(Cross-posted from my blog.)
In my opinion, there is no single entity more responsible for the dumbing down of America and the elevation of willful ignorance than the Republican Party. For decades now, the Republican Party has deliberately stoked fear and prejudice in order to put butts in the voting booth and no ruse has been deemed too ridiculous. (Death panels, anyone?)
For most of the modern era, however, the poor Republican patsies who have propped up the party have gotten next to nothing for their loyalty. They’ve been repeatedly baited to the voting booth by the hot-button issue du jour only to watch the nation continue to progress socially both without them and in spite of them. For instance, they’ve been unable to stop the spread of racial and gender equality; they’ve been unable to stem the tide of real religious freedom; they’ve stood by, helpless, as now even marriage equality rears its shining head in state after state. Time and again, they’ve been used by the cynical suits that run the Republican Party, only to see their ignorant, self-defeating dreams dashed against the rocks.
The so-called Reagan Revolution is now a full generation old and the party faithful have grown weary of their masters’ broken promises, so they’ve taken matters into their own hands. Having been told for years that their myopic views are legitimate, they’ve begun running for office themselves. Now we see state legislatures enthralled to ignorance, Congress stained by it, and even the Republican presidential primary bent and twisted under its weight.
What’s worse, the steaming masses are beginning to exact their pound of flesh. The most obvious examples are the horrifying rollbacks of women’s rights bubbling up in various state legislatures this year. If ignorance, fear, and prejudice continue to hold sway, however, these changes could be but the first of many disastrous steps backward for the United States.
Let me make two things clear before I go any further. First, I welcome real debate about how to solve the challenges that face America and I fervently wish that the Republican Party would help provide that debate. Second, while I do believe that too many Republican voters are astonishingly ignorant, I do not believe most of them to be stupid. And so I make this plea to reasonable Republicans everywhere:
When you hear family members or your fellow party members saying ignorant things, speak up. You have more power to stop this train wreck of ignorance than I will ever hope to have, so, please, speak up. Real democracy cannot long survive a widely uninformed electorate and slippery slopes are often made of little more than silence, so say something.
Ignorance is running rampant among Republicans precisely because it has been cynically legitimized, even celebrated, by the upper eschelons of the party. You can start to undo that and help the rest of us put dangerous ignorance back in its cage. So say something. Do something.