A few years back I worked with a guy who was probably a genius. In fact, he often struggled in life interacting with people because his brain simply performed at a higher level than the average person. I remember asking him what his biggest belief was in making life decisions and he always, without fail, told me “think of the bigger picture.” And while I’ve always tried to be a big picture thinker, knowing him when I did helped me understand it a little better.
He always told me the biggest issue he faced when dealing with people was that he’d see things in a bigger scope that most people simply couldn’t follow. While many people tend to not see beyond a particular moment, day, week or even month, he operated with a sense of “is what I’m doing now the best course of action to set me up for success not just now, but later on.” He used to tell me people would come to him for advice every once in a while and often walk away angry because what they wanted to hear wasn’t usually what they needed to hear. He was actually one of the first people who made me aware of the fairly obvious (though I was young and had never really thought about it) human characteristic of adoring people who tell them what they want to hear, or what they understand, while condemning those who don’t. Most people really just want to be assured of what they hope will happen rather than take a good long look at what’s best for themselves in the long run.
And while he wasn’t right about everything, he was fairly brilliant when it came to a lot of things. I will say as a young person at the time, this person – who I haven’t spoken to in years – made a profound impact on how I viewed life going forward.
Which brings me to President Obama. While I’m not calling him a genius, I do think he’s extremely intelligent. I also believe that his tendency to use “big picture” thinking while drafting policy is something most Republican voters simply can’t understand.
Take “Obamacare” for instance. It’s not a “fix health care today” law. In fact, the law itself is made to grow and evolve over time. My belief is that it’s a springboard to true socialized medicine. But, as it is now, it’s a long-term outlook on our health care. While many Republicans want to look at the “now” aspect of the Affordable Care Act, they seem unable to grasp the reality that as more Americans get health insurance, giving them access to preventable care, this lowers expenses down the road for everyone. If people can prevent very costly heart attacks, strokes or other debilitating health issues now, that’s an overall savings for practically everyone from consumers to health insurers to doctors who now have more patients. Quite literally, improving the overall health of Americans will improve the health of this country. It even makes sense for our economy. If workers are healthier, because they have access to quality health care, that means there will be fewer people calling in sick to work, showing up sick to work (putting other employees at risk) or relying on government programs because their health conditions (that were preventable) render them unable to work at all.
But to see all of that requires “big picture” thinking and Republicans seem unable to understand anything beyond the spoon-fed bumper sticker talking points they’re given by the GOP and the conservative media.
Minimum wage is another issue you see this with. Republicans constantly paint it as a “job killer” (it’s not) while also rallying against the millions of people who are on government assistance. Funny thing though, a good portion of the Americans who are on government assistance have jobs. If we made sure that no American working full-time had to rely on government programs just to survive, instantly we would save our country hundreds of billions of dollars over the years. Not only that, but when Americans have more money, they have more to spend. And what’s the biggest driver of economic growth? Consumer spending. More consumer spending means higher profits and higher demand, which means – more jobs.
But once again, when it comes to Republicans and explaining job creation, anything outside of “tax cuts create jobs” is often too complex for many of them to understand.
The same goes for war. When it comes to ISIS, Republicans just want to send in troops and “crush the terrorists.” They’ve hammered President Obama relentlessly about how he’s handled the entire situation. See, to many of them, they just want to go in guns blazing because that’s what sounds good. But as we’ve learned by our previous war in Iraq, going into these situations haphazardly without a plan leads to absolute chaos. Remember, the existence of the ISIS we see today is a direct result of Bush’s Iraq War.
When it comes right down to it, I really do believe a huge part about why so many of the non-racist Republicans are against President Obama is because many of them are simply unable to grasp his “big picture” thinking that drives a lot of his policies. That requires intelligence and far too many conservative would rather just be told what to think by Fox News. They want their policies to be so simplified and catchy that they fit on bumper stickers.
It’s like I’ve often said, Democrats are trying to use science, math, reality, history and education to reason with people who deny science, don’t trust math, create their own reality, distort history and often devalue quality education.
And that’s a big reason why we’re not getting anywhere in this country.
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