Against Stupidity, Some Conservatives Contend–Hopefully Not in Vain

Bobby Jindal has decided to come out against “dumbed-down conservatism” and has stated that Republicans ought to stop being “the stupid party.” His comments could not have been better timed. The anti-intellectualism that has been expressed by some in the Republican Party and the conservative movement is rejected by a great many in the GOP, but unfortunately, those who have embraced anti-intellectualism have had control of the microphone. Specifically, lousy candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have made other conservatives/Republicans look bad. This has to stop, and given that Jindal will have a bigger platform from which to expound his views when he takes over as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, hopefully it will.

In a similar vein, Bret Stephens calls upon Republicans to “get a grip.” You would do well to read his whole editorial.

And Erick Erickson weighs in as well against the nutty fringe groups on the right that have decided to come out in the aftermath of the election in order to peddle their crazy theories. These people are not going to help Republicans win elections anytime in the future.

Team Obama, it should be said, employed a more cerebral approach to politics and electioneering; witness its embrace of behavioral science research to advance the president’s electoral cause. This approach helped them beat Republicans even though economic conditions worked against the president’s reelection prospects. Are Republicans going to learn anything from Team Obama’s example, or are they willing to lose more elections down the line, slouching towards irrelevance all the while?

  1. iWc

    All of those who think secession is nutty do not understand the magnitude of the problems our nation faces.

    We are outrageously broke. We do not follow the constitution; even our Supreme Court will now rubberstamp anything the Executive sends their way. We are becoming a socialist nation. And after the election there is no way “back” to a freedom-loving America writ-large.

    What we face instead is hyper-inflation and crippling austerity wedded to socialist policies that will make things worse. This country is going to follow in Argentina’s footsteps if we follow the “expert” advice.

    I am preaching secession because I am a realistic, pragmatic person. We have no better answers. It is too late for America for us to waste breath stressing about how to “win” the next election. The Republic is lost. We must accept that reality, and find constructive paths forward, for our children and for posterity.

    Secession of Red States is the best answer I have seen.

  2. Nobody

    The anti-intellectualism in conservative circles is a bad reaction to hostile intellectualism. The good reaction is better, wiser intellectualism.

  3. Goldgeller

    Very good. I think the Stephens column was pretty good but a bit too “snippy.” I’m not saying he hasn’t thought about the issues, but he took the lowest common denominator approach that time, which was disappointing.  The Red State post is hard to argue against. 

    The story of the two “abortion in cases of rape” gaffes is a bit more complicated, and not a good way to measure the party.

    As far as “intellectualism” who knows if there is anti-intellectualism in the party? That word itself has multiple meanings. In any case, okay, Obama had a better campaign than Romney… why is that the fault of the GOP writ large? That’s not even Limbaugh or  Andrew Wilkow’s fault (supposed sources of the rampant “anti-intellectualism”) in the party. 

    I’m not saying you don’t make some good points. There are definitely times when the “Establishment” has been right. It’s just a tough time I guess. 

  4. Goldgeller
    Purplestrife: The anti-intellectualism in conservative circles is a bad reaction to hostile intellectualism. The good reaction is better, wiser intellectualism. · 10 minutes ago

    Very good point. But I’d say it isn’t just a reaction to hostile intellectualism, it’s misplaced intellectualism. Instead of an argument for or against immigration policies, it ends up being “either pro immigration or you’re racist” but people will call it “intellectual” because maybe it’s a journal article (as opposed to a newspaper/blog) or even a book! And look, there are  lots of graphs and numbers! And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure most of the arts and letters schools tend left and far left. How many books does one need to read being called a racist or a homophobe until you’ve satisfied the “intellectuals?” (Trick question!)

    The term “intellectual” in itself is a bizarre term, with no real non tendentious meaning, so I roll my eyes when someone says “conservatives are anti-intellectual.” 

  5. Trace

    I saw no evidence of anti-intellectualism at the convention or in the campaign. Romney and Ryan both came across as quite intellectual. This is a fair criticism of the way the Republican party operated under George Bush but this criticism seems completely archaic. If there was a “dumbed down” campaign it was the one condicted by the Democrats where every point was distilled down into an idiotic meme. 

