Paul Krugman gets his stuff together long enough to point out the real problem in Washington and the economy has to do with anti-science Republicans driving away any semblance of innovation and even rational analysis of America's financial woes. Rick Perry has problems with evolution. Mitt Romney will pretend to have problems with evolution to win the nomination. Jon Hunstman will call the entire GOP out on that and as a result, has no chance in the Neo Know Nothing party.
So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.
And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.
Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?
Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.
But then again, leveraging the power of ignorance is the GOP's greatest strength. It's a terrifying prospect to be sure, but for the growing millions drowning in the sea change of the information economy, passed over by the dizzying speed of technology or locked out of the digital frontier by cost or unavailability in a world where internet access is as important a utility as power, water, and phone, the power of the GOP message remains strong.
"You don't need to be smart to be in charge" is a route that rarely loses. We spent eight years under its aegis and nearly wrecked our country. The lowest common denominator mob is a force to be reckoned with, and for the large part of the country where technology has failed to bring advances past the next gaming system because the cost of wiring the country for the latest technology is prohibitive for telcos and impossible for our austerity-crazy government, it's exactly the prescription they are looking for.
Conservatism, in the classic definition, is hesitant to embrace technology. Why is anyone surprised that the GOP answer to the 21st century is to replay the 19th?