Common Sense

Today, me and the wife were out walking on a plot of land next to the river. We had an interesting conversation with someone who, at first, sounded intelligent, and I’m sure thought of himself as intelligent. But while explaining in some detail about all of the mountains and lands in the southeast he has traversed, he also related that the people who owned the land we were standing on were African American, but that they didn’t seem like they were up to something. And how he taught himself chemistry and geology and used to take groups of people on field trips but can’t any more because people are so politically correct. And how patriotic he was. And how he didn’t appreciate revisionist history (but not which side of it he was on). And how common sense was disappearing. I asked him if he was a professor and he said that professors were all… a little too much… airy and all… (couldn’t quite articulate his issues with professors). He told me he was a truck driver. By the way, he’s wearing spandex leggings and a pair of blue jean shorts over them that’s three sizes too big. It’s 20 degrees outside.

Every time I discuss something with someone from the right, before the conversation devolves into conspiracy theories, alternate facts, or alternate realities, they always mention how all that book learning has eroded my common sense.

So us learned group of elites have lost these magical abilities that the working, middle class folk have somehow found a way to hang on to. You see, on the spectrum of knowledge, there’s a point you get to where you need to slow down a little, stop gaining all this understanding, and start listening to Fox News, Kid Rock, and preachers. But be careful, because if you read one too many books after you hit that magical threshold of alt-right knowledge, you become… an elite.

There’s this story about an eighteen wheeler that tried to go under a bridge and got stuck. All these engineers and “smart” people tried to figure out how to get it out, but couldn’t. That is, until this old country boy came along and asked them why they didn’t just let the air out of the tires? The people who believe this fable will shake their heads knowingly. Yep. A simple solution is all you need. Not some engineer overthinking things with all his bookish knowledge. A yarn where the simple man is somehow smarter than the more educated man. The problem with this narrative is that, in the realm of public policy at least, it’s bullshit 98% of the time.

I can’t sit here and tell you, as a software developer, that I don’t overthink things. I do. I get paid to do so. And it is true that sometimes I will take an issue with a simple solution and derive a much more complicated path to solving it than was necessary. But remember, we’re talking about “common” sense. Something everyone should share, factory workers and scientists alike should all be on the same page. So common sense should be, well, common.

Sense – a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems

Everyone should have access to healthcare. This makes sense, but not to the Gallant Old Party, so I would argue that it’s not common.

You shouldn’t separate children from their parents, possibly forever, and place them in cages for fleeing dangerous environments. Republicans can tell you why this makes sense. So again, not common sense.

Climate change is real. Hundreds of thousands of scientists agree. The Right thinks it’s a hoax. That the industries of 7.6 billion people produce no lasting changes on the planet. So, not common sense. The list goes on and on and on.

These people think their cups are overflowing with common sense. They are not. They’re empty, bone dry, hollow recepticals that are filled instead with narcissism, fear, racism, and ignorance. Letting some air out of a truck’s tires means nothing if you don’t believe in science and have no empathy.

So can we please put this bullshit idea to bed that conservatives can run the country better because they, at some point, decided to stop learning? I concede that maybe the good ole country boy could solve the bridge problem quicker than me. But our nation is not a set of truck tires. It’s slightly more complicated.