Not THAT again.
More “right-wing epistemic closure” rhetoric. It’s all the rage these days in the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss (keeping a large House majority and gaining in the States conveniently is ignored or belittled).
The theory goes that the “right wing” lives in a media bubble and ignores contrary information. I already have demonstrated this is not true.
But wait, questioning the epistemic closure argument means I have epistemic closure. Drats!
The latest is by Bruce Bartlett in The American Conservative, who makes some good points about the Bush administrations mistakes in expanding government. He practically sounds like a Tea Partier at times in discussing the fiscal and political irresponsibility of the Bush administration.
Bartlett then goes all epistemic closure on us.
The dead give-away was the title of his article, “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community.” When people criticizing Republicans need to start their argument by announcing that they are “reality-based,” you know an epistemic closure argument cannot be far behind:
At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure. They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris. Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.
I am disinclined to think that Republicans are yet ready for a serious questioning of their philosophy or strategy. They comfort themselves with the fact that they held the House (due to gerrymandering) and think that just improving their get-out-the-vote system and throwing a few bones to the Latino community will fix their problem. There appears to be no recognition that their defects are far, far deeper and will require serious introspection and rethinking of how Republicans can win going forward. The alternative is permanent loss of the White House and probably the Senate as well, which means they can only temporarily block Democratic initiatives and never advance their own.
Sure redistricting helped — that’s a result of huge gains in 2010 in the states. Those gains continued in 2012. That should tell you something right there. But there also were places where Democrats massacred Republicans through redistricting, like in California. To dismiss that Republicans held the House by a substantial margin as the result of mere gerrymandering suggests to me a bit of closure.
The issues Bartlett discusses, such as outreach to blacks and latinos, are being hotly debated in right-wing circles.
There is no epistemic closure, except to those who aren’t listening to the debate.