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Memo to Rick Santorum: Hey, Americans Need those Smart People

 
 
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Speaking at the socially conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington DC today, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made a commentthat may be as long-remembered as his remark about Man-on-Dog sexual relations.

 

"We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."

In fairness, I think that this quote doesn't come off quite as badly if you put it within the full context of his remarks. Taken in total isolation from the rest of his speech, it really becomes completely farcical.

Yet, to some degree, it invites us to isolate it from everything else because it's not a misstatement. It's actually a logical peg in his argument. Forget about the 'elite' part of it for a moment. Let's focus on the 'smart' part of it. What Santorum is saying is that regular folks of average intelligence are the backbone of this country, and their values are traditional American values that are essential to making America a special and worthwhile place. And I agree with Rick Santorum about all of that.

Where I differ is on the implications of that observation. The values of regular folks are solid, but their grasp of facts may not be. We need scientists and experts to help us make good decisions. We need them to educate us. We need leaders to listen to them. When our values turn out to conflict with science, or our beliefs turn out to lack expertise, we need to defer to smart people.

Think about the vehicle we just landed on Mars. Does Rick Santorum have any idea how to land a vehicle on Mars? Does he know how his cell phone works? Can he rewire his house without getting electrocuted? Does he have any idea how the Google search engine works? If you dropped Rick Santorum into a time machine and delivered him to 1865, would he be able to make a light bulb or an internal combustion engine or create an antibiotic or cure Polio?

The truth is, almost none of us could do any of those things because we don't know shit compared to our scientists and experts.

Whether we are relatively smart or not, we don't know shit. So, we rely on our values to see us through. And that's fine. Most of our values make sense and have worked in human societies for thousands of years. But when people tell us not to eat wild mushrooms because they might be poisonous, we listen to them, don't we? Because they know better than we do. That doesn't make them more virtuous, and it doesn't mean that they know better than we do on every subject.

But to align yourself against smart people as if they are the enemy? That's crazy. Without smart people, Rick Santorum would be trying and failing to start a fire in some cave in the Kentucky mountains. So would most of you. So would I.

A political movement based on pride in being stupid is really stupid.

Finally, Rick Santorum is probably the only politician in America who thinks our problem is that our elites are too smart. In fact, I don't know any smart people who think that.

Booman Tribune / By Booman

Posted at September 17, 2012, 6:29am