Not only have Republicans embraced the power of stupid, they're winning with it

Reagan-Iran-Contra-resizedRemember Ronald Reagan? Republicans recall Ronnie reverently. But in reality? Ronald Reagan was constantly mocked for his stupidity. Same with George W. Bush. While Democrats are certainly not immune from saying or doing stupid things, Republicans far outstrip them in this regard. Oh, you need examples? Sure, here you go:

“The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.” ~ Texas Rep. Steve Stockman

“Wanting a white Republican president doesn’t make you racist, it just makes you American.” ~ Failed Congressional Candidate Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher

“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body.” ~ Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin

“The middle class. Since when in America do we have classes? That’s Marxism talk.” ~ Perennial Presidential contender Rick Santorum

“But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies.” ~ Sarah Palin

It’s hard to comprehend ignorance being held up as a virtue, but Republicans have increasingly been doing just that. How many conservative climate change deniers qualify their rants with, “I’m not a scientist, but…” How many tirades against women’s health have included, “I’m not a doctor, but..”

An excellent example of this can be found in the statements of Arizona Senator Jon Kyl in 2011. He claimed over 90% of Planned Parenthood’s business was abortion related, when in reality the number was actually about 3%. When his error was pointed out, his reply was that his words weren’t meant as a “factual statement.”

Stupidity and ignorance are bad enough on their own, but when applied willfully, they become terribly dangerous. Blocking out reality will only ever result in great harm to a nation and its people. But not only do Republicans refuse to relent with their willing ignorance, they take pride it it.

“If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.” – North Carolina GOP Executive Committee member Don Yelton on NC’s voter ID law

It’s hard to conceive of anyone more dangerous than someone who is proud of their ignorance. This is someone impossible to reason with. They dismiss whatever they don’t want to hear, regardless of whether it’s true or not. They aren’t discussing anything, they’re telling you how they want things. They are absolutely uncompromising, and reality does not sway them. This fits the clinical definition of insanity.

“We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” – Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman on the GOP’s government shutdown

Now this is not a new problem in America, anti-intellectualism has always been around, and isn’t always a bad thing. There’s a charming element to the folksy down-home rhetoric that the ignorant are trying to mirror. The problem lies in taking it too far. You can’t get a diploma recounting old wives tales. You’ll limit your horizons that way, and if you’re an elected official, you’ll limit your nation’s as well.

“When I hear politicians talk about restoring faith in government . . . No, no, no, no, no. That is the wrong solution!” – Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson

Limiting America has very much been the Republican agenda, that much is clear. Mitch McConnell admitted as much when he said the GOP’s primary goal would be to limit President Obama to one term. While they failed at that, conservatives piled up false scandal after false scandal while constantly pumping the brakes on as much progress as they could.

The Midterms told Republicans that their obstructionism was working, so we can expect far more of the same. This has also encouraged Republicans to become far more contrarian. They now go against some of their own interests, should they be proposed in a bill by Democrats. Hell, Mitch McConnell once filibustered himself! That’s because their main interest now is being “anti-Liberal.”

“Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” – Clayton Williams, 1990 Republican candidate for Texas Governor

If the conservative identity is one of being opposed to everything liberal, then that means they must despise anything associated with liberals. As liberalism is aligned with the values of science and reason, conservatives then oppose those values in and of themselves.

And so, conservatives take a contemptuous view of reality, and the proudly ignorant are growing more belligerent daily. No rational conversation on politics is possible, as facts are always overridden by their personal opinions, which are themselves not swayed by reality. A Republican strength is the ability to ridicule a stronger argument, and truth or intelligence isn’t needed for that.

“When you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?” – Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, on Marriage Equality

Rational debate, constructive discourse, even polite conversation becomes impossible. You cannot reach someone considering basic logic as an anathema to them. People like this shouldn’t be anywhere within shouting distance of leadership. Those who willingly reject reality should never have the chance to shape it.

Yet that’s just what is happening. Senator Jim Inhofe wrote a book about climate change being a hoax, and he’s heading up the Environmental Committee. Ted Cruz is in charge of overseeing NASA. Say again, Ted Cruz is in charge of overseeing NASA! This is the same guy who missed the irony of protesting the ACA by reading Green Eggs and Ham.

“When WOMEN got the right to vote is when it all went downhill. Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and uh, maternal instincts.” – Rush Limbaugh

So how are Republicans winning with a strategy of stupid? Similarly to what we’ve written before, it comes down to how there are large numbers of Americans who must deny reality in order to continue on with a conservative mindset. Facts are inconvenient things to them. The truth is too painful for many conservative voters to bear, and this plays right into Republican strategies.

That’s why the GOP consolidates its power through stupidity. They have to. Were their constituents better informed, they would be far less likely to vote against their own best interests. So Republicans play stupid even if they aren’t, and the truly ignorant among them become the stars of the party. It’s a vicious cycle of the obtuse, and it’s not just feeding upon itself, it’s taking everyone else down with it.

“The Great Flood is an example of climate change. And that certainly wasn’t because mankind overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.” ~ Texas Rep. Joe Barton

republican-4-ashamedThe only way to stop this is to stand up to them, and that’s something very few people, especially Democrats, are willing to do. You have to be blunt, and you can’t be polite. The ignorant do not respond to niceties.

