David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Feb. 01, 2019 2 min read

Something I've discovered as I've gotten older that I didn't understand when I was young:

Being an asshole is easy. Being cruel, tearing things down, sabotaging things -- easy. You don't need to be smart.

But being good? Building things, lifting people up? It's HARD.

I think about this as I watch the morons on Fox misunderstanding how sunlight works. That movement doesn't select for brains or accuracy because *they are not adaptive in that environment*. What brings success & social reinforcement in that movement is being a bigger asshole.

I think about it too, when normals ask me how Trump & his band of morons managed to win & do so much damage. They don't need to be smart! They don't need any savvy insight or strategy. The sad truth is, even the dumbest assholes can do a lot of damage.

Whereas, stitching things together, building up institutions that work, finding policy mechanisms that improve lives without unanticipated side effects, figuring out how to keep diverse interests on the same page -- that stuff is difficult, emotionally & intellectually.

You often hear calls for a "left tea party" or a "fighting left" to match the right's destructive ferocity. And, yes, fighting spirit is good! But it's worth remembering that the left can't just use the same tools the same way, because its aspirations are fundamentally different.

The cosmopolitan project - bringing wider, more diverse circles of people under a framework of shared values & rules in which they can mutually benefit - *requires* accuracy & intelligence. It's a project riddled with tricky questions & agonizing trade-offs.

This isn't to say all lefties are smart or all righties are dumb. The left has failed over & over again in America, so clearly it could be smarter! And DC is full of very smart people who have put their intelligence in service of a movement of nihilistic assholes.

it's just to say that, when you marvel at the dumbassery on Fox & think "I can't believe we're losing to these morons," remember that "winning" means very different things for them. You can ruin a party by pooping in the punchbowl. It's easy & requires no brains.

Figuring out how to balance interests & improve the most lives in the most enduring way isn't anything like pooping in a punchbowl. It requires smarts, organizing, political savvy, & the emotional wherewithal to live with almost-continuous disappointment.

The left's job is difficult & can't be accomplished with the right's tools. Progressivism means striving (& frequently failing) for something higher. On the bright side, no cult-like worship of hateful dolts! And with that, I bring this random Friday ramble to a close. </fin>


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