“Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.”
Dr. Sarah Palin, M.Sc., Ph.D., Dum.Ass, at a climate skeptics wingnut welfare gig.0 comments)
My political leanings have ebbed and flowed over the years. In high school I was a radical left-winger. Later in college I came to be a starry-eyed Randian libertarian. Sometime toward the end of Clinton’s second term I became a somewhat right-leaning conservative with a primary focus on economic matters over those of the social variety. Over the last few years, I’ve found myself swinging back to the left.
I mention my oscillating political allegiances for a reason. The primary force behind the gradual changes in my outlook over the years has been the energy I derived from the concepts and ideas that I happened to gravitate toward at the time. In college, I was introduced to Atlas Shrugged and a number of Ayn Rand’s other writings. Something in her books touched a particular intellectual nerve (and, admittedly, a certain youthful, exceptionalist narcissism within me) that swept me up in a deeper dive over the years into other meditations on rugged individualism and the merits of free market capitalism. Although I’ve fallen out of love with a lot of my prior thinking, it was always the intellectual vigor that I found in my political/economic philosophy du jour that kept me coming back for more.
Fast forward to the present day. After bearing witness over the last eight years to quite possibly the most incurious, intellectually bankrupt President in American history, the election and inauguration of President Obama has provided me with a long-needed shot of new intellectual vigor. Even though I don’t agree with him on every issue, I am deeply grateful for the fact that we again have a President that is mentally qualified to thoroughly digest the most complex issues of the day and come up with reasoned, intellectually supportable solutions.
Contrast Obama’s demonstrated ability with what we’re being forced to witness on the other side of the political spectrum.
Instead of offering intelligent, fact-based critiques of Obama’s agenda and specific policy counterproposals, the core GOP wingnuts left in power have embarked upon an irrational, ever-escalating scorched-earth campaign to whine, lie, cry, distort facts, demonize, red-bait, race-bait, mischaracterize and fear-monger.
Even though my views on policy matters have changed over the years, I still have a good amount of empathy for various classic conservative dispositions like fiscal restraint, individual liberty, resistance to statism, etc. Although there is still a great deal of wisdom locked up in conservatism, its current incarnation is as intellectually bankrupt as anything I could imagine. If this is the best they have to offer, the Republican Party is going to have to spend a long time in the wilderness before it has any chance of reclaiming some small sliver of the intellectual underpinnings it once had.