Rationality, Definitions, and Ideological Interests

So I was having a conversation on Facebook.  As most of my conversations on Facebook go, this one was political, and I had made what I considered to be a salient point: Liz Cheney and her ilk think that the public is easily manipulated, and so they launch attacks that only someone who is easily manipulated would fall prey to.  And yet liberals are consistently labeled by their detractors as people who don’t have respect for the American public’s ability to make its own decisions.

And then I commented that liberals are quite possibly wrong in the opposite direction: we assume a greater rationality in the American public than actually exists.  The very next comment, someone said, “So, Madison, the people are stupid and liberals are smart, is that it?”

This sort of thing gets me really angry, because what this commenter has done is substitute the words “smart” and “stupid” where the words I used were “rational” and “irrational.”  These words have meaning: they are not simply interchangeable.

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