The right-wing mindset is a pretty deep rabbit hole. It's been carefully programmed over the last decade to respond predictably to various stimuli. From an organizational perspective they've been practicing parade marches while we've been milling about. During election season it's our angry mob versus their disciplined troops. Historically the mob hasn't faired so well under those circumstances.
Like the analogy of the closed fist, the `disciplined troops' of the right didn't happen overnight. It took a long time to get otherwise intelligent people to turn their backs on reason and embrace ideology at all costs. Don't make the mistake of assuming that all Republicans are stupid. They're not. They're just serially misinformed and have a mental `truth-detecting missile shield' fully deployed with 100% accuracy.
It's a process not entirely unlike brainwashing. The `drinking the kool-aid' analogy is chillingly more accurate than I'd like to admit. I'm going to try to take you inside the Republican mind so you can see what it looks like. It's what the inside of my own mind looked like just 18 months ago. I saved it to the internet a few months ago so I could show it off when I needed to. It's also my `backup' brain should I experience primary brain failure. I'll warn you, it's not pretty. It's dark, it drips this hate-filled, oil-like substance, and inexplicably it smells like day-old Papa Johns pizza.
So, I've got two pills here--a red one and a blue one. One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small...Take the one that makes you small. If you take the `big' one you're not going to fit inside my head.
[Your imagination is going to have to supply the appropriate `Going Inside Someone's Head' imagery]
So here it is! The Republican mind! See what I mean about the pizza smell? I think it has more to do with the fact that this was my `college' brain. Though some might argue that feeding my brain a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh is analogous to feeding it junk food.
You may be tempted to think that the sizzling sound you're hearing is an indication that my mind is on drugs. That's a common mistake. What you're hearing is the seething hatred I had for Bill Clinton, and that viscous black substance is the manifestation of that hatred. Careful! It's slippery!
The first thing you might notice is that this particular brain isn't the size of a walnut. That's a mistake we make a lot. We assume that the Republican detachment from reality is due to some form of functional mental retardation. But as you can see it's a perfectly average sized brain. It should be able to function normally. If you look closely you'll see some wiring that's not `factory original.' That's the elective surgery performed by the right-wing media. I'll get to that in a moment.
Wait a minute...where'd amprather go? Kids, we have got to stick together in here. This is a dangerous place! Some of you are running around like this a playground. It's a museum. Quit acting the fool. TrueBlueMajority, that's a corpus callosum, not a Slip-n-Slide TM. Maryscott, you put down my medulla oblongata this instant! Okay, that's it, everyone out of my head! OUT! Honestly, I can't take you kids anywhere. And I'd better not find any of you still holding on to pieces of my brain. Remember when you're inside someone's head take only photographs, and leave only footprints.
That wiring you saw was all part of the `right-wing reasoning chip,' which surrounds the `worldview' portion of the Republican brain. Its primary purpose is to apply a pass/fail test to any incoming information. This is important because, as any neurosurgeon will tell you, the `worldview' portion is upstream from the `critical thinking' portion of the brain. If information can't get past `worldview' then it has to take a long and perilous journey through the `soul search' mountains to get to `critical thinking.' Rarely does information survive such a journey. The secondary function of the chip is to project a negative image of itself on those who disagree with it. For example, "I think the sky is blue, therefore liberals think the sky is red."
I won't bore you with my staggering knowledge of neurochemistry. Suffice it to say I'm something of an expert in the field. Let me break it down and show you how it works. Let's say you, a liberal, tell your dittohead friend that we haven't found any WMDs in Iraq. That information moves along the brain until it hits the `right-wing reasoning chip.' It checks the brain's worldview to see if it matches. Worldview = no. Therefore the information must be faulty. The chip then sends a reply to the mouth, "Where'd you hear that?" There are three possible answers to this question. All three will satisfy the chips need for denial.
Answer #1: "I heard it on the news."
Chip's Response: "You can't trust anything the liberal media says. Information = False"
Answer #2: "It was in the Duelfer Report."
Chip's Response: "Rush said the Duelfer Report justified the war in Iraq. The liberal media is lying about the information in the report. Information = False"
Answer #3: "Bush said it last night on TV"
Chip's Response: "You're talking to a liberal. I tell the truth therefore liberals lie. Information = False"
Trust me when I say that there is literally an answer for everything. But you'll notice in any right-wing debate the first question they ask is "Where are you getting that? Where does that information come from?" If it comes from an `unfriendly' source, it can be immediately dismissed.
It gets a bit trickier when the information comes from some other source, like the administration itself. Take the Duelfer report for example. Here's what the report said. It's my summary, but I believe it's based on information that both side have accepted. No one is questioning what I'm saying in this summary. Okay, here goes...
Iraq had no WMDs when we invaded. In fact, Iraq hasn't had a stockpile of WMDs since 1998. The only things we've been able to find are bits and pieces of his old program. Saddam hoped to revive his program one day in the future, but wasn't going to do so for as long as there were sanctions in place.
A rational person would look at those findings quickly draw one conclusion: The sanctions were working. We could have used the international community as leverage, and likely could have forced changes without resorting to `go it alone' violence. There was no immediate danger, therefore the rush (as in `hurry', not `chubby addict') to war was completely unnecessary.
