There’s a disconnect between conservatives and progressives in this country, and I think that disconnect results from an “intellect OFF” switch on the conservative end of it. Today’s conservatism requires not just that one answer any policy question incorrectly, but that one choose an answer that is the opposite of correct. The breadth of issues to which this principle applies is breathtaking. Take the quiz below to see whether you suffer from Republicanism. (You’ll get some feedback at the end.)
1. Unlike Iraq, which is divided into factions and lacks the tribal integration vital to nationhood, Iran is a largely homogeneous population sharing a common religion (they’re 90% or more Shiite Muslims), culture, and history. Iranians like one another. Iran is a technologically sophisticated state with a larger population, more resources, and a significantly more potent military than Iraq had when George W Bush dragged the whole planet through an oedipal chase after phantom weapons of mass destruction. Unlike Iraq, Iran is capable of diffusing extremist violence regionally or even globally. A war with Iran would make Republican misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq look like the invasion of Grenada in 1983 (our military walkover – hilariously dubbed “Operation Urgent Fury” – of an undefended Caribbean outpost). During the George W Bush administration, Iran developed the substructure for a robust nuclear weapons program. President Obama inherited that situation, fashioned crippling international sanctions against Iran, and forced Iranians to the negotiating table. The best approach from there would be to
a. Negotiate from a position of strength, reach an agreement under which Iran dismantles its own nuclear weapons program, and let our scientists monitor Iran’s compliance.
b. Walk away from the international sanctions coalition and start a war with Iran.
2. Climate scientists (at least 97% of them) warn that the planet is warming at an accelerated pace. We know this because we have newfangled gadgets called thermometers that we can read – we can even put them out in the water on a modern contraption called a buoy. These scientists have shown, using something called observable measurements, that manmade carbon emissions are the primary culprit. These emissions, in turn, are caused primarily by human consumption of fossil fuels. We should
a. Develop a global strategy to reduce carbon emissions and slow the destruction of the planet.
b. Call scientists heretics, confess ignorance about science generally, and drill baby drill!
3. The financial collapse of 2008-2009 was caused by the deregulation of banks and other financial lenders, which used their unrestrained wiles (and the entreaties of a President bent on some “home-ownership society”) to bilk the working poor into unsustainable loan arrangements and make billions on worthless paper in transactions called “credit default swaps” and the like. The best response to this situation would be to
a. Carefully regulate banks and financial institutions, track bad practices and predatory lending, and prosecute financial predators.
b. Further deregulate Wall Street to preserve “freedom and liberty.”
4. The US is the most violent “advanced” country in the world. Mass shootings are commonplace, and gun violence is rampant. The solution is
a. Sensible gun regulations that would make it harder for the wrong people to have guns and might reduce the number of guns on the streets.
b. More guns.
5. The US Supreme Court has ruled that gay people are allowed to get married: they are given license to make their own choices and live their own lives unrestrained by the government. This ruling is most fairly characterized as one that
a. Bestows freedom, liberty, and dignity.
b. Imposes tyranny and oppression.
6. It is commonly understood (and affirmed by experts and academics) that demand drives macroeconomic development (it even drives supply). Demand is generated by consumption: by people deciding to pay for goods and services. Consumption, in turn, is driven by wages: people, especially at the lower end of the economic spectrum, tend to spend what they earn. Given these unassailable economic principles, the national government should
a. Foster policies that drive up wages, create demand, and drive economic growth.
b. Give tax cuts to the filthy rich so they can stash the money in overseas accounts.
7. Speaking of demand, the demand for cheap labor also drives the supply of cheap labor – especially the supply of undocumented immigrant workers anxious to labor for pay. The best immigration policy would be to
a. Target employers of undocumented workers.
b. Build a replica of the Great Wall of China (or an analog to the Maginot Line) on the southern border in the hopes that would-be Mexican emigres won’t find out that the USA has shorelines, too.
8. “Dreamers” is the word used to describe the grown children of undocumented immigrants. These are people who came to the US with their parents as toddlers and have now grown up as Americans. They are fluent in English (often only in English), have completed high school, studied in American colleges, and served in the US military. The morally correct approach to “Dreamers” is to
a. Expedite their transition to full citizenship in the US.
b. Send them back to the countries their parents came from.
9. The US has had an African American president for almost 7 years. He has conducted himself with elegance, dignity, and good judgment. He will leave this country far better than he found it by and objective measure. The appropriate response to this development is to
a. Celebrate the cultural and social progress our country has made and its burgeoning cultural diversity.
b. Take our country back from “the Other.”
10. With regard to any complicated question about domestic or foreign policy, the best people to consult when formulating policy would be
a. Scholars, academics, scientists, and experts.
b. God-fearing, ‘Merican, Old-Testament “Christians.”
If you answered “b” once, you might be a Republican. If you answered “b” twice, you are probably a Republican. If you answered “b” 3 or more times, you are definitely a Republican.