[stupid is as stupid does]
Nearly 30% of Americans believe the Sun goes around the Earth. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. (And for the those who believe the superiority of European culture over Americans, please note that 1 in 3 members of the EU believe the same erroneous thing. And for those of you reading this who believe the Sun goes around the Earth, please note that 1 in 3 is a higher percentage than 30%.)
Now, if this scientifically illiteracy is distinctly understood, you will understand why political campaigns look the way they do. And why?
Because, sure, people want to claim they base their political choices on facts and rational judgements. But, the truth is: they don’t. And why?
Because a sizable portion of the population is stupid.
I wish there were another way to state it. I am, after all, part of the home team on this planet. Remember that wacky uncle everyone tries to avoid on holiday gatherings? He’s like these people who have seemed to missed the last 450 years of scientific observations. Hell, even the Pope has come clean on the heliocentric theory and apologized about the tiff the Church had with Galileo’s promotion of it — albeit about 400 years too late. Then again, this was just a “theory” after all. How was the Pope to know it meant it was a fact? (Psssst! Evolution is a theory, too. Just like Gravity.)
Unfortunately, these stupid people, who believe the Sun goes around the Earth, can help decide elections. More on these morons in a moment.
The art of jujitsu is based on the idea that the best offense is to use your opponent’s offense against him. Why use your own energy when your opponent’s will do? In politics, this maneuver is much more difficult than it looks. But if you are part of the Democratic party in a state that is rather conservative, you need to be good at it to survive. Sen Claire McCaskill is a Democrat in Missouri — a Red State based on the way it swung in the past 4 presidential elections (it went against Pres Obama in 2008).
You better believe Sen McCaskill understands the politics of dancing. She couldn’t still be in the dance hall otherwise. Her Senate seat is being competed this year and there were an array of Republicans eager to (a) win the primary in the hopes of (b) gaining her seat.
What did Sen McCaskill do in response? Like all good politicians, she learned from history. And history says a cancer has developed on the Republican Party. It’s called the Tea Party. And it has done more damage to the GOP than anything the Democrats could ever have imagined inflicting. In the 2010 election, the Tea Party cost the GOP at least two Senate seats. So, Sen McCaskill decided she wanted to run in the general election against the most extreme Republican in the primary field — the Tea Party candidate, Rep Todd Akin. And 3 weeks before the GOP primary, she ran this ad:
Question: why would Sen McCaskill run this unusual ad before facing any GOP challenger? Answer: It makes Rep Akin look like the best choice for Tea Party enthusiasts. In fact, the comment section of the video bears this out: the Sun-around-Earth folks came out in droves thanking Sen McCaskill for advertising for Rep Akin. And the result of this “free” advertising? Rep Todd Akin easily won the crowded primary field three weeks later by a 6 point margin.
Mission accomplished. The lips-move-when-silently-reading crowd didn’t have a clue they were played. For McCaskill figured that since Akin could say things like:
I oppose the attempts of homosexual activists to treat homosexual activity as a civil right to be protected and promoted by the government.
it was just a matter of time before he would drop a true doozy of a comment and blow the race wide open. After all, when someone is an a-hole, you know that some serious crap will pass through him sooner or later; it’s just the nature of being an a-hole. Make no mistake, McCaskill is in a tough race. As little as a week ago, she was behind in some polls by double digits (11%) — this is a troubling gap for any politician.
But that was last week.
This weekend, Rep Akin came through with the type of verbal diarrhea that could only explode from a radical extremist. He was both anti-woman (“legitimate rape”) and anti-science (magic protection mechanisms against “legitimate rape”) all within a single paragraph! McCaskill’s ad paid off: she’s boxed in the Missouri GOP by getting its worst candidate to represent it. Even if Rep Akin withdraws (insert tasteless sex joke here), it is not trivial to replace him — and his political organization — with barely 10 weeks until the election. It’s as if whoever represents the GOP in the Senate race has tripped right out of the starting block. That type of thing is hard to recover from.
Sen McCaskill pwned the Missouri GOP by using the Missouri Tea Party. Political jujitsu at its finest. The most enthusiastic (and stupid) of right-wing extremists in the Republican party helped the Democratic party towards victory.
Sen McCaskill will probably have no further intercourse with these Sun-around-Earth voters, but she knew how to use them at the polls and provide Christmas in August, if any politician alive possessed the knowledge. And so, as Kate Smith observed, God Bless America!
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