How did it happen? Susan Collins, a seemingly sensitive person who is pro-choice on abortion rights, disses Christine Blasey-Ford’s a contention that she was sexually abused by Brett Kavanaugh. Is Collins (a) insensitive to the history of women not being believed when men say something contrary, (b) simply a poor judge of character (who could not see Kavanaugh as a bully), or (c) just a Republican who has a very different way of looking at life from the way others do?
Not too many years ago, there was a great deal written about the Republican Brain. In fact, Chris Mooney, now a Washington Post reporter, wrote a book in 2012 called The Republican Brain. Six years earlier, he wrote a book called The Republican War on Science.
It’s not as if in recent times the importance of party affiliation has been ignored. More and more commentators are saying that political party reflects the greatest fissures in our society – more so than gender, race, educational levels, economic levels, or anything else. It’s my team vs. your team. All that matters is winning. In the case of Republicans, that may be at all costs; Democrats may have a few reservations about a cut-throat victory.
There are calls for bi-partisanship, but they are generally at the level of kumbaya. Dems and Repubs can share a softball diamond (actually the baseball field at Nationals Park) and play ball without dirty plays at 2nd base or home plate. They can work together to grovel for pork in their home districts or states. But can they actually share a meal? Perhaps more significantly, can they even share a joke?
This last question may provide a window into the differences between Democrats and Republicans. It strikes me that humor for progressives is often self-deprecating. For Republicans, it seems to be harsh and mean. I don’t have the empirical evidence for this, but that’s my point. There is so much that needs to be studied.
I have tried to communicate with the Washington Post’s Chris Mooney, but to no avail. He is a dogged environmental reporter and certainly in the era of Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt and others, his plate is full. But he brought a very scholarly and conversational approach to what makes Republicans different and unique. If he does not want to carry on that torch, then someone else needs to.
Here are a few questions that I think need to be addressed:
- Why is it that so many Republican women were more likely to believe Brett Kavanaugh than Christine Blasey-Ford?
- Why did the likes of seemingly mild-mannered people like Jeff Flake and Susan Collins say that if they were in Kavanaugh’s position, they too would be angry? Or, in other words, why did they base these statements on a “given” that “being in his position” means being falsely accused? Does it even register to them that Dr. Blasey-Ford may be telling the truth and Kavanaugh is more than a bully; he is an abuser.
- Why was Lindsey Graham’s anger considered so becoming?
- Why is Donald Trump’s outrage considered charming?
- Why do so many Republicans so fervently support family values when they promote policies that break up families?
- Why is it that Republicans oppose regulations on campaign finance when it adds to their personal misery of having to spend endless hours raising money?
- Why is it that Republicans favor lowering taxes for the wealthy in order to provide less revenue to fund programs for the non-wealthy?
- What is it about science that Republicans don’t like?
- Why are Republicans so anti-regulation and at the same time so anti-choice?
- Why do most political scandals involve Republicans (e.g. Watergate, Trumpgate, etc.)?
If I was more of an academic person, I would try to provide answers to these questions supported with substantiation. Right now, there are thousands, probably tens of thousands of academics who are working on studies that will be of little interest to anyone and that will not do much to improve the quality of life for anyone.
I’m happy to keep providing questions. So are many more. But we need answers, even approximations, now so that those who are not Republicans can gain greater insight into why Republicans are the way they are.
I don’t even know if Republicans have this kind of curiosity about Democrats; put that on the list of questions.
Please let us know if you want to help us find some answers to these often vexing questions about Republicans.