Our country (for quite good reasons) has vanishing respect for authority.’Authority is respected when authority is respectable’. Our leaders and authorities too often are compromised, venal, sociopaths primarily interested in enriching themselves. Most people now assume government and business lie to them continually, and they are mostly correct.
So, it should be no surprise that authorities and experts are increasingly attacked or ignored, while anyone who can post on social media is assumed to have a equal authority to experts who has studied the subject at hand for twenty years. This is dangerous and leads to idiocies like mothers not vaccinating their children, putting the health of others in the area at risk.
This mindset leads to ideological entrenchments like Obamabots and Tea Party members trading insults and refusing to listen to anyone but themselves. It also leads to stupidities like the “check your privilege” rubbish where anyone born above a poverty level is presumed to be untrustworthy and captive to their class. History shows otherwise. Leaders of revolutions are almost always from wealthy families. Their privilege gave them the time to understand what was wrong with their society. Plus, they had an insider’s view of how it operates. Lenin, Fidel Castro, Che, Mao, Karl Marx all came from prosperous families. The problem isn’t about privilege per se, it’s about what one does with it.
In a society that no longer has trustworthy leaders, people start searching for new answers and solutions. That’s a primary reason for the Tower of Babel that passes for social and political discourse now. This doesn’t mean the American people are dumb, quite the opposite. They know something has gone badly wrong.
Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge. It assuredly does not mean that “everyone’s opinion about anything is as good as anyone else’s.” And yet, this is now enshrined as the credo of a fair number of people despite being obvious nonsense.
The U.S. is being overrun by a wave of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking. Has the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?
No, maybe it hasn’t. Maybe Americans are trying to figure out what to do in a time when traditional institutions are collapsing.
But I also worry about the tendency to dismiss the American people as a bunch of idiots. In truth, I find that average Americans are often more aware of what’s wrong with our country than the better educated are, though they are frequently unable to exactly articulate our national problems. But they get, deeply, that something just ain’t right here, and it hardly furthers debate to portray such common people, who unlike our cautious-lipped elites are often willing to state obvious truths fearlessly, as idiots. Which is exactly what both Left and Right do. There has developed a near-universal hunt for false consciousness among one’s political opponents, and it is cancerous.