Even the `right-wing reasoning chip' might have come to that conclusion if it didn't receive some emergency reprogramming. The day the Duelfer report came out Rush was on the air saying "this totally justifies our going to war with Iraq! It confirms everything we knew to be true before we invaded!" The rest of the right-wing media followed suit. The chip was appeased. After all, the Duelfer report is over 1,000 pages long! Who's got time to read that!? "I'll just accept what Rush says, because I'm not going to read the report, and it's exactly what I want to hear."
So here's how the chip worked out all the cognitive dissonance: Saddam planned to start up his weapons program once sanctions were lifted. Since liberals were opposed to war, they had to be for the lifting of sanctions. Therefore if liberals had their way, Saddam would have resumed his WMD programs. Therefore thank God Bush invaded Iraq when he did, or liberals would have given him the bomb just like they did with China (Don't...ask. It's a whole other thing). The liberal media's interpretation of the Duelfer report is obviously a pathetic attempt to cover up the fact that they were wrong. Just like they always do.
See how effortless that was? Step 1-Project the opposite of my worldview on the liberal. I believe in going to war, so liberals must believe in lifting sanctions. Step 2-Find anything in the report that agrees with your worldview, and make that the central point of the report. Step 3-Chalk up any cognitive dissonance to `liberal bias.' And voila, an impenetrable wall has been erected between the `worldview' and `critical thought.' "Nothing I disagree with is getting by here!" the chip says, and then proceeds to do a little trick, stick a landing, and shout "Ta-da!"
"Well whoppity-do, isn't that great," Grandma Jo would say, "but how does that help US!?!?" Maybe I can provide an answer to that question this time. One of the easiest ways to get a shot past the chip is to craft arguments using only "trusted" sources. You can't effectively outflank the `right-wing reasoning' chip, but you can overload it. Kind of like Mudd's women. If enough contradictory information gets in there at one time, sometimes you can blow out the chip for brief periods. If you can make your entire argument out of numbers from Republican-controlled government agencies, the chip is helpless.
As an example I'll use a conversation I had with one of my dittohead friends. She is Pro-Life. I asked how she felt about abstinence-only education. She supported it, of course. I asked how she felt about the abortion rate steadily increasing under Bush while it decreased to historic lows under Clinton. "Don't be silly," she replied, "everyone knows abortions are at all-time lows under Bush." I asked where she was getting her information. She said, "it's just common knowledge!"
This is a common defense for Fox News viewers. It stems from Fox's ultimate source of journalistic authority--the nebulous `they.' "They say that Bush's abstinence-only program is really working, Brit," or "People are saying that Bush's strategy in Iraq was the right one." It's not even "sources," it's literally the stone-throned, toga-wearing, grey-bearded "They" of "They say." You know, They say that They live in the sky!
I asked if she knew that the government quit releasing numbers on abortion in 2000. She did not. I asked if she could think of a reason why the government would quit releasing that information if the news was good. She could not. I asked if she would be surprised to learn that the U.S. led the industrialized world in teen pregnancies. She was. I asked if she knew that information collected by various agencies indicated that abortion was at an all-time high in 16 states. She did not. "Where are you getting that information from?" Ah, I knew that chip would sound off sooner or later. Remember, no matter what answer you give, the chip will find sufficient reason to dismiss it.
Rather than take the bait I made her a deal. We would both find information that supported our particular view of the situation. We'd send it to each other in an email. I forwarded her the fabulous information found in this Daily Kos diary (the links, not the diary...the words `Daily Kos' in the link would have been enough to satisfy the chip's need for denial). After a while she still hadn't sent me anything. I asked what she thought about the info I provided. She said "I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree." Now the chip is getting desperate. This is its last line of defense. You may be tempted to stop here and declare victory. Don't.
"Tut, tut, tut," I replied. "We're all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts! It's put up or shut up time." See, the `agree to disagree' argument is intended to `muddy the waters.' If there's enough of a grey area then the chip can rationalize the dissonance away by saying, "well, who knows which side is right."
She replied that she really didn't have time to find out where her information came from, but she knew it was true. One could imagine smoke pouring out of the chip as it tried to fend off this assault. Luckily for me, this particular friend is a professor. I asked if that line of reasoning would hold up in her classroom. She said it would not. Begrudgingly she admitted that it was possible that President Bush's abstinence-only program might not be working...but she was still glad Bush won the election.
Man those `shields' snap back up pretty quick. But that didn't matter. What mattered was that the `abstinence-only education isn't working' information got past the chip, and into the `critical thinking' portion of the brain. Once it gets in there, it's in there for good. If I can land two or three more shots like that, she'll be well on her way to writing her own diary on Daily Kos.
If you want to be successful with a dittohead, you've got to be ready to force-feed him the red pill. He'll kick and scream and holler and scratch the dickens out of you if you're not careful. Use the Republican's own numbers to grab him by the scruff, force the pill into the corner of his mouth, hold his jaw shut, and blow on his nose until he swallows.
That's the key to victory. We've got to put together as many of these `chip-busting' arguments as we can. The beauty of it is that there's enough information provided by the CBO and the NIH and even the CIA to do it. That's how you blow out the chip for good...that or it'll cause them to have a massive brain hemorrhage. Well, you know, six of one half-dozen of the other.