    Nor has conservative media perpetuated this anti-intellectual view. Deniers of climate change are necessarily armed with more facts and data than their foes who more resemble religious zealots. Even Rush Limbaugh in his criticism of Sandra Fluke, though rude and crude, was expressing a nuanced and well-founded objection to her expressed views.

    This election had nothing to do with anti-intellectualism. Neither this criticism by Jindal nor your endorsement of it makes any sense to me.

    Rather I see Jindal pandering to the media keen to endorse this view in an effort to seem “reasonable” and “moderate.”

  6. Trace

    I don’t think the secessionists are serious. Rather they are using the President’s own propaganda device against him as a type of protest.

  7. DrewInWisconsin

    Democrats love to shoot down conservatives with accusations of “anti-intellectualism.” Why are we helping them? Do we seriously think that anti-intellectualism is some sort of conservative-only problem? Have you ever tried to reason with a leftist? From my point of view, the left is thoroughly anti-reason, anti-logic, and anti-intellectual, but as with most of their failings, they’ve managed to project them onto their ideological enemies. We do ourselves no favors if we pretend they’re right.

    I’ve always felt that the accusations of “anti-intellectualism” were simply a less hostile way for the left to say “You guys are a bunch of ignorant rednecks.” Granted, I’ve never known a leftist who cared whether he was being hostile.

    But let’s knock it off with the circular firing squad.

  8. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Pejman Yousefzadeh: In a similar vein, Bret Stephens calls upon Republicans to “get a grip.” He offers specifics on how a grip can be gotten, and you would do well to read his whole editorial.

    I thought that intellectual slouch Ross Douthat had a good response to Stephens’ column:

    Bret Stephens’s interesting plan for the GOP: 1) Jettison cultural conservatives, 2) wait for an economic collapse: http://on.wsj.com/XzxIwB

    The word for such a prescription might be many things. It’s not “intellectual.”

  9. KC Mulville

    We’ve been hearing a lot of helpful advice these days. Thank you.

    Some of the advice isn’t very good. Bret Stephens lectures us to stop the “abortion extremism,” because a couple of candidates said something that many consider loony. But that’s a cheat, and it’s sloppy thinking – by Stephens. It’s sloppy because it broadly projects “extremism” on a lot of people, based on those comments.

    For instance, if some candidate came out and said that we should obliterate Iran with nuclear weapons right now, does that mean the rest of us who advocate for a strong defense are psychotic extremists? That’s just sloppy. It’s prejudice instead of inference.

    Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi say more stupid things in a half hour than the entire Republican Party says in a year. The Left and the media, however, gleefully leap on any stupid statements on the Right and broad-brush the entire GOP with them. Now I agree we shouldn’t make stupid statements in the first place, but we don’t need fellow conservatives joining the Left in portraying us as the Stupid Party.

    Why does everyone suddenly want to be Joe Scarborough?

  10. DrewInWisconsin
    Trace: I saw no evidence of anti-intellectualism at the convention or in the campaign. Romney and Ryan both came across as quite intellectual. This is a fair criticism of the way the Republican party operated under George Bush but this criticism seems completely archaic. If there was a “dumbed down” campaign it was the one condicted by the Democrats where every point was distilled down into an idiotic meme. 

    Well said. There’s a reason that Obama avoided news conferences and serious journalists and went on The View and David Letterman and crazy morning radio shows where they asked him stupid questions. Those were the low-information voters he was courting. And it worked. He’s creating a coalition of dummies who want only their regular hit of Soma and a night out at the feelies. Taxpayer-funded, of course.

  11. Mollie Hemingway
    C

    I’m still ruminating on the best way to respond to whatever happened a week ago, but the winning party ran on Big Bird, binders of women, dogs on cars, a completely imaginary “war on women”, etc. etc.

    Are we sure the best approach is intellectualism? Or is it a race to the brain-emptying factory?

  12. outstripp

    Remember that half the population is below the median.

  13. DrewInWisconsin

    Just remember, for every Todd Akin on our side, there’s a Hank Johnson on their side, convinced that Guam will tip over.

    And as for Mourdock, I will not go along with the gang and pretend that he said anything wrong, I happen to agree with him that all life has value, even if conceived in violence.

