“Ideological certainty easily degenerates into insistence upon ignorance.”
U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
In his 1996 book, Miles To Go, the late Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan related a story about a 1993 communication with Laura D’Andrea Tyson of the Clinton administration. After receiving and reading two studies he had requested from the White House, he noted that both studies actually concluded that similar programs had failed to produce any positive results. In response, Moynihan wrote the following in a letter to Tyson,
“In the last six months I have been repeatedly impressed by the number of members of the Clinton administration who have assured me with great vigor that something or other is known in an area of social policy which, to the best of my understanding, is not known at all. This seems to me perilous. It is quite possible to live with uncertainty, with the possibility, even the likelihood, that one is wrong. But beware of certainty where none exists. Ideological certainty easily degenerates into an insistence upon ignorance.”
What struck me about this quote is how applicable it is to the current political situation in the United States. Were Moynihan still alive today, I think he would find that his quote could easily apply to the highly partisan ideological certainty that Republicans in our Congress use to justify their blind support for Donald Trump, which, to me, is clearly an insistence upon ignorance.
Written for Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesdayprompt.