Thanks Greg for an eloquent and well-reasoned article. For me the most fascinating aspect of modern times is being able to watch the intentional self-destruction of an entire nation. I don’t think we’ve had a similar opportunity since the long collapse of the Roman Empire. It’s a salutary example of how short-term opportunism tends to create long-term catastrophes that are exponentially greater than any minor benefits accrued by those inducing the harm. Republicans have explicitly been targeting the less intellectually able since the 1968 Nixon campaign so it’s entirely understandable their posture is anti-science and anti-truth. After all, they’re largely funded by major corporations whose products are deeply harmful (big tobacco, fossil fuel industry, processed food companies, NRA, etc.) and they rely on a constant bloc of voters who are mostly ignorant and foolish. The long-term problem, of course, is that cultivating short-term benefits results in the collapse of the very society their children and grand-children will be forced to live in. This cost, however, is invisible to those who can act today, for our primate brains are largely wired on the premise that “tomorrow never comes.”
What is deeply troubling for me is not the self-inflicted collapse of the USA but the fact so many cynical politicians around the world have realized that similar tactics can afford them short-term advantage too. Thus Western civilization in general may well cease to exist within the next century as we cultivate and then pander to the worst aspects of human nature, all so a few blustering incompetents can briefly enjoy the trappings of power and the great mass of less thoughtful people can briefly feel themselves part of a self-righteous mob.