Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Anti-Intellectual Vote

On November 8, 2016, Republican nominee Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. On November 8, 2016, the prophecy of Mike Judge’s 2006’s movie Idiocracy was fulfilled.

Many explanations have been offered to explain the election of a man who – if not actually any of the following things himself – ran a campaign that was racist, xenophobic and misogynistic, and whose vice presidential pick certainly is homophobic. And, both the president- and vice president-elect are climate change deniers. Nearly half of the people voting in the presidential election lapped up the rhetoric like dogs unafraid to eat their own feces.

Why did they eat it up? Why do voters, who by now should be incredibly used to political candidates who don’t fulfil their promises, fall for a candidate who pretends to be anti-establishment while at the same time has benefitted so much from it? Among other things, why would so many voters who are angry about taxes pick a candidate who gamed the system so that he didn’t have to pay taxes himself, that intends to cut taxes for the wealthy and continue to place the tax burden on the middle class? While I can certainly understand a voter’s dislike for Hillary Rodham Clinton given her history of politically and personally questionable judgements, RCH at least offered four more years of the status quo. While not the ideal situation, at least with HRC as president, no one could whine about their guns being taken away or the Second Amendment being repealed and be taken seriously. Why did so many people vote for Donald Trump, an unknown factor, instead of the status quo? Was the status quo really that terrible? Apparently it was…to stupid people.

Donald Trump’s campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again.” Besides never explaining when the U.S. was ever really that great for anyone who wasn’t or isn’t white (much less acknowledging that an American could mean anyone from North- or South America), Trump never vowed to make the U.S. number one in, say, math or science. How can the U.S. be great again if not in education and the resulting benefits? By rehabilitating U.S. manufacturing jobs? Ah, yes, there it is, by making stuff; low-skilled workers making stuff for as long as it is economically in the best interest of a business to do so, at least until robots take over those manufacturing jobs.* Oh, and also by getting unemployed coal workers mining and oil companies drilling again who will aid in flooding the atmosphere with fossil fuel waste because really, air quality is a small price to pay for people not interested in retraining for new jobs, even if it were free. Who refuses free training? Mostly older people who are stubborn and were never good in school, who instead of wanting to make America great again want themselves to be great again at their old job so they can buy a larger screen television from a foreign country.

[*Unsurprisingly, many of the jobs Trump ‘saved’ from going to Mexico at the Indiana-based company Carrier shortly after the election are going to be lost to automation anyway, according to the company itself.]

‘Mericans, as I like to call U.S. citizens, are generally not the most intellectual group. I submit as evidence the fact that the average Trump supporter (who is not the same as a highly paid business person who is a Trump supporter, which would stand to figure) subscribes to conspiracy theories and parrots everything Fox News and say – ‘news’ organizations that are not shy about their conservative skew – while telling you any other news organization that doesn’t validate conspiratorial beliefs is ‘fake news.’ Such people are incapable of analyzing their own biases. The fact that Trump supporters are largely uneducated was confirmed by after the election, who wrote, “Trump’s margin among whites without a college degree is the largest among any candidate in exit polls since 1980. Two-thirds (67%) of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton.” Articles in the journals Reasoning & Thinking and Applied Cognitive Psychology of studies done on intelligence and the conspiracy theorist mindset suggest a direct correlation between a lack of education and a vulnerability to the very wayward thinking modern Republicanism espouses. Summed up by Tania Bombrozo, “Among other things, studies find that people are more likely to endorse conspiracy theories if they feel alienated, powerless and disadvantaged, and if they are distrustful of others. Conspiratorial thinking is also associated with narcissism, rejection of climate science, and an individual's own willingness to participate in conspiracies. Additionally, a variety of demographic factors have been found to predict conspiratorial thinking, including low levels of education.” (Emphasis added.) It is also certainly a uniquely common human trait for people to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions, which also helps explain the denial of the human contribution to climate change and an aversion science in general. As either a cause or a symptom, the U.S. currently ranks 27th in math and 20th in science among developed nations, so I suppose no one should be too surprised Trump won. Being 27th in math, one wonders if ‘Mericans can even count that high.

Clearly ‘Mericans cannot do math as Trump supporters fail to understand taxes and Trump’s proposed wall between Mexico and the U.S. for example. During his campaign, Trump vowed to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and make Mexico pay for it to boot, seeing how Mexico is ‘not sending their best.’* There is no doubt that Mexico is not going to pay for a wall between the two countries, so one is compelled to wonder where that money is going to come from. By Trump’s own estimate, he said that the wall would cost anywhere from $8-to$12 billion to construct and have Mexico at least help defer the cost by strong-arming them into paying $5 billion a year in order to help keep the estimated $24 billion going to Mexico from the U.S., remittance from supposed illegal aliens sending money back ‘home.’ So where else is the money going to come from? There’s no choice but to have it come from taxpayers. And who pays the lion’s share of taxes in ‘Merica? The middle class. So for any middle class person who voted for Trump to complain about what their taxes pay for (or would pay for), well, they shouldn’t – at all. Of course, in the ensuing analysis after Trump said this about a wall, Trump has proposed using money saved from enforcing the border – which means spending more tax money on enforcement – and/or by using money saved by not giving benefits to immigrants who are in ‘Merica illegally – which again comes out of taxpayer money. The president-elect has even proposed using assets seized from drug cartels to pay for a wall but there is no clear numbers in this regard and there is no indication that there’s enough money along that avenue to pay for such a build. In all likelihood, if a wall is built, it will surely not be a concrete structure such as Trump has proposed but something much more cheap, perhaps made in China, but most ‘Mericans are used to being cheap. In the end, though, Trump’s supporters don’t care about a wall actually being built; they just like that he proposed it. So goes the thinking of minds attuned to reality television, people who know what they’re watching isn’t real but want to see people come into conflict nonetheless.

