'All people are born alike – except Republicans and Democrats.'   — Groucho Marx. In the 50-plus years I've been writing about politics, I've never found a completely satisfying answer to the question posed in the headline above. I've even read scholarly academic articles, including one from the National Institutes of Health bearing the unwelcoming […]

 

'All people are born alike – except Republicans and Democrats.'   — Groucho Marx.

In the 50-plus years I've been writing about politics, I've never found a completely satisfying answer to the question posed in the headline above.

I've even read scholarly academic articles, including one from the National Institutes of Health bearing the unwelcoming title:   “The Automatic Conservative: Ideology-Based Attentional Asymmetries in the Processing of Valenced Information.”

But all   I got from that piece was useless stuff like this:  “[I]ndividuals embracing conservative political views might be more sensitive to signals of threat, and display avoidance regulatory strategies, that is an orientation focused on the prevention of negative outcomes at both a personal and group level.”

Yeah, sure.

In the final analysis, I think the only valid answer to the question in the headline boils down to one word: Fear.

Follow me on this:

Conservative Republicans tend to think of themselves as more religious than liberal  Democrats. These right-wingers live in great fear that the apostasy they perceive among liberals poses an existential   threat to everything they believe. If human   evolution is true, then biblical creationism is false. And if creationism is false, almost everything is open to question. In the end, science is a  potential  enemy of religion.

That's perhaps an overly simplistic explanation, but it serves my purposes here.

The fundamental problem with climate change, in the mind of your typical conservative, is that it's based entirely on science, which makes it suspicious from the get-go.   A serious threat to the continued existence of this planet and the people on it cannot be explained to the satisfaction of some religious folks solely in terms of greenhouse gases. The one true God would not allow the fate of the  entire world   to pivot on matters of air pollution.

Which bring us back to the issue of fear. The fear among right-wing Republicans is that the issues and questions raised by science will militate against religious zeal. The fear among liberals like me is that the issues and questions raised by science will be ignored by right-wing Republicans until it's too late to guard against horrible consequences.