The Tenuous Relationship Between The Right And Reality

Posted by | October 17, 2012 16:09 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Tom Bissell describes the different reactions from progressives after the first debate and conservatives after the second one:

…Democrats remain frustratingly vulnerable to defeatism. When Obama lost the first debate, most Democrats looked up at the falling sky and saw not the careful designs of Satan but the punishment of God the Father: Why? Why have You forsaken us? And this is, I believe, a real temperamental difference in how liberals and conservatives construct and filter reality. When Obama fell behind in the polls, most Democrats didn’t claim the polls were falsified; they judged it as an accurate reflection of disastrous reality.

Mitt Romney lost the second presidential debate, and already I am reading the conservative tweets, Facebook posts, and blog fulminations. Democrats and Republicans spin and spin alike, but Republican spin seems weirdly and constitutionally incapable of accepting the obvious: Romney had an acceptable night, but the President had a very good one. Republican spin, in other words, actually believes itself.

The Republican Party, in its current incarnation, delights in its studied rejection of expert thinking on any number of topics: evolution (no thank you), global warming (a hoax concocted by scientists), the causes of the global financial meltdown (the result of stupid poor people buying homes they couldn’t afford). This is what most troubles me about a potential Romney administration and about modern-day conservatism in general: Too convinced by its rightness to cede ground on any issue, too devoted to ideological purity to accept deviation, too committed to its vision to contemplate the very real possibility that not everything it believes is self-evidently true.

Confidence has worked well for the right wing over the past three decades.  Heck, it even played a role in giving George W. Bush the presidency after the disputed election in 2000.  But there can be too much of a good thing.  If President Obama wins in three weeks, I think many conservatives will not accept it.  And that is very dangerous in a democracy.

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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