“There are many other states that embrace those conservative values, the approach that we’ve taken over the years. I’m in one today, in Florida.” ~ Texas Gov. Rick Perry, delivering a speech in Louisiana

When someone saying they aren’t a doctor or a scientist is talking out of their ass about a subject they are proudly ignorant of, they have to be told to shut the f*ck up. Instead, we are giving them center stage on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows. They need to be schooled, not flattered.

A healthy society relies on a well-educated Electorate. Civilization relies on scientific advancement. Republicans are now actively trying to undermine both of these basic foundations, and if they’re allowed to continue doing so, they will bring the nation crumbling down.

If you exist in a world not based on reality, you will eventually lose to reality. The question is how many other people will you hurt along the way?

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ~ Isaac Asimov

Chad R. MacDonald has a degree in English literature from Cape Breton University and subsequently received a full scholarship to AMDA in New York City. He is a former security professional, veteran of the hospitality industry, and experienced in both the arts as well as administration.He has been writing all his life, likes baseball, hockey, literature, science, the arts, and marine photography.Chad lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.


  1. A reality TV star is called on his lies and he leads the field. In politics, as in nature, what works is selected, and what does not work is weeded out. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our celebrities, but in ourselves.

  2. Lately I’ve been watching “The West Wing” on Netflix (and wondering to myself why I didn’t watch it when it was on broadcast TV), and find myself marveling at just how relevant a lot of it still is. Just last night, I watched a season 3 episode and one of the characters said (paraphrasing), “The Republicans keep lying and the Democrats–instead of calling them out–cower in a corner and say ‘Please don’t hurt me.'”

    Pretty much sums up this essay.

  3. Well, I think you’ve conflated stupidity with outright lies in some case. But the fact is stupidity responds only to the cudgel. Worse than the stupidity is dark stain of fascism running through the current GOP. But then fascists are by nature anti-intellectual because their power rests in being able to sell their lies to an uninformed and dis-informed public. And fascism, like stupidity, only responds to force. I frequently invite right wing trolls to start their little rebellion so I can have the pleasure of putting them where they belong: boxes and cages.

    I founded Regressive Watch based on the ideas presented in this essay. At Regressive Watch we directly confront their stupidity using any means available, especially ridicule, humiliation, shaming. And we embrace confrontation.

  4. Sadly, I appreciated being reminded of the stupid statements that have been made by Republicans over the past few years. Happily, I appreciated the inclusion of Asimov’s cite.

    There is no dearth of Republicans who have made/are making stupid statements down here in the Palmetto State. Second on my all-time list of favorites was Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), who took to the Senate floor two years ago to announce that he was going to introduce a bill mandating that South Carolina establish its own currency. When asked by a friend of mine—a Democratic senator—what he was suggesting be used to support a state currency, Senator Bright suggested “the full faith and credit of the sovereign State of South Carolina.” My friend responded by saying that he doubted there were more than “a handful of folks” who had any faith in the credit of the Palmetto State. Senator Bright then suggested that our new currency could be backed by our “gold reserves.” Fine, except that we don’t have any. The chamber erupted into laughter and the back-and-forth ended.

    First on my all-time list of favorites was a conversation I had in the Main Lobby of the State House with a Republican senator per Governor Haley’s sell-out of any possibilities South Carolina might have had to develop a port presence on the Savannah River—she exchanged those possibilities for a speaking slot at the 2012 GOP National Convention (in a deal with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal). Asking this GOP senator about the thousands of jobs such a port presence would have meant for the poorest counties in our state—Jasper and surrounding counties—he replied that the idea of building a port on the Savannah River was “not tenable anyway because the Savannah simply can’t support major shipping.” I guess he forgot about that port 25 miles up the river at Savannah.

    • It says that they have learned that they can win elections by whoring themselves out to Bubba. Who is Bubba? Bubba loves guns, America, war and Jesus, somewhat in random order, and considers anyone who doesn’t share those beliefs a traitor and/or communist. Bubba hates blacks, Hispanics (all of whom he believes are illegals), Muslims (all of whom he believes are terrorists), liberals, Jews, and gays, even though he associates with none. Bubba’s solution to crime is “shoot ’em”, to conflict in general is “kick their ass” and to international conflict is “kill ’em all; let God sort ’em out.” Bubba believes that every word of the Bible is literal truth, even though he has trouble reading it and understanding many of its words. Bubba wants his tax rate to be none, not realizing that without taxes there is no nation. Bubba doesn’t need ObamaCare as, if he doesn’t feel well, he just goes to an emergency room, whom he then stiffs for their bill. Bubba buys whatever Fox Propaganda sells. Bubba’s highest aspiration is to have a home that is not on wheels and at least one vehicle in its front yard that is. Bubba votes for anyone who will at least
      mouth a promise that he can have his dream of unlimited guns, Fundamentalist Christian theocracy, no taxes and (while it is implied rather than spoken) white supremacy. In other words, Bubba votes Tea Party. The GOP knows this and won in 2014 by promising Bubba to give him what he wants, capitalizing on Bubba’s failure to realize that what they really support is an oligopoly of corporations who outsource his job overseas, dismantle the social safety net that would allow him to survive afterwards and, in total, screw him over. Provided that they continue to be willing to engage in the duplicity and the sacrifice of their core values involved in keeping Bubba in the fold, the GOP will win, the same way, in 2016.

  5. More often than not, stupidity such as the examples given in this article is born from the following scenarios:

    1. Trying to cover an outright lie
    2. Trying to push agenda items that simply do not make sense
    3. The person has no clue, and is just making stuff up

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