By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/27/2021
Posted: 2/24/2006
Topics/Keywords: #CurrentEvents Page Views: 3480
Should our government be run by emotions, or facts?
A runaway bride.

It was almost a year ago that Jennifer Wilbanks, a young woman who was about to get married, instead embarked on a cross-country journey on which she claimed to have been abducted, but in fact had merely freaked out over her impending wedding. Worse, she didn't do this on the spur of the moment; she had purchased a ticket to Las Vegas several days before and had even arranged for a friend to drive her to the bus station.

Most of us, when we heard the whole story, could have easily ticked off more rational solutions to the problem:

  1. Explain to parents and fiancÚ that she was having second thoughts and that postponing the event would be the prudent thing to do.

Well, okay, there's actually just one sensible alternative to pretending to be abducted instead of attending one's own wedding. But why in the world did this alternative apparently not occur to the beleaguered Ms. Wilbanks?

Even a cursory observation of the human race shows there to be a major division: Those who can think and feel, and those who can only feel. (There are also a few people who can only think, but they are a small minority known as sociopaths and are mostly found in Washington, DC.)

Among those who can think and feel, a disproportionate amount seem to be folks who self-identify as "liberals". This is not to say that there are no conservatives who can think, but at the current time the vast majority of those who can only feel are also calling themselves conservatives and therefore comprise the majority of folks who bear that label.

This has not always been so, and will not always be so. In the 1970s the evidence shows that a lot of liberals gave in to emotion and supported emotional solutions to issues whose facts didn't bear them out. Nuclear power, for example—there are a lot of complex aspects, pro and con, regarding the generating of nuclear power; but we didn't hear about them in the '70s. Instead, enough people who didn't understand the difference between "nuclear power" and "nuclear bombs" used the incident at Three Mile Island—during which no one died or was even injured—to put a stop to the construction of any new nuclear power plants in the United States from then to now. Our current dependence on foreign oil is at least partly a result of this anti-nuclear stance.

This was a purely emotional response. And that's my point. Instead of intelligently examining the various issues and coming to a reasoned conclusion, the majority of Americans figuratively hopped on a bus for Las Vegas rather than try to solve the actual problem. People who demanded a moratorium on nuclear power plants generally self-identified as liberals, while those who couldn't understand the unreasoning terror of anything using the N word self-identified as conservatives.

That pendulum has swung completely to the other side.

These days, the folks with the runaway emotions are so frightened of the T word—terrorists—that they are willing to support anything anyone proposes to contain this largely imaginary threat. Attack a country other than the one the terrorists supposedly came from? Sure, let's do that twice! Gather up pedestrians, transport them to a gulag and torture them to death? Sure, they deserve it! Strip civil liberties from the Constitution? Look the other way while Diebold voting machines manufacture Republican votes with the measured rapidity of bird shot emitting from Dick Cheney's shotgun? Jeopardize the safety of your own CIA agent by leaking her name to a newspaper reporter and then denying it? Go! Go, team, go!

This idea that today's conservatives have a team is a pretty accurate analogy. The fans are the voters. The players are the Republican members of Congress, Republican state governors and legislators. The president is the quarterback. And the cheerleaders, of course, are the conservative talk show hosts and bloggers who, like sports cheerleaders, can do anything they like with impunity as long as they get and keep the attention of the fans.

In the sports world, everyone knows that the fans are thrown for a loop when a player switches teams. They accuse him of being disloyal, a turncoat, a person without convictions. The player, of course, is simply a businessman in the sensible pursuit of increasing his salary. The players, you see, are not subject to the emotional tidal wave that sweeps along their fans and cheerleaders. All that team spirit actually resides everywhere but in the team, itself.

The same is true in politics. Do you think George W. Bush, a man who's admitted he never reads a newspaper or watches TV news, tunes in to Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter? Well, maybe; but he isn't swayed by their emotional rhetoric because he, himself, is not a person who feels. Neither is he one who thinks and feels.

Like most politicians, Bush is a thinker only—albeit not the brightest in the Republican galaxy. That makes him a sociopathic personality, a man without a conscience or any empathy whatsoever. Among Republicans and Democrats alike, he is hardly alone in this—it seems to be a state that lends itself to a life in politics.

But this week, when it was announced that the company that would be taking over operations at six American ports was owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates, the folks who laundered money for al Qaeda and sheltered Osama bin Laden; and when Bush announced that they posed no security threat and that he would veto any attempt to prevent their moving in—the conservative fans reacted the way sports fans react to a baseball player switching sides. Bush's approval rating, not high to begin with, hit the dirt like Harry Whittington on a quail hunt and he seemed to be puzzled. And so were the cheerleaders. Rarely have we had as president a person who so perfectly portrayed those with runaway emotions (and an inability to think) as Bush, who is unusually dimwitted for a sociopath. That's why they love him so; they truly believe he is one of them, although he isn't. And now, suddenly, he is changing teams.

All this time, Bush thought the feeling he was engendering in his fans was loyalty. But it wasn't; it was fear. What do we make of it when Bush turns his back on the very emotion he encouraged so well, telling us that turning our ports over to the enemy is "nothing to worry about." And the emotional conservatives, who only know feelings and cannot think this through, don't know what to do about it.

I have a suggestion. I suggest they all take a bus to Las Vegas (a city that prospers by catering to those who feel but can't think) and pretend to be abducted.

Then maybe the rest of us can do something about cleaning up this mess.