Who doesn’t want a smart President?

Republicans, apparently.*

I swore I would stick to cultural topics and not discuss anything political in this blog, but since I can’t offend anyone who isn’t reading, and this topic stuck in my head like a brain barnacle, here goes …

Exhibit A: The last four Republican presidents … Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, George W. Bush:  None of them with an IQ higher than their body temperature.  Gerald Ford could trip over his own thought balloon. Ronald Reagan never had a thought that wasn’t scripted by someone else (or he didn’t mistake from a movie). George W., well, we need not even go there, but suffice it to say that he was Pinky, and Dick Cheney or Karl Rove were “The Brain.” And George H. Bush? Well, this is what the last smart GOP president had to say about him on his oval office tape recordings when Bush Sr. was ambassador of the U.N.  … “Loyal, but no brains.” And remember … he is considered the SMART one of those four.

The fact that Richard Nixon was the last smart Republican says everything. He was deeply paranoid to the point of creating a foaming-at-the-mouth enemies list, and then surreptitiously ordering a break-in to the files of the Democratic National Headquarters, which eventually got him impeached. Even Republicans never trusted him and haven’t been the same ever since.

Exhibit B: The last three Democratic presidents … Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. All of them with measured IQ’s above the genius level (150). Jimmy Carter was a nuclear physicist, for crying out loud (and a preacher). Bill Clinton had a 180 IQ and could eloquently and informatively talk about every topic on the planet from stem cell research to Keynesian economics. And Barack, well, come on, he’s a black man named Hussein who convinced a good majority (10 million more than his opponent) Americans to vote for him. Just overcoming the ‘black’ part required a communication and intelligence skill set that would set back most Harvard graduates.

So this isn’t a discussion of the actual merits or policies of the candidate, but just the fact that Republicans or conservatives have no problem voting for someone they’d like to have a beer with, but not someone who they perceive is smarter than they are. I don’t get this. Why wouldn’t we want the smartest man possible for the job? Why wouldn’t we want someone as president who makes our entire country look smart to the rest of the world?

This leads me to inevitably conclude that what makes someone either conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, ultimately has nothing to do with politics, but is more about how people are hard-wired either emotionally or genetically.

For example, you will rarely find a writer in the arts (or should I say a good writer; Tom Clancy doesn’t count) alive who is a Republican. There’s a very simple explanation for this. Anyone hard-wired for empathy, who by their very emotional skill set and craft has the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and walk a mile to either create or fill that character … is just not going to think like Republican.

George Carlin articulated it best when he said the Republicans are all about property rights (or as I like to characterize it … “I got mine, screw everybody else”), and Democrats are all about human rights (or, “Even when I GET mine, I’m not going to feel as good about it unless someone else has a chance at it.”)

So if you’re genetically hard wired against empathy, chances are you are a Republican. (Sorry, Jesus, you don’t qualify).

I would also suggest a couple other genetic traits that might put you in that camp are fear of change (hello, reactionaries), and paranoia about those things or people you don’t understand. Government is just some monstrous entity that’s going to come and take away your guns. Gays are going to convert your children into homosexuals and devalue your marriage (but Tiger Woods won’t). Hispanics are going to ruin the value of your neighborhood and force you to speak Spanish to order a cheeseburger. Anything a Republican, reactionary, conservative is not overly familiar with, somehow poses a threat. It doesn’t make them curious – no, never any genuine outside interest or curiosity; just a threat. This wouldn’t be the case if the knee-jerk reaction to anything they don’t understand was to pause for a reflective moment trying to understand, instead of just being angry or afraid (again, the empathy vacuum).

Conservatives like to say that a liberal is a conservative who’s never been mugged. This just proves my theory about being hard-wired for paranoia. They’re always basing their mindset on a negative event in the future. But a liberal always thinks deeper than that, to what actually helped create the mindset for the mugger in the first place (walk in their shoes, remember?).  Somehow, they didn’t get theirs, and now they want YOURS. A liberal doesn’t put the mugger into a ‘ME versus THEM’ category, but at some level understands that … “There, but for the Grace of God, (and some really nasty crystal meth), go I.” There are more forces creating this scenario than just … he’s a bad man who wants my stuff. I mean, c’mon, it’s ONLY stuff.

What person in their right mind wouldn’t want to know for sure that, if they or one of their loved ones suffer a catastrophic illness, they wouldn’t be financially ruined? We are the only civilized nation in the world where you can go bankrupt simply by the cost of your health, or lack of it. That’s insane. Worse; it’s morally bankrupt. Anyone with empathy, again, has no problem understanding this.  Republicans say, “I got my insurance, what’s the problem?” Again, without projecting out of their own experience to sympathize with others, how could they understand? Because, if you’ve EVER spent a long portion of your life, perhaps as a free lance artist or just an unemployed, walking on a tinderbox being uninsured, you WOULD understand…completely.

Smart, empathetic leaders do. That’s why most of us voted for one this time.

The Jesus who preached at the Sermon on the Mount was definitely hard-wired for empathy. In fact, the only people he couldn’t empathize with or tolerate were, well, greedy bastards who said, ‘I got mine, screw everybody else.’

So, let’s review. If you’re hard wired to be paranoid of things you don’t understand, then of course you’re going to feel threatened by a leader who is smarter than you because … well, they’re obviously going to try and trick you out of your money or your stuff.

And it’s your stuff, goddamit, screw everybody else.

 

*(Republican here being defined as any conservative who voted for George W. Bush twice, or who thinks Fox News is real news)

 

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This one’s for my dad … the smartest man I ever knew, a WWII veteran, and a true Democrat who would have gotten a smile out of this.               (April 22, 1921-December 22, 2001)

— A. Wayne Carter

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