Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Most damaging effect of the past 8 years

Quite a few articles have been written about the damage done to the US over the past eight years. From our international prestige/respect, drains on our military, our incredible level of national debt etc. But, all of these problems are relatively fixable. Granted, the solutions will be complex and take a lot of time but I think they are certainly within our reach. However, the most damaging aspect of the past eight years I think is the way that the leaders of the political right have convinced their followers to distrust any intellectual. The experts have been successfully branded as elites; unworthy of your trust and incapable of understanding your issues. It is appalling because, unlike the problems listed above, this issue is an intangible one that will take a lot to undo. It's as though 50% of the people in the US have been convinced that they should not trust any media except FOX news and that they should be paranoid of everyone else. It feeds into the tendency of some of us to be insular and xenophobic. How do you mobilize a society when half of its inhabitants don't trust their sources of information. How do we form complex solutions to abstract and long term problems when half of us do not trust the experts? This type of thinking reached its culmination I think in sarah palin. An anti-intellectual, 'everywoman' sort of politician who doesn't know anything about the world and doesn't need to know because that would only make her less like the average american. It's sad actually that in the US, where we have the best universities and attract the best minds, that we now live in an age where being smart and intelligent is a bad thing. Hopefully with Obama's election we start to see a change in this attitude, but I dont think it'll be that easy. Afterall, John McCain's campaign was centered around this xenophobic, paranoid, fear-mongering style of politics and he got 46% of the vote.