Saturday, June 29, 2013

Liberals Love Me, This I Know

I respect and admire Wendy Davis for her thirteen-hour filibuster against a nasty bill in the Texas Lege that would not only have made abortions much harder to get, it would have sharply reduced access to health care for women, since the clinics that would have had to close didn't only do abortions.  She's worked hard and overcome a lot of obstacles, such as being a teenaged single mother, and the firebombimg of her office by political terrorists in the Lone Star State.  All this should be enough, but I've been seeing calls on Facebook that she should run for President of the US; more realistically, Daily Kos wants her to run for Governor of Texas.  I'm not signing the latter petition since I'm not a Texan, and I don't know whether she'd make a good President.  But on reflection I realize that "Now she should run for President!" is just stuff that empty headed people say to express their happiness.  They don't actually mean anything by it.  It doesn't mean that they've put any thought into the matter.

The meme above, though, shared by one of my liberal friends, crossed the line for me.  Most obviously: Really?  A Harvard Law School degree qualifies you to pronounce on Constitutional issues?  We have before us the example of our Constitutional scholar of a president, also a Harvard Law grad, whose grasp of constitutionality is sketchy at best.  For that matter, the Supreme Court's resident antigay bigot, Antonin Scalia, has a bachelor's from Harvard Law, so his opinions on the constitutionality of sodomy and same-sex marriage must outweigh all the liberal laypeople who've been baying for the overturning of DOMA and Proposition 8, right?  Remember that in 1986, state sodomy laws were constitutional according to the Court, the body whose job it is to decide such questions; in 2003, they suddenly stopped being constitutional.  Constitutionality isn't something like the atomic weight of carbon; it's a judgment, and judgments are debatable, even by the experts.

I also remembered the gay Vietnam veteran, Bob Garon, who told candidate Mitt Romney that the latter's opposition to same-sex marriage meant that Romney did "not believe everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights."  As far as I can tell, Bob Garon doesn't have a degree from Harvard Law, or from any law school.  But all the people who cheered his in-your-face encounter with Romney were happy to overlook his lack of qualification to pronounce on the topic.  And that was perfectly appropriate, because you don't have to be minimally informed to express an opinion, as the commenters on this article about Garon show abundantly.

Rick Perry, by contrast with Wendy Davis, is surely a swine.  But as a successful politician, he doubtless has many advisors who are qualified to tell him whether a law is constitutional or not.  They may well be wrong, as legal and other experts often are, and no doubt Perry favors advisors who tell him what he wants to hear.  Rather like President Obama, who felt obligated to defend the Defense of Marriage Act for the first several years of his presidency, until he decided (on principle, I'm sure) to stop defending it.  His insistence, picked up by his apologists, that it was his duty as President to support and defend any all laws before the Supreme Court, was false (another example of his sketchiness about Constitutional law).

But if Perry took positions that Obama Democrats liked, they'd be equally happy to overlook his poor academic record.  What angers me about this meme, which is reminiscent of another one I've discussed, is that it reveals the selective snobbery of Obamabots, their contempt for those who, they like to believe, are Stoopid, uneducated hillbillies who marry their cousins if not their siblings, and not wise, well-educated responsible voters whose positions are determined by reason, evidence, and the qualifications of the politicians they support.  That they are really quite ignorant and irrational themselves is something they prove, eagerly, on a daily basis.  And that's why we can't have nice things.

It isn't that I don't respect expertise; I do.  But expertise isn't defined by where you went to school, or even how many years you went.  I also know that experts disagree with each other.  In the case of the Supreme Court, their status may have been achieved through politics rather than real expertise or excellence.  Sometimes they say things that are blatantly false, or irrational.  So what are we non-experts to do?  We can inform ourselves about the issues that matter to us.  We can learn to think critically, which includes learning how to see the gaps in our own knowledge and flaws in our reasoning; that's why I keep urging that critical thinking needs to be taught from elementary school onwards.  It doesn't matter what it's called; it needn't even be a separate subject, since it will be part of most subjects.  In any case, my liberal acquaintances keep showing that they either never learned to think analytically and critically, or don't bother to use what they learned.  (Maybe, like our civil liberties, it is too precious actually to be used; using it would get it all dirty.)  And as with learning to think about race, it's not important to learn to think critically to avoid my getting all up in your face, it's important for its own, and for everyone's sake.