The Evolution Of Elections - Intelligent Design Debunked genre: Hip-Gnosis & Nouveau Thoughts & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
As we move closer to the election, I've witnessed a phenomena that has only recently begun to make sense to me (by the fact that it doesn't make sense). First, I have to hand it to my Republican friends...their tenacity in creating tangible talking points out of thin air is unmatched.
Let me provide an example before I attempt to draw the connection between the manner in which they analyze and strategize elections and the predisposition of some Christians to promote intelligent design over evolution.
Over at the National Review, flummoxed politicos are desperate to craft a salient narrative to leverage John McCain back into a position to win the election. What they fail to realize is that their lurching from one idea to the next is simply supporting the Obama mantra that John McCain and the GOP are erratic. Take a look at the following.
I have no idea whatsoever if there's merit to this, and if there is how much merit, but lots of email like this:
When are people going to start talking about the REAL reason the markets are down - Obama up in polls. If I was McCain, I'd start telling people, "If you want to lose more money, vote Obama."
Now, it's far more likely that the causation and correlation suggested by some readers is backward: the markets tank for non-political reasons and Obama does well as a result, rather than Obama does well and then the markets tank. Still, I think Pethokoukis' point that Obama's success may make investors more pessimistic about the future has some plausibility to it.
Finally, it sounds like this reader has it right (and I should correct a bunch of emailers who seem to think I was suggesting McCain blame Obama for the crashing markets, which I think would be ludicrous).
The suggestion that markets are down because of Obama's rising in the polls shows a preposterous misunderstanding of economics, and McCain will be (rightly) pilloried if he tries to make that claim. I have no doubt Obama will be an utter disaster for business and economic growth/recovery in this country, but the markets are reacting to fact that unemployment is way up (and climbing), manufacturing numbers are way down, housing prices are still falling, credit has seized up, overnight funding is near impossible to acquire at anything but prohibitive cost, there continue to be real questions as to the solvency of financial institutions and their nightmarish balance sheets, etc. Just about every piece of data that comes back these days is negative, with the exception of falling commodity prices and a strengthening dollar, as Kudlow correctly mentioned last week. Companies growth prospects in this kind of environment are bleak at best, and the markets are reacting in kind. In addition, the ban on short selling of financials rolled off today, so some of the downward pressure that had built up over the past week released itself today.
We'll reach a bottom of the market eventually, however--and I mean no disrespect to the previous e-mailer you quoted below--it's naïve to suggest the continued hammering we're all taking has anything material to do with the political zeitgeist.
OK, to argue that the ascension of Obama in the polls is responsible for our crashing financial system requires the suspension of reality. Now in fairness, I have to note that Jonah, in his second posting, dismisses the notion offered by the emailer in his prior posting. At the same time, this has seemingly become standard operating procedure for my friends on the right. Again, there's no fault in testing trial balloons; though there is folly in releasing the ones that don't merit a moments consideration. Doing so gives them an air of legitimacy that fosters more of the same.
Here's the problem...all too often GOP operatives establish an outcome (the preferred fact or belief) and then they create a hypothesis to support it. Clearly this isn't out of the ordinary with regards to scientific study. Virtually every hypothesis has at its origin some level of belief that it may be true, which leads to its testing. The problem with many on the right is that their bias and partiality leads them to corrupt the construct in order to rig the results. In other words, the scientific method is an acceptable construct when it yields the preferred result. Should it refute the optimal outcome, the kitchen sink must be tossed at it in order to discredit it.
That brings me to the connections between those who oppose the theory of evolution in favor of creationism or its most recent stepchild, intelligent design, and those who would put forth an intellectually dishonest explanation to further their political objectives.
Let me be clear, it's a free country and we're all entitled to attempt to influence others with whatever arguments we choose to employ. The problems arise when the credible and convincing means to measure the validity of a theory are cast aside in deference to ideological intransigence. You see, when an individual can dissect the Bible into those portions they accept and those segments they set aside...all the while maintaining the infallibility of the process and the indisputable nature of the conclusion...fiction has been elevated to a level commensurate with fact.
Even worse, there is no rational or reasonable means to compel these believers to abandon their arbitrary assertions in favor of a fact driven formula. Once this rejection of reasonability is rejected relative to religion, the distance to its dissolution with regards to other disciplines is easily abridged. In the field of politics, once dogma is allowed to dethrone dutiful deduction, extremism is enabled.
Hence, the efforts to assign arbitrary attributes to Barack Obama is the epitome of embracing this elusive equation. Not only does this promote discord, it precludes its resolution. Before it can be corrected, the quintessential question must focus upon uncovering the underlying motivations.
As I watch John McCain and his minions grapple with the prospect of defeat...and the fear that imparts...it supports my suspicion that terror management is at the core of our conundrum. Terror management posits that we humans are prone to obsessing upon the fear of our mortality and acting to diminish it.
As such, religion and the promise of an afterlife is a strategy to assuage the anxiety. Those predisposed to acting from fear are therefore susceptible to strategies that allow irrational ideations to override objective analysis. When confronted with fearful events, the instinctual reaction is to resort to the suspension of reason in order to construct a place of comfort.
Unfortunately, this behavior has an "imprinting" quality such that it is self-reinforcing the longer it persists. In the political realm, it is manifested in a refusal to allow or applaud alternate avenues of governance. The Clinton presidency is an excellent example. There is little doubt that his tenure was a period of relative peace and prosperity...and yet many on the right refuse to recognize as much. These individuals often argue that the time a president is seated in office isn't the essential measure of his merit...or they prioritize other considerations...such as morality in the case of Clinton.
Here's the problem. This approach isn't applied consistently. Ronald Reagan receives credit for his time in office as well as for a number of ensuing years. Questions of morality, such as his having been married twice and his silence on the AIDS epidemic, are ignored. Shades of gray are danger zones and the pursuit of black and white...regardless of either's availability...is the ultimate safe haven from which to view the world. With the passage of time, the GOP and its pliable and therefore palatable propaganda becomes the only amenable world view...facts be damned.
Doubt is equated with death and it must, therefore, be banished. Science, though seemingly certain, is still too slow in providing a palatable domicile from which to proceed. To embrace it is to risk the possibility that one's earthly existence could end before it can afford acceptable answers to free one from fear. A retreat to the malleability of irrational ideations is the only avenue by which one can construct an illusory and idyllic island, insulated from the unmovable manifestation of mortality.
Death is certain; political suicide is optional. Come into the light my GOP friends...I promise it won't kill you. Besides, you'll still have heaven as a backup, right?