You Can’t Fix Stupid, Part 1 … Woodstock’s version.
I find the broad brush maligning of the Democrats as “liberals” or “left-wing extremists” and Republicans as “right-wing extremists” tiresome, anti-intellectual rhetoric. As far as Rush Limbaugh goes, he’s just a blowhard that is in it only to feed his ego and his pocketbook. The only extremists I can think of are the almost extinct registered members of the KKK, American Nazi Party (do they still exist?), and ‘like-minded people’ (the people that Powers prefers). Some extremists acting alone, like Timothy McVey, were just warped. Maybe I’m naïve. Don’t hesitate to straighten me out on this point if I have missed something.
Certainly our current President and past Presidents, and all Vice Presidents, do not fit into any extremist category left-wing or right-wing. Since both Obama and Bush II were elected by close to 50% of the voters, doesn’t this fact validate them both as near the middle? Barry Goldwater, Republican Presidential candidate in 1964, got only a third of the vote so maybe he’s the most extreme presidential candidate we’ve had (remember he said “In your heart you know I’m right”), but I don’t think of George McGovern, Democratic Presidential candidate in 1972, as even close to being an extreme liberal even though the only state he won was Massachusetts. In many ways, if he had been elected McGovern would have faced similar problems that Obama is facing today – an unwanted war and an oil crisis. I often think of McGovern’s failed election because of a map of the states with one blue state that proudly stated “We Nixed Nixon!” next to the bar in an Irish Pub just off of Cambridge Square. I voted for McGovern and believe that if he had been elected, things would have gone much better for the country in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. I don’t think that extremists have played any significant role in our society in the last 40 years.
What has played a significant role in our society is stupidity – that is, the stupidity of the electorate and the people who don’t vote for no reason at all except apathy … although if people don’t vote because they are apathetic, I would just as soon leave them out of the decision making. It’s the stupid voters that are the problem. Some of these stupid people have normal or above average IQs but they are stupid because of their biases and prejudices that prevent them from assessing facts and evidence with sound reasoning and judgment.
The stupidity of the electorate is best demonstrated by their election of Nixon in 1968 and Bush II in 2002. Before these elections took place, I was in disbelief that either Nixon or Bush could get elected. In Nixon’s case his candidacy (and his nolo contendre VP) was bolstered by the grinding of the Vietnam War and the growing unpopularity of Johnson who showed his appendectomy scar to the nation.
“During a time of war in Southeast Asia when the stakes for this nation were great, Humphrey confronted an agonizing choice: whether to remain loyal to his president or to the dictates of his conscience. His failure to reconcile these powerful claims cost him the presidency. Yet few men, placed in his position, could have walked so agonizing a tightrope over so polarized a nation.
Near the end of his long career, an Associated Press poll of one thousand congressional administrative assistants cited Hubert Humphrey as the most effective senator of the preceding fifty years.” This comes from here.
But the nation went crazy in 1968 with the assassinations of Martin Luther King (April 4th) and Bobby Kennedy (June 5th/6th) which was followed by riots and the burning of several inner cities. At the Democratic Convention protesters of the Vietnam War and several notable newsmen were beaten up by the Chicago police and this was all viewed on nationwide TV (a scene not unlike Iran today). So Nixon was elected with 43.4% of the vote to a close 42.7% for Humphrey, while George Wallace garnered 13.5% of the vote (stupid people). Electoral vote-wise it wasn’t even close though (see the first map on the left).
Left to right electoral maps for the 68 election, 72 election, 76 election, and the 80 election, respectively (click on the maps to see them full size):
The travesty of Nixon’s first term is that even more stupid people elected him for a second term while he and Kissinger lengthened the Vietnam War by another 4 years using the absurd slogin “Peace with Honor.” Read the rest of this entry »