A quote that’s falsely attributed to Winston Churchill goes, “If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.”
The problem with the current conservative movement is that it lacks both a heart and a brain.
The conservative movement has no brain. Many conservatives (like Rick Perry) choose not to believe the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change (1). Others (like Michelle Bachmann) make dangerous and ignorant claims that vaccines are unsafe, despite studies that have proven these claims to be false (2).
The conservative movement has no heart. Republicans in congress opposed health care reform and made no effort to propose an alternate system that would provide health coverage to all Americans. Some Republicans are trying to overturn the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act in the courts. Research has shown that each year 45,000 deaths are associated with lack of health insurance in America (3), but opponents of health care reform want to repeal the act without replacing it. At the Tea Party–sponsored debate in September, audience members cheered a suggestion that an uninsured patient be left to die (4).
Any Republican who veers from the heartless/brainless platform is attacked by fellow conservatives. Rick Perry has been vilified because Texas provides educational opportunities to children of illegal immigrants. Mitt Romney has been criticized for passing health care reform in Massachusetts and for acknowledging the reality of man-man climate change. To appease the conservative GOP base, Romney has since been forced to adopt a more heartless position on health care and a more brainless position on climate change.
Americans need leaders with hearts and brains. The conservative movement seems determined that we get neither.