[‘…not sending their best’? Meanwhile, the forthcoming First Lady is an immigrant so lazy she has to have Trump’s daughter assume several traditionally First Lady duties and plagiarized a Michelle Obama speech at the Republican National Convention. But, hey, at least she’s white.]

Speaking of China, the uneducated white middle class that elected Trump think their man can do no wrong in provoking a possible trade war with a country holding over a trillion dollars of U.S. debt. (China used to hold the most U.S. debt but now that country is Japan, whom Trump will nuclear bomb before they can ever call in their markers.) As everyone knows, or should know, the trade relation between China and the ‘Merica has been a love-hate affair. Damn those Chinese for making cheap crap but GOD do’ Mericans buy up that cheap crap (to include all those Trump “Make America Great Again” hats, not to mention his ties, suits, etc.*). Despite having wrote in 2005 that outsourcing overseas is not always a bad thing, Trump ran a campaign on promises to bring jobs ‘back to ‘Merica by imposing heavy tariffs on imported good. Of course, those tariffs will probably not apply to Trump’s goods manufactured overseas, but I digress. Imagine if you will the price of goods made in ‘Merica for ‘Mericans. Even if the costs didn’t skyrocket – which would be shocking since most of ‘Mericans beloved items like cars and smartphones require materials from outside the U.S. – ‘Merica would never be able to see their goods sold overseas because of tit-for-tat tariffs. Why would another country want to buy ‘Merican goods anyway? While China and Mexico are derided for making cheap goods, ‘Merica isn’t known for manufacturing the most reliable stuff. Sure, the U.S. does make good motorcycles (Harley Davidson), fun movies (thanks liberal Hollywood!), craft beer (thanks blue states!) and weapons (that figures), China surpassed U.S. manufacturing output back in 2010 and shows no signs of slowing down. For the U.S. to turn that around, ‘Mericans would need to make higher end crap that everyone wants which just might take better education, something Republicans surely do not want, at least not before a good dose of mindless theism is injected into the educational system.

(*For an incomplete and not even detailed list of all Trump’s products made overseas and not in the U.S, click here.)

Understanding of the U.S. Constitution was also one of the casualties of the largely Republican war on education. In order to protect their guns from being taken away no matter how many mass shootings occur and by whom (usually white people), gun lobbyists often call for a literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution while never minded that most gun owners are not part of a well-regulated militia. Nevermind that President Obama never took anyone’s beloved guns away – he actually eased some key gun legislation, but whatever – Trump ideologues are quick to invoke the Second Amendment anytime someone proposes new gun legislation. (I, for one, don’t think it would help end mass shootings, but that’s beside the point here.) However, the same people are not so quick to invoke the Constitution when it comes to Trump and his overseas holdings, which the Constitution clearly states in Article I, Section 9 he cannot have if he’s to be president. Many Trump supporters would also like to see Christianity established as the official religion of the U.S., much to the chagrin of the very first amendment. Maybe Trump can start to make ‘Merica great again but having people understand the documents the country is founded upon.

One has to wonder who the people voting for Trump are who intend to make America great again, but do not intend to make America great again like it was during WWII when it helped defeat a hellbent, racist dictator. (History, another casualty in ‘Merican edumacation.) Trump’s vast numbers of white supporters are hellbent themselves to stand in the street or in a subway car to turn red in the face as they berate a minority. They refuse to understand the basis for the Black Lives Matters movement and decry it, but want to receive special attention themselves through the acknowledgement of, say, a Christian ruling class. One has to wonder who these people are that claim not to be racist, but remain silent on Trump’s KKK support while simultaneously demanding that Muslims be more outspoken against Islamic terrorism. One has to wonder who the people are that defend misogynistic talk as the locker room bantering of an immature 55 year old who has miraculously ‘matured’ over the past 15 years. Bill Clinton may have abused his power in having an affair with Monica Lewinski, but even ol’ horndog Bill was never so crass. One has to wonder who these Trump supporters are that bemoaned Obama’s lack of political experience who now suddenly cite a lack of experience as what they like about their candidate who appoints a brain surgeon to serve as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. One has to wonder who these voters were that saw Russia as an enemy before Trump rose to prominence but who have been heaping praise upon Putin ever since Trump’s victory. Who are these people that think so lazily they think they’re going to make ‘Merica great again?

To be fair, Trump supporters are not the only ones who are negligent when it comes to critical thinking; the Regressive Left is just as bad. Their constant and vehement anti-white rhetoric resulted in a backlash they didn’t see coming because of their own failure to consider consequences. With these two sides coming together within the boundaries of a single country, is it any wonder ‘Merica is so dysfunctional? No, no one who remotely thinks is surprised by the election of a business man by the grace of the lower classes he cares nothing about and has benefitted from stepping on. A thinker may be angry that this is the case, but it’s still the reality of the situation. And the reality of the situation is that the new administration will be coming for the thinkers first. Oh, wait, they already have; climate change denier Trump requested the names of 74 climate scientists from the energy Department and for the time being has been rebuked. ‘Merica should have expected nothing less in a country where education isn’t a priority, that heaps rewards upon people for their ability to manipulate or delude others, upon celebrities who have little or no talent, or on athletes for playing a game.

As usual, things will get worse before they get better, though really ‘Merica will have to wait and see what happens after Trump is sworn in. An intellectual can say that and mean it and be forgiven for hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Naturally, that’s not what happened before Obama was sworn in. It’s still not what’s happening even as Obama prepares to leave office; the President’s detractors would still see him lynched and his wife back in Africa living with apes. And that’s what is to be expected from small minds – horrible consequences – not a great country.

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