Actually, they are EXACTLY as dumb as they appear
Ever wonder how politicians can cling to ideas and policies well past the point of absurdity, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Are they stupid, blind, or lying to us about their real views?
I've always suspected the answer is YES to all three. But now there is research that backs up that premise.
According to a long-term study by Bob Altemeyer, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Manitoba, an unsettling number of politicians in both Canada and the US have strongly right-wing authoritarian (RWA)world views.
And Professor Altemeyer's research reveals there are RWA followers and RWA leaders. Here's a quote:
"authoritarian followers drive through life under the influence of impaired thinking a lot more than most people do, exhibiting sloppy reasoning, highly compartmentalized beliefs, double standards, hypocrisy, self-blindness, a profound ethnocentrism, and--to top it all off--a ferocious dogmatism that makes it
unlikely anyone could ever change their minds with evidence or logic. These seven deadly shortfalls of authoritarian thinking eminently qualify them to follow a would-be dictator.
Altemeyer also identifies a group he calls social dominators. These happy folk hold one goal only - power. They will tell any lie, sell out any cause and in short will do anything immoral or even illegal (if they think they won't get caught) to grab and hold on to power. Many politicians are what he calls 'Double High's' i.e. high in authoritarian tendencies and high in Social Dominance.
Social dominators tend to drift to the RWA-types, for the simple reason they ARE simple - easy to lead and mislead, easy to manipulate through fear of 'the enemy', and unlikely to look behind the curtain to see the truth. In fact they will hold their beliefs in the face of overwhelming proof to the contrary, because they are poor reasoners and thinkers.
Here's another quote from the professor:
"In Canada as well as in the United States then, when you're talking about conservative members of legislatures, the data we have so far indicate you?re usually talking about those fine power-hungry, amoral, manipulative, deceitful, highly prejudiced, dogmatic folks , the Double Highs."
I think this pretty much explains the travesty that politics has become in North America, with lying leaders supported by their trained clapping seals in the legislature. Their single principle is to acquire power, by any means necessary. And their idiotic followers can happily hold conflicting and hypocritical points of view to make sure they don't have to actually think about the nonsense their leaders spout.
If you want to scare the bejesus out of your self, you can read more about Professor Altemeyer's research at this link