Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Evolution the New Litmus Test?

When Scott Walker "punted" on the question of whether he believes in evolution or not when he was on a visit to the UK "polishing his foreign-policy credentials," is it possible that A) he couldn't admit that he didn't believe in evolution, or B) his people had focus-group tested the question and discovered that Walker was in dangerous waters?

We may never know now that Walker has shown that his go-to answer to difficult questions is "I don't know if..." But thanks to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, we've discovered that 49 percent of Republicans don't believe in evolution. Add in the 13 percent that "don't know," and that's 62 percent of GOPers that don't believe in evolution or don't know.

I suspect that belief in evolution won't be a deal-breaker for the eventual Republican nominee in 2016, but if this is a new litmus test, the occupants of the 2016 clown car are going to be a very funny lot indeed. Will evolution be a required question in the coming debates? If so, holy shit.

On a serious note, with a political party that can make trouble for the nation going forward on issues like climate change or the environment in general, the U.S. is going to face a giant struggle building a responsible consensus for saving the planet.

How many Republicans are more focused on the End of Days than on saving the planet? How many take the presidency of Barack Obama as a sign that the Four Horsemen are upon us? What if those questions are not just spurious attempts to belittle the party that currently controls both the Congress and the Supreme Court but rather statements of likely facts that determine where our country is headed?

Since the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party -- read "the hardcore base" of the party -- came to the forefront of American politics in 2010, anti-intellectualism, anti-science, and anti-critical-thinking have reshaped much of our political culture.

Wow. Have we got work to do.

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