Home > Uncategorized > This post isn’t really about Rick Santorum

This post isn’t really about Rick Santorum

February 25, 2012

But let’s look at him for a moment:

I could go on – seriously. His weird view of the French Revolution, his assertion that John McCain doesn’t know from torture… the guy’s a nut; roll story and cut to commercial. Except for one thing: he’s the Republican party’s frontrunner in the current primaries. And his immediate competitor isn’t much better. So I’m going to make a modest proposal here:

“Insanity at the national level is bad for the country.”

It’s radical, I know. But hear me out: Santorum is only a symptom. The disease is that Conservatives are actually taking people like him seriously. Or to put it another way, people like him are pushing the Overton Window away from reality-based policy making in the direction of weapons-grade crazy.

Case in point: the Republicans had one candidate who could at least accept that scientists are right about climate change and evolution, but he’s trailing in sixth place. If you’re a Republican and you believe rational things, you can’t get anyone to return your calls.

This isn’t just bad for the Republican party; it’s bad for the Democratic party too.  Once upon a time if a Democratic candidate was a real halfwit, people would go vote Republican because it was a realistic alternative. Now, the choice would be between halfwit and all-crazy. A Democratic candidate need be only rational enough to be the nose-holding choice over the crazy alternative. Over time – a relatively short time – this means the Democratic party degrades as well.

And it isn’t just bad for the country; it’s bad for the world. The US is in a position to exert tremendous global economic, environmental and human-rights leadership. We are heading into several bottlenecks at once: peak oil, economic collapse, fisheries (and oceanic ecosystems) collapsing, population (exponential not linear) growth, and the big one, climate change. We can’t afford to dither now, because Mother Nature doesn’t give a damn about our precious national borders. Unless of course, homosexuals got to marry or something.

But how to push that Overton Window back towards reality-based policy-making? The floor is open to suggestions, folks. Any ideas?

NOTES and updates

  • My favorite example is Eisenhower vs Stevenson – what a nice problem that must have been to have.
  • I’m defining “insanity” and “crazy” here as; “Stubbornly clinging to beliefs and actions that are contrary to evidence and the best current scientific consensus”. Scientists have a good track record of getting things right because they are relatively quick to weed out mistakes and errors. This is something that religions and cults of personality, never do.
  • What’s an “Overton Window“? It’s a political frame for the desirability of an idea, and a technique for moving the range of what is acceptable.
  • This post is inspired by a tweet from @polerin:
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. WeeDram
    February 26, 2012 at 09:32 | #1

    Watching the news this morning and listening to some analysis, the thought that went through my mind was that if Santorum gets the nomination, it proves how bat-shit crazy the American people are. I quickly revised that to just “crazy” … if he actually wins the Presidency, then the country is definitely bat-shit crazy.

  2. February 26, 2012 at 09:36 | #2

    Exactly. And rather than beat around the rosebush to avoid the elephant in the room (mixed metaphors?), I’m going to say that religion is bad for our country – to the extent that batsh** religious beliefs are becoming the basis for legislation and public policy.

  3. Drew
    February 27, 2012 at 10:56 | #3

    I would call the American people bat-shit crazy, as this is an insult to both bats and their shit. No, I would say the American public is ill-informed and disengaged. My bet is they know nearly nothing about the candidates for which they vote, obsessed instead with their lawns, their weekends, their boats and their grown-up toys. I don’t think the average voter really thinks there is much difference between the two parties … they’re just not quite apathetic enough to skip voting altogether. Maybe they should be.

  4. Drew
    February 27, 2012 at 10:56 | #4

    Sorry … I “wouldn’t”

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