Epistemic Closure

Democratic supporters of President Obama love to point and snicker at Fox News watching conservatives who refuse to entertain any ideas that challenge their right-wing world view. But, supporters of Barack Obama are just as prone to epistemic closure as conservatives. They believed that their progressive champion would solve all of our problems magically and when he did nothing of the kind, they blamed Republican obstruction rather than face the fact that they were played. Obama lied and had really good advertising, but the refusal to believe any of the obvious contradictions is what marks   the Obots epistemic closure.

The latest illumination of this phenomenon is the video of Obamacare architect Jon Gruber admitting that deceiving Americans was necessary to ensure its passage. The deception leading to the passage of the Affordable Care Act wasn’t that hard to see if you looked, but  supporters of Obama ridiculed anyone that dared to point this out.

“Leftists and sincere liberals were accused of being purists who do not live in the real world, who make the perfect the enemy of the good and fail to grasp the necessity of compromise to get things done.”

Of course, Republicans are going to hold “stupidity hearings” in response to this disclosure by Gruber.

Like I say, you can’t make this shit up.

What should be apparent is the contempt that both parties hold for their supporters. Republican–neoconservatives, follow the political philosophy of Leo Strauss to guide their deception, while Democratic–neoliberals, exalt Walter Lippmann’s idea of management of public opinion by wise technocratic experts. Neither party believes in democracy, it’s all an act.

Modern American policy follow from this logic. Both parties believe American voters are too stupid to understand complicated policy decisions, so they let banks and corporations formulate the policies since they’re the experts. Both parties also agree that government should enable this process. At Counterpunch, writer Rob Urie underscores this point about the Obama Administration’s passage of the ACA, but the same logic applies to the Republicans.

“Mr. Obama appointed industry and government ‘insiders’ to manage the process of getting an industry bill turned into law. But if private interests precede the public interest then in what way does promoting an industry bill not strengthen this relation? This entire approach to ‘public’ policy is radically undemocratic and its joint product is to put a ‘political’ wrapper on a health care industry give-away. As with the Wall Street bailouts, any actual benefit to the public is incidental. And this political wrapper proceeds from a neo-liberal conception of the public interest as the aggregation of individual ‘private’ interests.”

Urie goes on to explain how the Democratic Party, rather than providing an alternative to, has enabled right-wing policies.

“The corporate-neo-liberal programs increasingly found in state and local political races— privatization, the undermining of democratic institutions and the disappearance of the public realm under ‘fiscal’ constraints, is every bit as much the work of national Democrats as it is of ‘local’ Republicans. And part of the reason the selling of political outcomes under the guise of economic constraints has been so effective is that ‘liberal’ politicians like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have been selling right wing misdirection as liberal ‘fact’ for decades now.”

This perversion of American political discourse is a huge problem. It’s been so long since we’ve heard something explained as other than right-wing bullshit, that we don’t even know what it sounds like.

With Republicans controlling the next Congress, we are going to have an opportunity to see these crazy right-wing policies implemented openly rather than having the Democrats implement them surreptitiously. I for one think this will be illuminating, in that it will allow us to plumb the depths of Obama supporter’s epistemic closure. With a Republican controlled Congress, the Obots will have the opportunity to see how right-wing their erstwhile progressive champion really is. Obama came into office talking about bipartisanship and working with Republicans. Now he will have the chance to truly implement the plutocrat agenda that will enable him to leave office and cash out like Bill Clinton did. Paradoxically, Democrats like Obama can do what Republicans cannot, as Clinton demonstrated with welfare reform and the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

The next two years should be interesting.

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