This is taken from a blog post in 2008 just before the McCain/Obama election, explaining why I planned to vote for Obama. Note: at the time, I still called myself a conservative. What caused me to stop? Well, in large part, this — why Sarah Palin made it impossible for me to vote for John McCain, and my fears of what her candidacy meant for the future.
The last point is something that the Republican party has to face if it will survive the next decade: among many other ill-conceived decisions, in embracing Sarah Palin and the social conservatism that she represents, the Republican party has made itself the standard bearer for anti-intellectualism.
Sarah Palin, as best as anyone can tell, has no opinions. On anything. In her few unscripted interviews, she has been unable to answer such simple questions as what newspaper she reads in the morning. Her one policy speech has been to support care for disabled children, which while certainly something that we should do as a society as a general rule, is to put it mildly not chief among the issues facing us as a nation. Yet Palin’s, and McCain’s response to the very simple questions raised by Palin’s lack of intellectual curiosity is to attack those who ask the questions, and moreover, to attack the very question itself. “Joe Sixpack” or “Joe the Plumber” wouldn’t ask if Sarah Palin has a foreign policy beyond a woolly grasp of geography.
Instead they would go to political gatherings strongly, horribly reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s Nuremburg rallies to rail at their enemies for being terrorists and socialists and Arabs and the other. Literally. Raising the Republican bogeymen, much as Jews were for the Nazis – no actual meaning, simply the other to scare the faithful with in lieu of an actual reasonable dialogue. This is not merely troubling. It is deeply frightening for anyone with a sense of history, and the Republican campaign has been extremely irresponsible in its prosecution of the campaign and its consequent corrosion of the national dialogue. I disagree with many people politically – this does not mean they are Insert-scary-meaningless-word-here.
This is not occurring in a vacuum. It is part of a pattern shown by today’s Republican leaders and the current Administration – a lack of respect for dissent, an all too easy appeal to fear and the other – sadly made all too easy, and all too quickly exploited, by the 9/11 attacks. If you ask many people today if Saddam Hussein bore responsibility for 9/11, many would say yes. Our government, in this as in so many other ways, has simply failed us. It has devolved to primitive threats of fear and anti-intellectual rejection of reason, something cheered on by the shock-talk conservative partisan media. And we see its application in the McCain campaign and its apparent existence in a strange time continuum where William Ayers is responsible for the stock market collapse and Barack Obama is an Arab terrorist.
This must be confronted. It must be rejected. We as Americans are simply better than this, and we must show this, cleanly and clearly. The appeals to fear and horror must be rejected.
Note from 2023: being right sucks.