Ed. note: The following is a repost of a Facebook comment offered to a friend from New Zealand who is constantly baffled by what he witnesses in the American political process, and happened to inquire about Republican efforts to … well, right. It has to do with recent House bills pertaining to the role of science in government policy.
I think the best way to explain it is to once again invoke a Cold War analogy; after all, depicting Democrats as “liberals”, with “liberals” meaning “Soviet Communists” was a key to Ronald Reagan’s electoral success.
But think about it this way, too: By that analogy, Republicans are the “capitalists”.
So it goes, then, that if we look at votes as “capital”, then the actions of the RNC, Congressional Republicans, and various surrogates and allies make sense: Get the capital by whatever means necessary.
That’s why the whole thing is so puzzling to people who, you know, have a conscience. The GOP ain’t playin’ that way. This is about winning votes, and nothing more. And in the United States, conservative voters will take whatever they can get to reinforce their platform. Additionally, superstition and subjective moral outrage are much more attractive to most American voters than obvious logic that, if attended, would skip the melodrama and slapstick that has become our political system.
To that end, we might consider Manichean dualisms or, simply, reality television. Just as many people believe in a basic struggle between good and evil, so also do many people believe reality television depicts reality.
In that context, it becomes a capitalistic ratings game; our elections become a functional part of our entertainment industry.
What Republicans are trying to do here is twofold: (1) Bolster their own political fantasies by excluding reality; (2) create a situation in which government will experience an even greater failure about its performance of duty so that they can complain even louder that government just doesn’t work.
Abrams, Lindsay. “House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research”. Salon. 19 November 2014.
Benen, Steve. “Republicans take aim at imaginary target: ‘secret science'”. msnbc. 20 November 2014.