Chris Matthews thinks it’s left vs. right, but it’s not; it’s sane vs. insane

The corporate media, which is about as “liberal” as Edmund Burke, has been so beaten down by right-wing bellyaching about an imagined “liberal bias” in the press that it is incapable of covering the unprecedented implosion of a modern American political party without suggesting that whatever afflicts Republicans is somehow endemic on both sides of the political divide. hardball_l_0 Witness this drivel from Chris Matthews:

I think the headline for the day is “the center cannot hold” to quote Yeats.The center isn’t holding in American politics today. The center right isn’t holding. We’ll see if the center left and Hillary Clinton will hold as well. It seems the poles are winning, the poles of right and left are winning the arguments, getting the press. The fact that Trump is on the television set every night, free media, that he is the best show in town, is really a reflection that the house of representatives, particularly has dropped the ball… The center didn’t hold today and the forces of the right and the left are starting to look interesting and that’s a problem.

What on earth does the Republican meltdown have to do with “the left”?  Last I checked, Democrats had a party leader; that would be the sitting President of the United States.  There is no tumult in either the House or the Senate on the Democratic side; Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, respectively, are in charge.  And there is no Democratic equivalent to the Republican presidential clown car; whatever aspersions one might cast at Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, they are not cognitively and intellectually addled.

I will write more about this later, because it deserves a more thorough treatment: in its insistence that there exists a national divide between left and right, the media is all wrong.  The real divide is between rationalists on one side and, on the other side, what I will call the wheyfaces.  That word — wheyfaces — captures the two primary markers of a modern Republican: white and scared shitless.

Most liberals are rationalists.  Although rationalism and empiricism are often characterized as opposites, I don’t see it that way.  While empiricists (those who rely only on observable phenomenon and eschew logical truths or inferences) might reject rationalism, the opposite is not true.  Most rationalists value empirical evidence as a necessary starting point in policy making.  But rationalists also rely on logic and reason — most notably deductive reasoning, pursuant to which one applies accepted principles to neutral facts to reach valid conclusions.  Here is an example of deductive logic:

  • If something causes emotional pain and turmoil, then it should be avoided.
  • Abortion causes emotional pain and turmoil.
  • So abortion should be avoided.
  • If something causes abortion, it should be avoided.
  • Unwanted pregnancies cause abortion.
  • So unwanted pregnancies should be avoided.
  • If something prevents unwanted pregnancies, it should be available.
  • Contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies.
  • So contraceptives should be available.

This is how sane and rational people think.  Moral dogmatists, on the other hand, get their rules from hidebound holy books and ignore facts altogether.  So even though there is no rational reason for opposing the provision of contraceptives, conservatives oppose contraceptives anyway.

Republicans, when they propose and seek to implement policies, are not driven by empirical evidence and reason; they are driven by acute fear.  A liberal engages the part of the brain that calculates and parses information while a conservative engages the “lizard brain”: that part of the brain (it’s called the amygdala) that drives anxiety and panic.  So while a liberal is concerned with actual threats — like global warming, sagging economic demand, bigotry, and international overreach, a conservative is preoccupied with imagined or perceived threats — like the gays, brown people, and endless conspiracies, domestic enemies, and foreign menaces.

Republican thinking is so grossly irrational that it results in beliefs like these:

  • Minorities oppress the majority.
  • Religious liberty means the freedom to impose one’s religion on others.
  • As to the unborn and the already born, the unborn must be protected, but the already born are on their own.
  • We get scientific facts from the Bible, and scientific theory reflects blind faith.
  • The federal government exists to stop the federal government.
  • Guns have nothing to do with gun violence.

Only in the mind of a teabagger could the President be a Muslim and an Atheist, a communist and a Nazi, a fearless tyrant and a spineless coward — all at the same time.

So the divide in this country is not really between the left and the right: it’s between the sane and the insane.  And in the case of one party and only one party — the Republican Party — the inmates are running the asylum.

by Brendan Beery


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