scoundrel is completely self-satisfied . . . [thus] dangerous [and] aggressive.
Recent GOP primaries presage that Trumpist wins are bad news for real-world party control, whether in states or in Congress: bad candidates lose elections, however they scream about phantom fraud. Thus does the 2022 midterm loom as a more significant watershed than the GOP sweep predicted months ago. Acting alone to protect his crushed ego, Trump is still working his wrecking ball party assault. Every time he or toadies harp on his baffling, imploding Big Lie, many Republicans cringe; some flee in disgust. Because of wacko rightwing candidates, Senate control is now the Democrats to lose – and more House seats are up for grabs.
Thanks to pro-abortion Kansas rout, a slew of centrist/Democratic voters, sickened by nasty Republican warfare against women’s rights, rushed in to reinforce the sovereignty of majority rule. The great decider in 2022 politics won’t be Biden’s approval numbers but a GOP infested with cognitive dissonance – and even more damage from Trump election scam bites. Why vote if everything is rigged? Bring on the Trump charade, nominate him, and bad goes to worse. If potential inmates Trump, plus Bannon, Alex Jones and the scurrilous gang, are the face of Republicanism, fire and brimstone are soon to follow.
Mobility – the ultimate government task
If patterns continue, by November more aggrieved white, blue collar voters, fed up with billionaire/corporate baloney, could abandon the veneered Midas. Trickle-down delivers far more tricks than treats, and you get better odds buying lottery tickets. Overall, the GOP’s hatred of government informs the loss in U.S, socio-economic mobility, now lagging Europeans with less racist, far freer higher education venues decided solely on talent-achievement measures. In contrast, did President Trump battle corporate outsourcing, or talk up job training, free education, or backyard infrastructure projects? Dems understand when priming the federal pump resolves emergency needs.
Fleeing ex-Trumpers are clearly upping their “political intelligence” – knowing what and whom to trust to get more of what your family and community need. “Political intelligence” is quite different from political ignorance, the latter being clueless how our system operates (like rules and laws that dominate everyone’s choices). Years of polling confirm astonishing ignorance by under-informed multitudes: how bills are passed, how war is declared, how long do senators serve, what the Federal Reserve does, or how regressively aristocratic are the Electoral College and the filibuster. Lacking knowledge (from inadequate education or low interest) differs markedly from far more dangerous folly of political stupidity, driven, say, when faith alone or trusting messiahs are the sole reality checks.
Political intelligence allows us to organize and overcome scattered numbers, cultivating what the collective should do for the many, not the few. The ignorant, when honest, simply admit what they don’t know; the belligerently foolish are convinced they know everything, trapped by immortalizing their own B.S. as if commandments. Thus, if you vote for outlawing abortion, you better pray your unmarried teenage daughter never gets pregnant – because bingo, welcome to grandparenthood. Bank on no one you love having a complicated pregnancy that, when untreated by bizarre limits on routine medical intervention, results in disaster. “Two things are infinite,” Albert Einstein allegedly quipped: “The universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
Thus, while rightwing grievance is impossible to dismiss, that hardly explains why multitudes of free people are taken in by fascism and, worse still, rely on discredited racism to claim superiority over different tribes. Racists may win screaming matches, but scientific consensus confirms that “race” is wholly a social construct. We all define one species. Only political stupidity explains how supremacists, forever talking up individual freedoms, squander rights and defend self-absorbed, domineering poseurs out to control everything. It’s a mystery. Either America is about individual freedom – or the whole deal has been prologue to tyranny, as in when patriarchy institutes forced-birth policies even after rape and incest. Either women are full citizens with rights or not – as with pregnancy, there’s no in-between.
Ditto with election mayhem when political fools shoot their own rights in the head. No big surprise when dim voters cease judging prospects on job qualifications, minimum experience, or whether campaign promises are reliable. Because Republicans openly oppose all rational, national health programs (except Medicare), Trump lied through his teeth by pledging better, wider, more affordable health care. Likewise, he lied through his teeth that a southern wall resolves immigration mayhem (more non-returnees fly in). Would any adult choose a life-saving surgeon on sound bites and empty slogans alone? Only buffoons keep rewarding crass operators who insultingly serve up bad beer and greasy burgers. Only dolts conclude that predatory overseers, rich thanks to manipulation, have any sympathy for workers exploited by union opposition, suppressing dissenters, and using every legalism to sustain the status quo.
Similarly, by rewarding election fraudsters (icons of mendacity), Trump loyalists devalue both the idea of election (to decide winners) and their own hard-won voting rights. Just screaming “rigged” has all the density of an outer-space vacuum – and obliterates any chance for fair, representative government. When a fixated minority of fools agrees to reject certified elections, despotism is the inevitable next step. Just listen to Orban and the latest CPAC tirades.
To end on a lighter note regarding political intelligence, consider only the last two Republican presidents. Can anyone defend Dubya or Trump as superior intellects or marginally successful leaders? Did their election not explode the absurdity of favoring Washington “outsiders” – bingo, our two worst modern presidents? Contrast in simple political intelligence (or experience or achievements) these losers with Obama or Biden (forget biases, preferences or sentiment). Both Democrats got (are getting) things done because they understand what government can or must do in hard times: that’s no defense of all that Dems do, but at least they apply skills to better distribute the wealth that improves economic mobility. What did Dubya or Trump do to advance poor or average folks? Unless of course, starting unjustified wars, lowering taxes on the rich, or botching a once-a-century health epidemic count as achievements.
Has the tide not turned?
In short, one must conclude that “ultra MAGA” supporters, lacking all political intelligence to know their own best economic interests, got what they deserved. Throw in spite, hatred of government, and obstruction (with evangelical manias on abortion) and bravo for Trumpism. Having won only one popular presidential vote since 1992, what likely GOP nominee looks to reverse that pattern? A party smugly reinforcing its own insularity invites national retribution. What evidence shows the Rethugs are stronger today than six or twelve months ago?
If Trumpism remains the public face of Republicanism, this party of sickos will shrink, and that means less functional political intelligence in a world of great, unstoppable demographic shifts. Were the Stupid Party to renominate Trump (which I think improbable), it would jeopardize a party legacy pushing 170 years – though with the added, happy benefit of reducing the odds that today’s rightwing oligarchy surges into the seriously tyrannical. Successful dictators need far more political intelligence than Trump’s band of buffoons. Anything is possible, but let’s not exclude the prospect that even the politically backward, when sufficiently and persistently abused, will not eventually wake up. You need not be an eternal optimist to read obvious, recent signs of national GOP demise.