It has barely been a month after the election and the GOP has spring into action in response to their defeat at the hands of President Obama. Clearly their loss was not a result of their policies that tend to target the poor, middle class, women, and minorities; it was because the Democrats had a better ground game.
So, they wheel out Marco Rubio. Obvious choice. Given his Latino heritage, I saw this one coming a mile away as soon as I heard Obama won and the Republicans scratching their heads asking one another “wha happen??” He recently did an interview with GQ. The link to the entire thing is here, but I have extracted the essence of exactly why he – and people like him – don’t deserve to be in positions of authority:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
I first want to emphasize that there’s no shame whatsoever in saying you don’t know something or that it may be out of your area of expertise … but to put the answer given to us by the scientific community on the same level as the first book in the bible purely on the basis that it’s consistent with this nation’s de facto religion means this guy is either dangerously scientifically illiterate, or pandering so heavily to the religious right that he’s willing to sacrifice common sense and reason to get their votes.
Whether the second is true, I don’t know for sure, but his answer certainly demonstrates that he has absolutely no idea what a theory is – and how the meaning is different when you speak in a scientific context versus a colloquial one. If he did, he would know that what we do know about how the earth was formed is based upon a wealth of scientific knowledge as a result of an observation of physical evidence, repeatedly verified by independent parties and passing a review of other experts in the field. While there may be a couple of theories about exactly how it happened, there is virtually unanimous agreement that it happened over four and a half billion years ago.
The bottom line is that it’s not one of the great mysteries. This is one of the things we’re actually pretty sure about. And to claim that such scientific illiteracy doesn’t have a negative effect on his ability to create jobs or help the economy doesn’t acknowledge that such ignorance makes it that much easier for special interest groups to flat out lie to him about the economy, climate change, human psychology, etc. … and he’ll never know the difference because he can’t be bothered to find out.
GQ: You talk a lot to young Republicans. Recently I met a Republican who said, my kids are in high school and there’s a prom. There’s straight kids, gay kids. It’s no big deal to them. And he says, my party, the Republican party, has to stop putting these social issues out there and talking more about stuff that effects people.
Marco Rubio: I think that’s unfair. A significant percentage of Americans feel very strongly about this issue. What I’m hearing is that it’s ok for one side to express their view and the other side needs to be quiet. There are a very significant number of Americans that feel very strongly about the issue of life, about the issue of marriage and are we saying that they should be silenced or not allowed to speak or voice their opinion? There’s a way to do that that is respectful and productive. There are things we’ll always disagree on, but it doesn’t mean we go to war over them or divide our country over them. We agree to disagree, but we continue to work together on the things we all know that we have to do.
I don’t think anyone is saying people shouldn’t be allowed to express their opinions, so a lot of this is a strawman on his part. If someone does speak out about protecting some oddly convenient “traditional” view of marriage that happens to conform with exactly what heterosexuals do now, they generally just have to deal with the consequences of being considered an asshole by the rest of us who don’t think “gays are icky, God says so” carries a lot of weight in today’s society.
The problem we run into with a perspective like Rubio’s is that he believes that people should be respectful of other views. In general, I can agree with this … until the views in question involve an almost absolute certainty that other people are living a lifestyle that will condemn them to a place of eternal torment when they die. As a result, they get vocal. Very vocal. Best case, they think they’re doing everyone a favor and saving them from Hell. Worst case, they’re hiding behind the laws of an ancient culture to keep from having to cope with things they don’t like.
In this, we can’t just agree to disagree. Those who oppose safe, legal access to contraceptives or abortion services for women … or state sanctioned same sex marriage where the church is under no obligation to recognize it … or the teaching of evolution in a science classroom while keeping religion in a religion class … they are doing everything they can to keep Christianity (religion, in general) relevant in a society that doesn’t need it anymore. We can argue whether it’s still useful for community, charity, and the like, but if the only reason for demonizing female sexuality, treating homosexuals like second class citizens, and hamstringing our public school system is because “my God says so”, then it’s time we stop giving that point of view – or the people who hold it – the respect it clearly doesn’t deserve.