BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
After considerable gnashing of teeth and threshing around since November, could it be that the Republican Party has found its new leader? No, we are not talking about the election of its first black RNC chairman, Michael Steele, we are talking about its real leader.
Michael Steele is a good-looking, charismatic, intelligent, historically moderate, journeyman Republican who has normally not been very successful within his Republican Party primaries or in general elections. He was the lieutenant governor of Maryland as a part of a team featuring a popular governor. He has not usually done very well on his own, but all wish him well.
The finals of the RNC chairman race came down to three persons. One of these was a member of an all-white country club, and another was the distributor of a controversial CD parody called “Barack, the Magic Negro.” Thus Steele appropriately won that contest, and he became the sinecure of the party.
Rush Limbaugh has been calling for blocking of Obama’s efforts for change and for improvement of the economy. “I hope Obama fails,” Limbaugh is shown to be saying on clips. He called loudly on Republicans to vote against the economic stimulus package.
Sure enough, the Republican members of congress did as they were told, and 100% of them voted against the economic measure. They did so even after being courted by the new president for bi-partisanship and some compromises being made to suit them. Not one strayed.
What does Rush say about all this talk now of his calling the shots for the Republicans? He says, “I have no official leadership position in the party,” and then he gestures toward Sarah Palin, suggesting that perhaps she is the party’s leader now. Ye Gads!
All of us see, hear, or read of Limbaugh in frequent quotations and video clips. Never a fan, the last time this writer heard much of his program was a dozen years ago when he was carrying on about Bill Clinton’s fathering a child with a black prostitute in Arkansas. Most of Limbaugh’s palaver seems to be similarly credible and detestable.
This observer finds it difficult to understand why people who seem intelligent otherwise actually listen seriously to Limbaugh’s lamentations. That he might now be regarded, even rumored, as the unofficial leader of the Republican Party is astounding. One would hope Republicans would repudiate his grandiose notions, but that seems unlikely. Perhaps they are afraid of him.
The “red state mentality” is something different with which to deal, since it defies logic. Most of the remaining red states are now confined to the South, often considered to be an educationally and culturally backward part of the union, as well as behind in race relations. Being a native Oklahoman, this writer has often taken offense at some such suggestions, and has almost come to blows with critics on several occasions in his life.
But indeed the signs are there. It is true that Oklahomans are not quite as well educated in terms of percentage of college degrees, but much worse is the attitude of anti-intellectualism which seems to pervade the minds of so many. We do not value achievement in academics and the arts in education, as we do other accomplishments.
The best and the brightest of our leadership aspirants tend to be rejected at the polls, and too often it seems that voters elect screwballs and dimwits to represent us. It was not always so, but that has been the trend.
Oftentimes knowledge is not the equivalent of social and cultural wisdom. It may be possible to learn science without developing habits of scientific logic. Apparently one can learn without understanding. Logic and critical thinking skills may elude the influence of education.
Many of our people believe every sordid story that is passed around their network of communications. Just this week this writer encountered a person with a college degree who insists that Obama was born in Kenya, and that he is a good buddy of Ayers, the reformed Vietnam era protestor – everything passed around on those dirty e-mails that have been repudiated. He is sure it is all true, and the facts do not matter. Since his children are home-schooled, such attitudes are likely to be perpetuated.
One might suppose that if one listened to Rush Limbaugh and watched Fox News for his information, believing it all, it would be become much more difficult to discern the truth from fiction.
Learning the truth normally requires that one be open-minded. Psychology calls that maintaining an open perceptual system. Closing one’s perceptual system is usually considered defensiveness, i.e. one is afraid the truth will hurt one’s self perception or challenge one’s system of beliefs and values and thus upset the inner equilibrium.
Such theories offer little hope for rapid attitudinal change among our people.
– Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer