If there's a take-home lesson from Tuesday's elections, it's that I have no idea how people think. Consider:
The R's have been engaging in raving xenophobia, whether against gays, immigrants, or Muslims. Now, I am an immigrant--I've had no end of problems with this fact through the years, and thanks to the Byzantine nature of the system here, yes, I've been illegal sometimes. So their rhetoric on immigrants--legal and otherwise--really, really doesn't sit well with me: I've already been hearing it for years in reference to myself from the local wingnut party (ATAKA: "Seriously guys, we're totally not fascists"). On that basis alone, I would never--ever--vote for any candidate with an R next to his name ever again. Furthermore, I am a member of a religious group that is a minority where I live, and, yes, has been persecuted. Not that I've personally suffered much, but still. So again, solely on the basis of their anti-Muslim rhetoric I would never--ever--vote Republican for the rest of my life.
Now, I get that the American public hasn't had my particular life experiences, but then there's history--recent history. In 2000, we were at peace, the economy was doing well, we had a large budget surplus and the respect of the world. We were poised on the brink of the American century. The Republicans took control of government in 2001. Fast forward eight years. We are fighting two miserable, expensive, unwinnable wars. Civil liberties have been rolled back at home, and human rights are being violated abroad. We have the largest deficit in history. America is diminished in the eyes of other countries, in leadership, respect, and credible threat. New Orleans is under water. We are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and an unregulated Wall Street has just received the better part of a trillion dollars--no strings attached, of course--because screwing us over backfired, and if they go down then the world economy goes down with them.
This of course is a greatly abbreviated list. Stated mathematically:
Republican governance = unmitigated disaster
In the two years since they left power, they have displayed no contrition, no change in their core beliefs or practices, and no credible policy alternatives--just stonewalling everything that the Democrats try to do--and yet, people filed out to the polls on Tuesday and voted these same clowns back into power in the House.
I don't get it.
And before you try to explain it to me, yeah, I "get it"--I can analyze all the reasons that might lead someone to that decision: they are scared so they vote right, they are unhappy so they vote against the incumbent, they're xenophonic themselves, they have the memory of goldfish, they have been lied to by demagogues (socialism!), they honestly believe that returning the top marginal tax rate to roughly Clinton's levels is a bolshevik plot (this would be the "idiot" demographic), etc. So yeah, I "get it".
But I don't get it.
For me, this sort of thing is like advocating geocentrism or dressing in the gangsta rap style. I know--as an intellectual proposition--a list of reasons why someone might choose to do those things, but the frame of mind in which they would seem appealing is something basically alien to me. I simply cannot imagine what is going through someone's head when they come up with some convoluted system showing how satellites can "orbit" a flat earth, or when they walk out of the house--on purpose, mind you--looking like an extra in a Snoop Dogg video, or when they check the little box next to the 'R'.