Right-Wing Polemics Are Poisoning Political Discourse
I’ve been writing a series of posts looking at the widespread failure of reason and evidence to play their historical roles as the foundations for legitimate policy deliberation. It’s a complex problem that demands an interdisciplinary approach, and so far I’ve considered the issue from the points of view of cognitive psychology and anthropology.
I think one issue that we have to take seriously is the degree to which right wing political actors have intentionally stoked the fires of an extreme paranoia and hostility toward the left, which has been instrumental in fueling the rancorous polarization of the last several years. It would be mere equivocation to suggest there is anything approaching the following statement by Rush Limbaugh in 2009 in the mainstream of the left:
You know, folks, the two universes here — The Universe of Lies, The Universe of Reality — they don’t overlap anymore. And this is even bigger than global warming, which was my point yesterday. It’s about everything that the left is involved in. What this fraud, what the uncovering of this hoax exposes, is the corruption that exists between government and academia and science and the media. Science has been corrupted. We know the media has been corrupted for a long time. Academia has been corrupted. None of what they do is real. It’s all lies! It is all oriented toward a political outcome. It’s bigger than global warming. And of course science has been corrupted here. Science is being used for political purposes.
It always has been, but this is a new low — or a new high, depending on your perspective. But what they have done here is now make it reasonable to doubt everything some scientist says who gets government money from somewhere. And if you know what’s good for you, if you know that they’re leftists, you won’t believe anything they say any time, anywhere, about anything. Their ideas are so hideous, are so insidious, so anti-free market, that they have to dress their ideas up in a phony cloak of compassion: Saving the planet, saving the polar bears, saving the water, saving the earth, saving whatever it is. “Saving the poor,” while they destroy the poor. It just infuriating. So we have now the Four Corners of Deceit, and the two universes in which we live. The Universe of Lies, the Universe of Reality, and The Four Corners of Deceit: Government, academia, science, and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That’s how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.
These people aren’t kidding, folks – I first came across this quote on a climate change denial site which cites it approvingly.
For decades, we’ve been living in world where people like Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and Karl Rove have been sounding a constant refrain that liberals are not just wrong, they are evil and uniquely destructive.
The GOP has been greasing the tracks for the last thirty years, and Trump is just the train that happened to come along.