Republicans & The Culture Of Ignorance

Republicans didn’t always used to be champions of ignorance. Funny irony? When the Republican Party was founded back in 1854 (Abraham Lincoln was among its founders), their anti-slavery mission statement spoke of their dedication to classical liberalism and real economic opportunity for all Americans not just the moneyed class.

As Heather Cox Richardson points out in her excellent To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party, after 1912, the GOP shifted away from those ideals — and started to metastasize into the hard core racist party driven by white Southern rage that it is today.

These “new-fangled” Republicans pointed squarely at their religious faith as the justification for both their racism and their backwardness — a backwardness they felt compelled to shove down everyone else’s throat. It’s not surprising. Ignorance detests knowledge because knowledge is ignorance’s kryptonite.

By the same token, ignorant people detest information because information destroys their ignorance — and they need their ignorance to justify their politics and their whole belief system. Republicans are all about Magical Thinking. That’s great when you’re a kid and regardless of whether or not Santa Claus is real, the gifts show up under the tree on Christmas morning.

Republicans like Jesse Helms happily took up the name “Know-Nothings”. Originally, the “Know-Nothings” were a group of bigoted anti-Catholic politicians whose strategy — when questioned on the subject — was to insist they “knew nothing”. That’s willful ignorance with a racist, bigoted purpose.

It’s not a coincidence that Republicans describe themselves by and large as more religious than the majority of Americans. That’s “religious” as opposed to “spiritual”. Most Republicans don’t seem to have “spiritual” in their psychological makeup. They like religion for its rules and regulations. And its exclusivity. If you don’t believe what I believe…

And, of course, what they believe is based on Magical Thinking and storytelling. Funny thing? One can be a fan of Jesus — and do unto others every day — without being a member of any church. Why, even a humble atheist can do unto others without contradicting themselves. Doing Unto Others in fact demands that you put DOWN your ignorance.

It’s simple. Republicans are conservative. Conservatives — as their name implies — want to CONSERVE. But conserve what? It ain’t the future — there’s nothing to conserve since it doesn’t exist.

The present? Sure — but only the parts of the present that still hold firmly to the past. That’s what conservatives want to conserve and what Republicans want America to be — what we WERE. For some, it’s a white man’s vision of the 1950’s that only existed in their minds. For the rest, it’s a vision of the 1850’s that’s quite real. That’s what they want to conserve.

To get there, you have to stop taking in any new information. You have to assume that whatever we knew then is still good enough for now. It’s not a coincidence that Republicans by-and-large poo-poo the need for higher education. Hell, a lot of Republicans would be down with letting kids quit school and go to work. They might as well accept their servitude early.

If not for gerrymandering, voter suppression and direct Russian interference, Donald Trump would not be POTUS. The Republicans would not have won all three branches of our govt. Russia had a lot to do with that, too.

The current Republican obstructive tactics are just more of them trying to make ignorance the norm. As the desperation in their arguments makes clear — they know that the more WE know about what they’ve been doing — the worse it will be for them.

Our ignorance is a matter of their survival.

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