Ever wonder why some people are helplessly attracted to bumper sticker slogans and idiot politicians. Apparently some psychologists have been giving the question some thought, too, and what they have come up with is “cognitive fluency” — the ability to think about new and complex things. Seems that there is a strong evolutionary predisposition to keep it simple, to do the conventional and the expected. That might work alright when it comes to selecting a breakfast cereal or bar to go to. But when it comes to more complicated issues things like healthcare reform and global climate change — some people are simply not able to bring the intellectual muscle to the task. We see a lot of that in the common political culture.

See St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Kevin Horrigan’s full column http://onlineathens.com/stories/022010/opi_565162967.shtml. And if you disagree, you are probably one of those less evolved thinkers.

Even when the president tried to make things simple, as he did in a speech to Congress on Sept. 9, it took him 47 minutes to do it. He had to talk about things like insurance exchanges and pre-existing conditions, cost-shifting and individual mandates.

This failed the cognitive fluency test. Republicans rushed into the breach with talking points like “death panels” and “socialized medicine.” They kept complaining about the Senate’s “2,700-page bill,” as if you ought to be able to overhaul something as complex as health care with a memo.

When Missouri Republican Sen. Kit Bond dropped by the office recently and complained about the “2,700-page health care bill,” I remembered that he’d helped write the last federal transportation bill. It was 835 pages long, and all it did was fund transportation programs for six years.

All of this may be intellectually dishonest, but it is smart politics. Americans are looking for easy answers.

Nobody in America understands this better than Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor’s speech to the recent Tea Party convention in Nashville was a masterpiece of cognitive fluency, offering simple answers for all sorts of difficult problems:

“We need a strong national defense … cut spending … spending freeze … drill here and drill now … common-sense solutions and values … the government that governs least governs best … freedom is a God-given right … enduring truths passed down from Washington to Lincoln to Reagan. …”

It was truly a brilliant speech, utterly free of nuance and complexity. If America is tired, angry, confused and looking for easy answers, she may be just the expedient to which they resort.

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