Gravity's Rainbow

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How to elect Michele Bachmann

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Why a respectful tone in political discussions is really, really important:

Bachmann claimed that back in her college days, she was up one night praying with a female friend of hers when “the Lord gave each one of us the same, exact vision… It was a picture of me, marrying this man, in the valley where his parents have a farm in western Wisconsin.” Meanwhile, miles away, Marcus “was repairing a fence on the farm where he worked, and the Lord showed him in a vision that he was supposed to marry me.” According to Bachmann, Marcus initially complained to God that he wanted to see the world first, and only later relented.

Snickering readers in New York or Los Angeles might be tempted by all of this to conclude that Bachmann is uniquely crazy. But in fact, such tales by Bachmann work precisely because there are a great many people in America just like Bachmann, people who believe that God tells them what condiments to put on their hamburgers, who can’t tell the difference between Soviet Communism and a Stafford loan, but can certainly tell the difference between being mocked and being taken seriously. When you laugh at Michele Bachmann for going on MSNBC and blurting out that the moon is made of red communist cheese, these people don’t learn that she is wrong. What they learn is that you’re a dick, that they hate you more than ever, and that they’re even more determined now to support anyone who promises not to laugh at their own visions and fantasies. [emphasis mine]

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2 Comments

  1. The problem is that no matter how well one treats people like Bush, Palin and Bachmann, voters who support them will keep supporting them. Laugh at Bachmann, don’t laugh at Bachmann, the crazies won’t budge either way. The idea that if one treats them with enough understanding and respect they will see the light is completely wrong, in my opinion.

    • I do agree that many of the people who support politicians like Palin or Bachmann will never be swayed – no matter the tone of the discourse. But I do think that many others can. I grew up in a very conservative culture and believed a lot of completely nonsense things – and prayed for the politicians who supported those ideas. When I look back at why I changed, the atheists and liberals who were consistently respectful and kind in their discussions with me stand out, even if they didn’t sway me at the time. They didn’t give my positions a free pass, mind you, but they didn’t laugh at me or try to make me feel stupid.

      I’ve also seen some of my own very conservative relatives change over the years. The staunchest conservatives are the ones who feel like liberals are looking down on them with scorn and amusement.

      I also think it’s difficult to remain respectful because a major change in worldview can take decades, so it feels as if no progress is being made.

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