After watching all day on Facebook and elsewhere the breathtaking cognitive dissonance and utter stupidity of conservatives after the (quite frankly surprising) Supreme Court decision today regarding the Affordable Care Act, I'm more convinced than ever that conservatives have different brains than moderates and liberals. The conservative brain is defined by its enormous sensitivity to fear. They are afraid of anything different, anything they can't control, anything that might make them have to acknowledge that other people have different experiences and opinions. Their fear response helps explain their penchant for accepting all the myths they've been fed all their lives: the myth of the American Dream, the myth of American Exceptionalism, the myth of Ronald Reagan (their great prophet who said "Government is the problem, not the solution"), the myth of Jesus (anyone who has actually studied the sayings and teachings of pure biblical Christianity would realize that Jesus would be a liberal Democrat were he to suddenly appear in the 21st century). You only have to look at Arizona to see that fear in action. There's a state government convinced they are being over-run by illegal immigrants from Mexico, when the facts say the opposite is true: No one from Mexico is crossing the border to Barbarian Land today. And 5 or 10 years ago when illegal immigration was at its height, those same immigrants were welcomed victims of economic exploitation by the well-to do who profited from their below-minimum-wage labor.
It's much more sad than funny. Even the Buzzfeed post of conservatives vowing to move to Canada is really a very sad reminder that these people live in a reality-challenged world. To them, myths are reality and facts are the conspiratorial products of liberal intellectuals who somehow have more power than the ultra-rich corporations who are the real rulers of America. One conservative on Facebook said "I'm scared shitless what Obama will do," and I thought, "Why are you afraid of Republican policy?" She is afraid of anyone who is different in any way, anyone who thinks at all. She seems to believe that anyone who disagrees with any of her myths is being "mean" and "hateful," no matter how politely you word your response.
I honestly don't understand how anyone could be so paranoid, but I don't have a hyper-sensitive fear response. But yes, people in the civilized world pay higher taxes for universal health care. Yes, sometimes people in the civilized world have to go on a waiting list for non-emergency medical services. But they do not have to pay high personal health insurance costs, and no one has to worry about suffering from financial hardship simply because they got sick, so they end up with a higher standard of living. Here in Barbarian Land, it's everyone for themselves. Fearful people tend to be more selfish.
And now, 30 years after Reagan began this anti-reality movement in the American populace, we've crossed a threshold that will be very difficult, pretty much impossible, to return from. Facts don't mean anything to these people, and trying to point out the hypocrisy and the senselessness and the foolishness of their opinions is futile. For years, public opinion polls have shown that the majority of Americans agree with liberal positions but vote based on personal fear.
I keep hoping the political tide will turn back to the left. Historically, these great pendulum swings of American public opinion last about a generation. My hope is that as the Baby Boomers slowly recede into nursing homes and graveyards, their grandchildren will be less fearful, more inclined to see facts as facts and not conspiracies against their parents' ideology.
Usually, these shifts are triggered by economic shocks. We saw the beginnings of it last summer with the Occupy Movement, but until the 99% (it's more like 80%--20% are yuppie types who live comfortably just outside the gated communities and only care about the new Old Navy opening in the mall down the street and whether they left their smart phone in their land Rover) can articulate the struggles of those left behind by stagnant wages and crippling personal debt and offer concrete solutions (besides protesting in the streets), the fearful conservatives will continue to define the debate.