If we as a nation take one thing away from the 2012 election it should be apparent that there is a large portion of the population that simply does not function within the confines of reality. If you know me, you know that I am pretty non-conformist, and I certainly do not believe in what society defines as “normal”. In short, we are all entitled to our own beliefs, our own opinions, but not our own reality or facts.
That being said I think what has been happening (and what continues to happen) is that people are forgetting that while we are all free to think what we want, there are some Universal Truths that apply across the board. This was not more apparent than in the presidential election results. While geniuses like Nate Silver used math and statistical analysis to nail the election results pretty much dead on, there was a large portion of the right-leaning media that insisted the facts were not the facts.
Seriously – Fox News had Mittens winning the election by a BIG margin. Guys like Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Sean Hannity, and Newt Gingrinch – The “intellectuals” of the GOP, all had Romney in front despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. Their reasoning? They just “felt” it. Their “guts” told them that the polls that have always been pretty accurate were “biased” because quite frankly, they just didn’t say what they wanted them to say. These guys went as far as to make up their own polls. Seriously.
Can you imagine going through life thinking like this? If reality doesn’t suit you, just change the facts! Just choose not to believe them. Now EVERYTHING that you don’t like becomes a conspiracy – It becomes a lie. Evidence be damned, it’s not what I want to hear so… I won’t hear it. The problem with this denial of Universal Truth is that it prevents sane, rational people from finding a place of common ground. You can’t reason with a crazy person.
When I say Universal Truth I’m talking about things that are indisputable. I’m talking about death and taxes inevitability. The Earth is not flat… Or is it?
No… It’s not. However, the fact that we put people on TV who think like this DOES make me question evolution.
This is my point: Why is nobody calling ignorant people on being ignorant? Why is this level of stupidity allowed to continue? How do you think Barbara Walters feels as one of the most respected and intelligent woman journalists in history to sit next to a person who can’t answer “Do you think the Earth is flat?” with any degree of certitude? Look, I’m all for respecting the opinions of people who think differently than I do. If I walked around telling people that the sun revolved around the Earth, I’d expect somebody to politely sit me down and ask if I had a learning disability.
Things are not going to improve until we as a collective start discrediting stupid people. I don’t say that to be mean, I say that in the name of the human race continuing to evolve. Sometimes YOUR opinion is flat out wrong, and should NOT be treated with anything resembling the same level of validity as the RIGHT opinion. This is not a Coke vs. Pepsi argument – It’s a “Hey, the climate has been changing a lot lately” argument. Now, if YOU look at rising tides, melting glaciers and extreme weather events and go, “Nope, that’s just a myth” you should be flogged. If you want to argue WHY the climate is changing, that’s a valid discussion. If you want to deny that mankind is contributing to the scientific evidence – That’s also acceptable. To walk around and pretend that the world is flat when we KNOW that it’s not is just insanity.
That’s why there is gridlock: You can’t reason with people who think that the Earth is flat. It doesn’t make them bad people, it just makes them less-informed, and there is nothing wrong with that. I invested a LOT of time and effort into making sure that I got the election results pretty close (I hit 50 of 51 races, only missing Florida) because I had the time to do so. A married mother of 3 working 2 jobs probably isn’t reading as much about polling averages as I was, and I would never in a million years think that I was smarter/better than her as a result. I WOULD say that I was better informed, which isn’t a BAD thing. The travesty is when people who we look to for help with the “dirty work” of understanding important issues like the election, we find that those “experts” that we trust to help us make educated choices are lying to us.
To close, I offer some advice. If you don’t know what you are talking about, that is fine. Let me say it again: It’s OK for you to not know something. Here’s what you do: You LEARN the answer. You don’t learn the answer by talking to people who tell you the answer you want, you learn that by learning the RIGHT answer. If you want to believe that Romney lost the election because of Hurricane Sandy you aren’t looking at the FACTS that had the polls numbers holding steady through September, October, AND November. In short, if the election was October 6 instead of November 6, the result would have been pretty much the same.
So you have a choice: You can continue to make up your own answers. You can only digest the answers that you want. When people insist that your answers are wrong, you can claim conspiracies, or liberal bias.
Or… You can become a realist. You can say, “Wow… I got duped and I feel kind of silly for listening to people who aren’t very bright. Maybe since the “liberal media” was dead on they know something that I don’t? Maybe I should listen to some different sources to make a more informed decision in the future. Maybe it’s NOT a big conspiracy to elect a Kenyan Socialist Muslim.”
Or you can keep believing what you “feel” is the truth without actually learning what the truth really is. Pick your reality.
(EDIT 11/12/12 – I revised an offensive comment in the column. Thank you all so much for sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, and all over the web. Please subscribe, and “like” my page on Facebook. Follow me @Walkofshameband)
–Sean Kemmerer is a freelance writer, administrator of Politics Without The Crazy Pills, and all-around swell guy.