  14. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    DrewInWisconsin:

    And as for Mourdock, I will not go along with the gang and pretend that he said anything wrong, I happen to agree with him that all life has value, even if conceived in violence. · 3 minutes ago

    I think all candidates could say things better than they do, frequently, but I’m with you. Mourdock’s loss should be credited to Todd Akin and no one else.

  15. Hank Rhody

    About two years ago I decided it was finally time to read The Road to Serfdom. So I go down to my local library and find that there are thirty holds on the only copy. Is this the anti-intellectual party that’s perpetually borrowing a half century old tome on economics?

  16. katievs

    I oppose anti-intellectualism.  I oppose wing-nuttery.

    But I’m with Trace on this point.  The last thing we need is for our party to get more intellectual.

    It seems plain to me that our side lost because we went about making our case in a too high-minded and wonky way, while the Obama campaign was busy fomenting resentment and revenge. 

    We lost because the establishment on our side is too aloof from the base; it’s embarrassed by the base.  It’s even contemptuous of the base.

    Mourdock and Akin (how unjust it is that these two are lumped together!) won their primaries because the base feels misrespected and unrepresented by the elites.

    We need sophisticated, principled spokemen who know how to make a populatist case for our principles and policies.

    I’m thinking Sarah Palin, but more articulate.  Marco Rubio shows promise in this direction.

  17. katievs

    For example, here’s how I think we need to be talking to recent immigrants:

    “You think these Democrats care about you?  They don’t care about you!  They want power over you.  They want you on food stamps and welfare.  They want you dependent.  That’s how they get your vote.  That’s how they get their hands on the tax-payer’s money.  Because nothing is so dangerous to the ruling elite as an self-standing, independently-thinking citizenry holding them to account.  Don’t let them use you!  You didn’t come to American to be part of the servant class for the rich and powerful.  You came here to be Americans!  You want be Americans?  You want to be part of the land of the free and the home of the brave?  Help me cut Washington DC down to size!”

  18. Tuco

    If the goal of secession advocates is to actually permanently cleave the country in two (or more) countries, then my belief is they are not thinking clearly about the geopolitical and economic implications of their sincere efforts.  If it is a tactic in a strategy to keep alive and visible the principles of small government and liberty, it is burying the lede and consequently doomed to failure in the attempt to persuade.

    I cannot but agree with Mr. Yousefzadeh in regard to the effectiveness of psychology when trying to get out the vote.  We’re so bad at it because we can’t even frame the issues.  The automatic tax increases are referred to as repealing the Bush tax cuts.  Republicans refer to it this way!!  We give in before the fight has begun.  We have to choose our words with care and stick to them.  This is why Gingrich was compelling despite being fatally flawed.  We needed a a MasterBlaster candidate!

  19. Pseudodionysius
    Trace: I don’t think the secessionists are serious. Rather they are using the President’s own propaganda device against him as a type of protest. · 35 minutes ago

    Big time political consultant Mike Murphy said on MSNBC that the GOP does not know how to appeal beyond its base. He specifically complained about the issue of homosexual marriage.

    I can’t resist: An article from Crisis Magazine where Austin Ruse states the case that Romney lost because of his abandonment of social issues:

    I might be able to understand these comments if Romney had actually run as a social conservative, but his race was first, last and always about the economy, smaller government, lower taxes, things to warm the cockles of almost any fiscal conservative. But where and when did he actually campaign as a social conservative?

    My suggestion for a podcast? Mike Murphy and Pat Caddell.

  20. katievs

    We should be going into inner cities (let’s bring Allen West and Condi Rice!) and saying things like this:

    “How do you like what 60 years of subservience to the Democratic Party has done for your community?  How do you like what it’s doing to your kids, your neighborhoods?  How do you like being on welfare and shopping with food stamps and owing them your vote?  How do you like having corrupt politicians empowering themselves at your expense?  Where has the Democratic Party gotten you?  Are you going to keep falling for it?  Keep getting in line for your government-approved pittance?  Or have you maybe had enough of that?  Your grandmothers didn’t march with Martin Luther King, Jr. for this.   They marched so you could be free and independent.   It’s time to to get free!

    It’s time to stop believing people who have been lying to you just because they share your skin color.  It’s time for you to stand up again for what’s best in yourselves, what’s best in your heritage, what’s best in America.”

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