"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Monday, September 08, 2008

Couldn't have said it better

From the History News Network, an article written by historian and college professor Mark Naisan:
The McCain Palin ticket, if elected, would be a disaster for the country. Their propensity to invoke God's will as a justification for government policies, their contempt for science and intellect, their extraordinary lack of knowledge about the culture and history of the major nations of the world, and their shameless defense of an oil-centered energy policy that has produced economic and ecological disaster for the nation, poorly prepares them to lead a nation whose reputation has been damaged by an ill-considered war and whose position in the global economy has been steadily weakening.
Exactly right, and I figure that anyone and everyone understands this. But then, just as I start getting hopeful that we're on the verge of waking up from an eight-year-long national nightmare, I continue reading and get sucker-punched by the next paragraph of Naisan's essay:
However, the very things that make McCain and Palin feared in most of the world gives them an excellent chance of winning the presidency. Their proud anti-intellectualism, reflected in their personal histories as well as their rhetoric, touches a powerful chord with many working class and middle class Americans. There is a long tradition in this country of mistrusting people who have advanced academic training, which the McCain/Palin ticket has used to great effect in holding Barack Obama up to ridicule. While some Americans might admire Obama for working as a community organizer before attending Harvard Law School, and for teaching law before running for public office, Republicans have used these features of his biography to say that he doesn't understand how "real folks" live.
Well this is distressing ... but then, here comes the coup de gras:
After listening to the speeches at the Republican Convention, I am convinced that appealing to such fears and suspicions is at the core of the McCain/Palin strategy. None of this is new. From George Wallace, to Spiro Agnew to Rush Limbaugh, the right has used anti-intellectualism as one of its major rallying cries. But to do so at this historic moment, when the American economy is in deep disarray and so many of its foreign policy initiatives have come to grief, is particularly worrisome. Will working class and middle class Americans see through this desperate charade and vote for someone with the temperament, training and intellect to actually solve some of the nation's problems, or will they let their own fears and prejudices wed them to the status quo?
Good question, and it's worth noting that McCain's post-convention bounce in the tracking polls has closed his rival's earlier 6-point lead, leaving the two candidates in a statistically dead-even match. Still, I remain optimistic; even though (to my utter amazement) Americans re-elected George W. Bush in 2004, I can only hope we have learned from that colossal mistake and are not indeed a nation of idiots after all.

Knowledge and culture = good. Fear and prejudice = bad. Is this really so fucking hard to grasp?


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