The 2012 election offers a smorgasbord of the wacky and the terrible, from grifters to barking mad would-be messiahs. Taken as a whole (and forget for a moment that the mainstream media really, really wants you to take them seriously) this is probably the most bellicose yet mentally unbalanced field of Republican contenders in American history.
Just look at one potential match-up, between two men who had a heated exchange at Tuesday’s CNN-sponsored debate in Nevada – and what a terrible choice for America– Mitt Romney with his legal adviser Robert Bork claiming that women in this country do not face discrimination, or Rick Perry with his team doctoring climate reports to remove any mention of global warming being caused by human activity. Isn’t either position akin to denying the existence of gravity and air?
Patently, women do face discrimination. Patently, global warming is caused by human activity – 90 percent of climate scientists are convinced of this. Yet here we have two Republicans – a fundamentalist favorite on one hand and as close to an establishment Republican as you’ll find today on the other, who want to be president of the United States while denying reality a role in their proposed administrations.
What is America to do?
Bork, who was never much to be admired, hasn’t changed: he claims the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause should not apply to women. His logic? Because women make up the majority of college students, discrimination and inequality must be a thing of the past.
“I think I feel justified by the fact ever since then, the Equal Protection Clause kept expanding in ways that cannot be justified historically, grammatically, or any other way. Women are a majority of the population now—a majority in university classrooms and a majority in all kinds of contexts. It seems to me silly to say, ‘Gee, they’re discriminated against and we need to do something about it.’ They aren’t discriminated against anymore.”
This is the guy Romney made co-chair of his “Judicial Advisory Committee.” This is what he is selling America. A lie. One of many lies.
Rick Perry is just as dishonest. America should make no mistake: It’s not stupidity but dishonesty, another intentional lie. A recent report on rising sea levels in Galveston Bay had all mention of climate change expunged. Why? Because the truth is unacceptable.
When the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) produced its new State of the Bay report to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Perry’s appointees to that commission refused to accept the inconvenient truth and edited out all mention of anthropogenic global warming.
Doesn’t America deserve better than the choices the GOP offers?
But this is the Republican way – if you don’t like the truth, if the facts are unpalatable, you just make them go away. This was a popular practice under the Bush administration and Bush look-a-like Perry, who seems to have passed whatever test Texas governors have to pass in order to confound America as a whole, isn’t afraid to do the same thing. Peer reviewed research means nothing to ideologically driven Republicans. No, the Republicans would have us believe that it is geologists, lawyers and corporate CEOs (all employed by the fossil fuel industry) who really understand climate – not experts in the field.
And these people want to run our country. Americans should be afraid, and they should flock to their polling places in 2012 to make sure that they – and their descendents – are safe from this Republican-produced “world as it should be.” Because the only world we really have is the world that is, and we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by pretending anything other than the facts matter. Our children sure won’t thank us for hiding from them the fact that we knew the seas were rising, that we knew about it and did nothing because we didn’t think their futures were worth a dime.
Paul Krugman wrote about this tendency with regards to economics, calling it “rabbit -hole economics” – a “fantasy world where nothing looks or behaves the way it does in real life.” And it’s obviously not only economics but the environment, rights, and so much else besides. The real world does not match Republican conceptions of it and, as Krugman warns, “the prospect that one of these people may well be our next president is, frankly, terrifying.”
Truer words were never spoken. It’s a simple fact that you can’t try to interact with the universe as though it’s a universe of your conceptions rather than a universe as it is – pretending it is not cold will not keep your fingers from freezing. Pretending the seas are not rising will not keep your feet dry. Pretending cigarette smoke will not harm your lungs will not keep you safe from cancer.