Friday, September 02, 2005

The Luddites Are In Charge

The Common-Nonsense Guide to Politics

The average Republican, ethical and hard-working, must feel that the political leaders of the party of his choice are equally so. Many Republicans see themselves as foot-soldiers in a cultural battle against the forces of the Liberal Left, a large but purposely ill-defined group. And the Liberal Left must remain ill-defined, in order that the term can serve as a weapon rather than as the definition of a specific policy. And all the stories of unethical, mendacious, dishonest or lethal behavior by Republican Leaders can thus either be dismissed as propaganda or overlooked as merely collateral damage, perfectly acceptable in the larger war for the soul of the Nation.

Yes, Republican policies may favor the rich, may seem to fellate the corporate giants and pander to the religious extremists who seen the battle less in terms of culture and more in terms of Armageddon, but the essential common-sensibility of the Republican character will bring us to a better world, a better place. So they must believe.

What must be pondered by the foot-soldiers is something more destructive of this nation than the military adventurism and Constitutional subversion of the current Republican leadership is the rampant anti-intellectualism which underlies their political posturing. Beginning with the “egghead” charges against Adlai Stevenson which propelled Dwight Eisenhower into office, Republican campaigns have targeted the better educated, particularly those from the most prestigious schools, the faculties, the writers, the readers, the historians, the scientists. Those groups within the population who have been most responsible for the technological advances in industry, in the standard of living, of health care, of agriculture, of exploration and of preservation of the environment, have all been treated either with outright hostility or with condescending neglect.

While no responsible Republican leader has yet advocated renouncing all the advances and creature comforts these targeted groups have provided, the steady drumbeat of anti-science is having its effect. The Luddites are in charge and growing bolder. This then is more than a culture war, it is a war of the worlds.

Of course, politicians of all parties campaign on “common-sense” platforms, deriding all ideas and ideals that conflict with quotidian observation. Up to a point. We haven’t seen serious claims that the earth is flat, that the sun and moon are in orbit around us, or that public policy can best be determined by examining the entrails of goats. But we are now being victimized by the unprecedented (since Gallileo) Republican assault on Science; our children’s education is compromised and the essential concept that Knowledge brings Enlightenment is now being overthrown by assaults on Freedom of Thought and Expression and on Constitutional safeguards for those very necessary ingredients of a Free Society.

It is the responsibility of every citizen and voter of this country to consider what this policy will bring to us. An Oligarchy? We’ve already become that. A Theocracy? We’re well on the way. A Democracy? Never.


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