Doing what I do for a living, it goes without saying that I frequently engage in back and forth “debates” with Republicans. And, as many of you might expect, most of the time I leave those debates feeling as if I had just debated someone who lives on some other fictional plane of reality.
Following these debates I sometimes ask myself the question Will Smith’s character asked in the movie I, Robot:
“Does believing you’re the last sane man on the planet make you crazy?”
Don’t forget, I live in Texas. Which means that I’m constantly surrounded by right-wing conservatives. There are definitely times where I’ve jokingly questioned my own sanity being surrounded by so many people who seem so impervious to things that I view as just basic common sense.
But no matter where I might encounter these Republicans (be it online or in person) there’s one common trait that almost all of them have shared: Their inability to grasp complex ideas.
Sure, they can spout off any number of “bumper sticker” style talking points – but most of them can’t explain any of them.
If you think about the “big” issues most Republicans cling to, they’re all very simple:
- Tax cuts
- The Bible
That’s about it.
Their stances on abortion and gay marriage are derived from the Bible. While their beliefs on guns and tax cuts are typically driven by lobbyists and special interest groups who’ve managed to convince millions of people that guns don’t cause gun violence and that basic economics (demand creates jobs) has nothing to do with job creation.
Seriously, go ask a Republican to explain why a business would create a job it doesn’t need just because they received a tax cut. Seeing them try to answer that is often hilarious.
And I know some conservatives reading this will try to say that they’re “all about the Constitution.” But that’s complete b.s. Republicans use the Constitution as a prop. Whenever it supports rights with which they disagree (a woman’s right to have an abortion for example) they’ll gladly do everything they can to violate those rights.
Climate change is a perfect example of this small-minded approach to the world I see a lot of the time from Republicans. Every winter, it’s inevitable that several clowns on Fox News will point to a cold front as “proof” that climate change is all one big liberal hoax. Failing to grasp the reality that weather and climate are two completely different things.
Guns are another great example of this short-sighted approach many of them have to the world. Why do many people say they need guns? To protect themselves from “bad guys” with guns, right? Why is it these “bad guys” have guns in the first place? Well, because many of the same types of people who now claim we need “good guys with guns to fight bad guys with guns” are the ones who’ve made sure guns have been easily accessible to “bad guys” for decades. See, they created a problem that they’ve now convinced millions of Americans can only be “solved” by the very thing that’s caused the problem in the first place…
It’s kind of genius in a way.
Health care is another issue that puts on full display the inability for Republicans to see the “big picture.” Many Republicans seem unable to grasp that universal access to preventative care, which is achieved through true socialized health care, actually lowers health care costs in the long run. Even a simple reality such as that seems too complex for many Republicans. It forces them to think in the long term instead of right now.
Heck, just look at how many of them still believe in the story of Noah’s ark. It’s much easier to believe stories that are geared more toward young children (Noah gathered up two of every animal on Earth to protect them from a giant flood) than it is to believe in the very complex nature of science and evolution.
Time and time again I witness Republicans rejecting ideological stances on issues because they’re simply too complex. It’s easier for Republicans to just oppose abortion entirely than it is for them to oppose abortion while supporting the right for other women to choose for themselves. It’s easier for them to “just go to war” than it is to exhaust all forms of diplomacy before sending our troops into harm’s way. It’s easier for them to just arm every man, women and child in this country than it is to use logic and common sense when debating sensible gun regulations that seek to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
This is also how the Republican party controls their voters – by keeping it simple. It doesn’t matter if what they’re saying or doing makes any sense, just as long as it sounds good. As long as it’s repeatable, and plays well to their audience, that’s really all that matters.