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The Age of Village Idiotism

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Americans — no matter their age, gender, means, situation, education or ideology — appear to have stopped thinking. In honor of Thanksgiving, let's call it the Stuffing for Brains Syndrome.

The clock had not even struck 12:01 on the morning of Nov. 7 before more than a few prominent Republicans and conservatives had adopted the liberal narrative (and some, verbatim, the Democrats' talking points) that the GOP fared so poorly on Election Day because it had become the party of cranky, old, racist, out-of-touch and otherwise useless white men.

“We must change our ways,” was the general message from the vanquished mass of elephants sprinting so fast away from Mitt Romney that surely they had gotten into Lance Armstrong's doping chest.

But in the process they seemed to also eschew the very rock-ribbed principles required for the foundation of “inclusion.”

That would include orderly, controlled and legal immigration; free markets that keep markets and all they affect in the necessary success-failure equilibrium so critical to a functioning capitalist economy, one that offers everyone an equal opportunity for prosperity; and the kind of limited government that facilitates so many things, from private economic growth to personal independence instead of government dependence.

That so many Republicans and conservatives have adopted the liberals' false narrative suggests they had a quite poor understanding of conservatism to begin with.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 8-7 Thursday last that Michigan's 2006 voter-approved ban of affirmative action is unconstitutional.

Michigan voters rejected discrimination in the name of ending discrimination and amended their state Constitution to reflect that.

But banning affirmative action, the court majority said, violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection because it unfairly placed a special burden on supporters of race-conscious admissions.

That “special burden”? The same “long, expensive and arduous process” of amending the Michigan Constitution that foes of affirmative action — a majority of the electorate — employed to ban it.

Ah, yes, another example of “progressive” critical thinking skills.

Speaking of critical thinking skills, or a lack thereof, presidential mouthpiece Jay Carney denied Mr. Romney's contention that President Obama won re-election, in part or largely, because he doled out special “gifts” to special interests in key demographics and/or in key cohorts of those dependent on government, such as offering to forgive a portion of college loans.

Said Mr. Carney, “(M)aking it easier for Americans to go to college — that's good for America. It's good for all Americans. It's good for the economy.”

How does making college loans more scarce — which is what happens when the right of contract is suspended and the government expects lenders to not recoup the loans' principal and cost — make it easier for Americans to go to college?

How is forcing lending institutions to make loans, some at a loss, good for the economy?

Concomitantly, how are taxpayer-subsidized college loans that give institutions of higher learning cover to raise costs far in excess of inflation good for either?

As 19th-century political economist John Stuart Mill once put it, “A stupid person's notions and feelings may confidently be inferred from those which prevail in the circle by which the person is surrounded.”

That America appears to be widening the circle and embarking on a new Age of Village Idiotism is most unbecoming of republicanism.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or

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