For those of us who struggle to understand national affairs from a rational perspective, it’s a source of perennial amazement that so many others—especially intelligent and even well-educated others—persist in beliefs that range from quirky to downright paranoid.
Like Don Quixote, the Republican “base”—the core of extreme conservatives—seems passionately involved in tilting with windmills, fighting battles that exist only in their minds (such as the current campaign against Obama’s so-far nonexistent Supreme Court nominee). Rage is their banner and fear is their shield, and they regularly and willfully submit themselves to rhetoric that keeps those passions stoked.
And where can such rhetoric be found? At the pulpits of conservative churches (where, for many years, the words “politics” and “abortion” have been synonymous); in the secular fire-and-brimstone speeches of conservative talk radio; and, most of all, in the commentary of pundits on one particular television station. If there’s one thing today’s political conservatives seem to have in common, it’s their devotion to the “Fair and Balanced.”
Any attempt to argue with the circular logic typical of these sources (e.g., “Obama is bad because everything he says and does is wrong because Obama is bad”) is dismissed as propaganda—dastardly lies perpetrated by the “liberal media” (which is to say any sources other than the afore-mentioned).
Cult-like brainwashing can only be cured by removing the victims from the source of their delusions. Frames of mind and powerful emotions—even unpleasant, negative emotions—are habit forming and self-reinforcing. However, in a free country, those so afflicted—like those who are prey to other types of addictions—must decide to remove themselves.
If the airwaves suddenly went silent, forcing people to do more reading and perhaps even listening to others of different persuasions, perhaps we as a nation would make better progress toward cooperation, mutual understanding, and true “bipartisanship.”