Thursday, September 03, 2009

Skimming this article, I just realized something. Politically-cynical people like to call the two major American political parties the "stupid party" and the "evil party". Partisans like to say that's because Republicans are actively unsophisticated, undereducated, and generally ignorant, while Democrats hate the country, are contemptuous of morality and codes of honor, and are in favor of theft (taxes), murder (abortion), and debauchery (sex & drugs). But it occurs to me, reading the reasons that various pompous liberal pundits loved the president, and are now disappointed in his performance, that perhaps these distinctions aren't so much positive as negative.

That is, it isn't that Republicans are stupid - they're just less worried about being thought stupid. Their value system, on average & in the mass aggregate, doesn't put much weight on knowledge and sophistication. Some studies I've seen suggested that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to have a bachelor degree, but less likely to have any postgraduate education - that is, it's important to go to college, but there isn't that extra push into a masters or PhD or JD or whatever. Meanwhile, it isn't that Democrats are actively malevolent, they're just less worried about explicitly moral judgments. They're concerned more with practical ethics and situational evaluations of human situations than they are with foundational moralities - the verities. Democrats tend to be malleable in a moral sense because they don't take seriously the idea of moral permanence.

But beyond those two tendencies, the Democrat cares passionately about being thought knowledgeable and well-informed - Huffington's admiration for Obama's ability to "communicate complex ideas". Meanwhile the Republican is passionate about being judged righteous: Lincoln's "prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side" & Palin's paraphrase of that prayer.

Republicans are "stupid" because their priority is righteousness, and Democrats are "evil" because their priority is intelligence. Would you rather be thought a fool, or be damned to perdition?

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