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A paucity of ideas

October 25th 2008 02:26
I have spent the past several weeks talking with a number of people of all stages in life, working and retired, liberal and self-professed conservative. Many have a decidedly firm argument that they will never vote for Barack Obama. The persons most committed to than viewpoint say the same things.

• Senator Obama consorts with terrorists and may be one himself. Why take a chance?

• Senator Obama is an enemy of Israel and he will destroy the only democracy in the region
• Senator Obama is a “socialist” or, worse, a “communist”. He is going to “redistribute the country’s wealth, increase taxes.

• His name is indicative of his loyalties. If he were a “real” American, he would have changed it to “Barry” and anything other than “Hussein”.

These views are expressed by many people, including Sarah Palin. These arguments of the Right, successor and conservator of the conservative position, are essentially vapid, unstructured repetition of slogans and cliché. They convince no one, bring no one to their views; they serve only to arouse a believing crowd. The fact that these believers restrict their information sources to Fox News or the stars of the Right, Rush, Ann, Sean or Bill O’Reilly does not make them stupid and, indeed, often they are intelligent; but intelligence without intellectual curiosity is a blind and reckless force at best.

I have a relative who will not vote – for anyone. He asserts that he may not know all of the background of the attacks on the Democratic candidate but he has neither the time nor inclination to study the ads and, even if he voted it wouldn’t make a difference.

Listen to the profoundly empty "Joe Six-Pack", "Hockey Mom" silliness as Governor Palin, John McCain's designated culture weapon, and it's no wonder that the Republican Party is shedding intellectuals. Not only is serious thought discouraged, it is mocked.

As conservative columnist David Brooks of the New York Times pointed out, Governor Palin is the latest "cancer" to result from the virulent strain of populist anti-intellectualism that has come to define the modern Right. With Kathleen Parker, and then William F. Buckley Jr. both being tarred and feathered by their fellow conservatives, simply for voicing dissenting opinions and now with Brooks coming as close to a outright endorsement of Obama, I wonder how we got to such a crazy place; a place so nutty that brains have become a wedge issue and being elite a negative.

It didn't start out this way.

Once upon a time we had leaders who were both highly intelligent and intellectually curious. While our current president struggles with English, our Founding Fathers spoke four to five languages. They weren't just politicians but diplomats and inventors, scientists, authors and public intellectuals.

There was a time when America's leaders neither aspired to be average nor pretended to be. They weren't Joe Six-Pack. They were the best among us. They were the elite. In fact, they were our leaders precisely because they were the best among us.

There are a number of qualities essential to good leadership. Courage is important, to be sure, but a cool head and a firm hand are important as well. Knowledge both wide and deep and the judgment to wield it- wisdom in other words - is perhaps the most essential quality of all.

Now, in a highly emotional "change" election, one party is running a former poor student who himself admits to being hot-headed and impulsive, whose low-road campaigning has tarnished both the electoral process and his own reputation and whose political ideas become less credible with every emerging reality. As his running mate this man has, either recklessly or cynically, chosen a woman who believes instead of thinking, who knows little of the world and whose every tortured sentence is an affront to the logic of language itself.
The result has been a fracture in the Conservative followers.

I have previously noted the disintegration of the Conservative cause and some of the reasons of its failure. Uppermost has been the scorn directed to those of its adherents who are well-read and elitist. Really Long Link

I’ll discuss that in a later post.

[The substance of this post has been previously published at EXAMINER.COM]
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4 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Jeff Musall

October 26th 2008 04:49
Well put, Jim...what we are seeing with the conservative movement iis hopefully ithe beginnning of the end of that movement.

Comment by Randy Inman

October 26th 2008 14:03

Comment by Randy Inman

October 26th 2008 14:04
High ranking democrats are the real elitists. They want Americans to all live in slums and be happy for whatever crumbs fall to them.

Comment by Jeff Musall

October 26th 2008 16:55
Funny thing, I would say that's precisely what the conervative/corporate elites want - an almost fuedal majoirty who shuts up and follows the leader and has the "wage insecurity" that they think keeps people in line. They look at a country like Mexico is now and like it - a very few very, very, rich -and everyone else. And the so-called "social conservatives" are blind to the fact that they are being gamed to make it happen.

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