stoking the fear furnace

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National Journal explains how Ebola makes conservatives more conservative and asks, "So why are conservatives so concerned about the southern border in the wake of Ebola? Psychology has an answer:"

According to mounting psychological research, liberals tend to be open to new experiences, while conservatives seek to protect what they already have. Often these mind-sets result in political clashes. But the tension between liberal brains and conservative brains makes sense for survival. There are times when it's important to discover new things, and there are times when it's important to avoid dangers. The tension between those two strategies is what has fueled human political conflict for millennia as groups argue over how a society should be run. But it has also kept us alive.

Through this evolutionary lens, conservatism is a strategy to protect a society from harm from both outsiders and diseases. Ebola hits this exact conservative nerve--it's a deadly disease from a foreign country. Ebola is activating all the evolutionary alarms of the conservative mind.

This morning's news that a second Dallas nurse contracted the virus will certainly accelerate the drive to demonization and xenophobia. It's not the constant Chicken-Little demeanor of conservatism that's the problem--it's that they're always worried about the wrong things. Liberia needs more body bags (not to mention 1 million more suits and masks, as well as 2 million more gloves), but the GOP's border fixation will worsen the crisis. They can read a chart of exponential growth of Ebola infections,

20141014-ebola.jpg

but an impending climate catastrophe elicits reactions such as outright denial, creating conspiracy theories, or aggressively deliberate increases in pollution (such as those "rolling coal" cretins):

20141015-environment.png

Infinitesimal numbers of fraudulent votes stoke Republicans' fears, but untold thousands of votes suppressed warrant no concern whatsoever. "In many cases," he continues, "these beliefs are no doubt quite sincere. However, the sincerity of a belief has no relevance to its truth:"

Republicans have argued for voter ID laws by contending that they will prevent fraud. However, investigation of voter fraud has shown only 31 credible cases out of one billion ballots. As such, this sort of fraud does occur--but only at an incredibly low rate...the evidence is that the laws that are allegedly aimed at preventing voter fraud actually serve as voter suppression measures, mostly aimed at minority voters.

It would seem that the laws and policies allegedly aimed at voter fraud would not reduced the existing fraud (which is already miniscule) and would have the effect of suppressing voters. As such, these laws and proposals fail to protect the rights of voters and instead are a violation of that basic right. In short, they are either a misguided and failed effort to prevent fraud or a wicked and potentially successful effort to suppress minority voters. Either way, these laws and policies are a violation of a fundamental right of the American democracy.

It's this sort of barely-disguised underhandedness that leads Salon to ask whether their fear-mongering is a
"cynical turnout strategy:"

Some 56 percent of Americans say the government is prepared to handle Ebola, including 61 percent of Democrats. But that number is flipped on its head when you ask Tea Party voters: 57 percent of them say the government is not prepared, as do 54 percent of rural voters. So two core components of the GOP red-state base coalition don't trust the federal government, in the person of President Obama, to keep them safe - and there's some political opportunity for Republicans in those numbers.

Republicans have "a generic two point lead over Democrats in the coming midterm elections, 46-44," but:

Democrats are leading Republicans in among registered voters in the top-11 Senate races, 47 percent to 42 percent. So Democrats should expect losses, but it's still not looking like a wave year. Unless Republicans can use Ebola and ISIS to drive out their voters, and Democratic voters stay home.

It seems more and more like strategic ignorance at work...

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on October 15, 2014 11:57 AM.

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