Attacking the messenger is nothing new in politics.
Conservatives are applying this across the board, utilizing what William F. Buckley once told Charlie Rose was conservatism’s main goal: attacking and fighting against issues.
So, if scientific facts don’t promote your political agenda, attack it.
A study highlighted by Mother Jones is quite illuminating and proves the “New Right’s” plot perfectly. Kevin Drum focuses on “conservatives don’t trust science,” but that’s not the message that’s most important.
At the core of what Gordon Gauchat calls the “New Right” objective against science points to something far more challenging for the left. Oh, if only there was a “New Left” to match the conservative “New Right.” (Is there even a “left” anymore?)
The critical point in the study is that not only is the conservative distrust of science found in the study coming from educated conservatives, which Drum highlights, but more importantly, it’s calculated and politically purposeful in intent, which can be seen through corporations joining in, as well as religious conservatives, to push their ideology over science to win the ideological argument.
In other words, educated conservatives are purposefully manifesting changes through their anti-science intent for ideological gains alone.
The facts and truth of science don’t matter as long as conservatism wins. It’s not that they’re ignorant. It’s that they don’t care. It you elongate this thesis to include our economy, health care, even entitlements, but especially the war drums on Iran, you’ll see once again why bipartisanship for Democrats is a loser. Conservatism at its core thrives off of scorched earth, because it has no other choice, because facts don’t support it.
Bill Clinton saved the economy after 12 years of Reagan ruin; Barack Obama had an economic catastrophe dumped in his lap after 4 years of Bush, who was handed a whopping surplus from Clinton, with Obama barely able to save the country from financial ruin. Imagine if Obama would have done tax hikes like Clinton, then you get what might have been, but even with his modest approach, Obama dug us out from what yet another “conservative” president wrought.
A snippet of the study is below:
In addition, a comparison of predicted probabilities indicates that conservatives with college degrees decline more quickly than those with only a high school degree (p < .05). These results are quite profound, because they imply that conservative discontent with science was not attributable to the uneducated but to rising distrust among educated conservatives. Put another way, educated conservatives appear to be more culturally engaged with the ideology and, in Martin and Desmond's (2010) terms, more politically sophisticated. [...] The NR's [New Right's] ideology conflicts with the scientific community on a number of crucial aspects. First, Mooney (2005:5) identifies an inherent tension between conservatism as a political philosophy that emphasizes traditionalism and the "dynamism of scientific inquiry"“its constant onslaught on old orthodoxies, its rapid generation of new technological possibilities." Mooney also stresses two key constituencies of the NR, the religious right and transnational corporations, that each have vested interests in scientific outcomes. Corporations subject to government regulation often challenge science to undermine federal controls and protect their profit margins (McCright and Dunlap 2000, 2003). Religious groups clash with science over moral, epistemological, and ontological issues, such as Darwinian evolution, stem cell research, and AIDs research (Ansell 1997; Burack 2008; Smith 2001). Studies of the conservative movement in the United States have also focused on its cultural dimensions and, particularly, the NR’s media empire. Beginning with radio and book publishing houses and then extending into cable television, think tanks, and Internet social networking sites, the NR [New Right] has created an intellectual apparatus that promotes the conservative agenda and articulates a conservative cultural identity. This intellectual base represents an alternative to academic locations and the scientific community and is often socially distinguished and reinforced through its criticism of “liberal” bias in these cultural spheres…
No wonder Al Gore became the Republican Party’s number one nemesis.
The calculated conservative head-in-the-sand-on-science-so-you-can win-politically-plan has a potentially devastating outcome, especially for climate change advocates, but also our energy policy, which is a national security issue.
It also proves another reason why religious conservatives, led by Rick Santorum, and Michelle Bachmann, are such hard core homeschooling advocates.
The nefarious aspect of the study reveals that even educated conservatives walk away from science upon discovering that it holds too many inconvenient truths.
There’s no reason to believe that this won’t hold true for every other issues where facts fail to fall their way.
I’d say it’s one reason why the number of independents is growing, with Republicans losing the most on party identification. Unfortunately, independents don’t trust Democrats or Republicans anymore and it’s not hard to understand why they don’t.