“Stupid is as Stupid Does”

ignorance01The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
- Carl Sandburg

I suspect Sandburg was just talking about actual fog in this poem, but we English major types do tend to over analyze…particularly poems.  One way of looking at this is to see the fog as the problems we sometimes face (be they death, worry,  etc.).

For many, many years, the dumbing down of America has been our fog – never rolling in over us, but coming in on cat’s feet and looking over America, threatening to pounce.  It has been acknowledged, but not much more than noticed and notated (see books like, “Anti-intellectualism in American Life” and “The Age of American Unreason” ). It is as if we believe that, like Sandburg’s fog, it will eventually move on. It hasn’t.

Anti-intellectualism has pounced on America.  We celebrate shows that reward people for being smarter than a fifth grader (a show I might add that is hosted by the “you might be a redneck” guy).  Possibly the two places that most clearly show our embracing of ignorance are church and state.  From gay bashing Christians who when engaged by someone presenting biblical hermeneutics simply quote scripture, call names and question your piousness to politicians who don’t even know that the first amendment directly addresses the relationship between religion and government, the dumbing down of America has pounced on us and now it is just batting us around until it decides to devour us.

Not surprisingly, those who embrace ignorance in both church and state also want to see the two combined (one would assume it is for the sake of making ignorance much more convenient – why be ignorant about two things when you can roll them into one convent package?  What the pancake wrapped sausage is to breakfast, conflation of church and state hope to do for anti-intellectualist).

Worse yet, the unreason of our nation has combined with another terrible instrument that the Republican party has learned to play like a virtuoso: the ‘could-be-me’ myth.  It started with defending millionaires by telling middle American, “Hey, when you make your million, do you want the government to take it away from you?”  It worked.  Middle America started supporting policies that broadened the rights of the rich and big businesses and decreased the rights of the rest of us all on the off chance that they make their own million – hey, it could-be-me.

So, they took it to another level.  Why not have a President that could be your drinking buddy? A “decider-er” for the nation that reminds me of me…or at least of one of my drinking buddies or that frat guy I knew in college who wasn’t very smart but sure was committed.  If that guy could be President, I could be President – it could-be-me.

Anti-intellectualism has pounced on America as the good-ol-boy elected official that could-be-me has morphed into Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell style political candidates that are mostly performance with very little content.  The reality is their lack of content is lauded as making them more like us. “What? You can’t see Russia from Alaska?” “Really? The Constitution says government shouldn’t get tied up in religion?” “I didn’t know that either.” “How awesome is it that Palin/O’Donnell could win and they don’t know the same things I don’t know. Hmmm, it could-be-me.”

It does not escape me that the powerful (like Rove and the Koch brothers), who would not be able to get elected themselves, are behind this rush to losing our minds (quite literally).  It serves them well to have shills they can shuffle around in the nation sized shell game they have created, moving their interests and those of big business back and forth with a deft hand skilled in trickery and deception while the American public play a guessing game trying to decide under which political party their interests are actually hidden.  For the powerful, having someone who doesn’t actually have the capacity or desire to question their motives or the constitutionality of their actions in place to play the game for them is not a moral question but the height of good gamesmanship…and in their eyes, we are the pawns.

When we make kings and queens of the ignorant we become a nation of fools.  I don’t want anyone serving this great nation that isn’t quite a bit more intelligent than me.  Every time I see a candidate doing well who clearly isn’t among the top political minds our nation has to offer, I don’t think, “Well how refreshing, a commoner like me.” I think, “Holy shit, that person could be helping run the nation!” (and I don’t even cuss when I bag my thumb with a hammer.)

To quote Forrest Gump, “Stupid is a stupid does.”  I can’t wait to see what we do this election cycle.  Just keep one thing in mind, Wisdom is the thing in which God delights daily. (Proverbs 8:30)

Contributed by Mark Sandlin at The God Article.

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