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Mr. Akin and the Apocalypse of the Republican Mind

An Akin can only rise when it no longer matters in political debate whether there are facts on one side and falsities on the other.
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I write today of a natural disaster threatening to do more harm to our future as a democracy than al Qaeda or the Red Threat before that.

We've seen alarming intimations of it for a few decades, but nobody bothered to act. We were all too busy rearranging ourselves around the new wealth gap, falling out of the Disappearing Middle Class into the crater without a net, or, if among the one percent, preoccupied with hiring the best landscaper for the helicopter pad in the back forty.

Now, perhaps, it is simply too late.

I'm talking about the apocalypse of the Republican mind.

Biology? Fallopian tubes do not release eggs to rapist sperm.

Economics? Automatic improvement when rich people pay no taxes.

Criminal science? Guns don't kill people, people kill people, tactical weapons on demand.

Planetary science? Climate change not happening, or if so, God-caused, not anthropogenic.

World geography? Flat.

There was a time within memory when those of us on the left could actually find a smart right-winger with whom to debate. There was William Buckley and his spawn over at the National Review. But they have ceded the podium to the likes of of Akin, Ryan, Bachmann, Karl Rove's astro-turf right-wing populists. And more will follow as Rove disperses the pallets of anti-tax bucks rolling in on the Citizens United ruling.

Rove has always understood a scientific truism, to wit: conservatism attracts dummies. Last summer's Canadian study is one of many finding that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence.

The Canadian study, which analyzed two large scale UK data sets, found: "Lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. " The researchers also looked at the USA. "A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on anti-homosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact."

The conservatives of yore, plummy accents, sneering down the well-educated, flaring nostril, have been defeated not by the left but by the power of stupid, amplified, on steroids.

An Akin can only rise when it no longer matters in political debate whether there are facts on one side and falsities on the other.

The right's devil's bargain with the dumb paid off with elections of W, and Tea Partiers across America in 2010. Smart cynical men like Rove nurtured this little Rosemary's baby of American ignorance, and for a while it served them well. But now it's growing up, getting out of its crib and wreaking havoc in the parlor, threatening to terrify the servants.

Where are the conservatives today who can make a cogent argument about conservative views that doesn't alienate women, blacks, the middle class? Those of us on the left, socialists like me, who relish a good debate, are doomed along with that lost breed. There's no one left with a brain with whom to debate.

Having de-funded American education, bankrupted the treasury with a dumb war, and shredded the safety net, the cynical right has certainly made gains among the ill-educated, who are scientifically predisposed to God, guns, xenophobia, and fear of feminism. There might be just enough sense left in America to reject the flat-earthers this year. But those of us on the left who like a good argument are getting pretty fat and lazy.