A few random thoughts…
Nothing says Conservatives aren’t intelligent. Comrade Tillerson (his ties as Exxon’s CEO with Putin’s oil company were rewarded with the Order of Friendship decoration from the Russian government) is a perfect example. But you have to remember, he is an engineer, not a real scientist, as Sheldon would say on the Big Bag Theory. But seriously, engineers have a much more practical set of views than research scientists — they apply existing principles of physics and mathematics to solve real world problems and then design commercial solutions.
Tillerson’s complete lack of a moral compass is perfectly understandable, considering Exxon has studied and recognized global warming for over forty years, in spite of denying its existence.
Exxon Knew about Climate Change Almost 40 Years Ago
Exxon was aware of climate change, as early as 1977, 11 years before it became a public issue, according to a recent…
Almost anyone working in the energy industry is a true believer in laissez faire capitalism, because that’s what pays the bills. As a matter of fact, solving new problems created by previous bad technological choices is the life blood of a good portion of the engineering industry. (There would be almost no IT industry if Windows or Linux ran as smoothly and efficiently as the Mac OS. Cue the computer zealot flame war.) The same thing applies to the business schools at Harvard and Yale. Anyone whose primary focus is making a lot of money is going to profit from a political platform of lower taxes and less regulation. Here’s an interesting take on Harvard students, who are mostly liberal, but nothing like the protestors from the 60s. Meanwhile, the conservative students are mentally curious and socially liberal — they don’t have a problem with same sex marriage or smoking weed — which is the completel opposite of older members of the party.
With regard to New England, your mother’s family’s Republican party is nothing like the current Republican party. Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower would be called communists and run out of town on a rail. Is there even one moderate Republican left in Congress? Moderate to conservative Republicans like Lincoln Chafey, Arlen Specter, Jim Jeffords and Charlie Christ all became Democrats. Olivia Snowe retired because the Senate had become such a partisan body.
Finally, I’m sure you’re aware of the concept of cognitive dissonance. Seemingly smart people wrap their self worth in their political identity and are unable to admit they are wrong, even when it was about a disastrous candidate like George W. Bush. I have an old friend who was a big supporter of Bush. When the economy collapsed, the Iraq War turned into the disaster any history major could have predicted, and there were scandals and incompetence on every front, his standard response was “all politicians are corrupt.” He could never admit that he was wrong in his support for W. And being a good modern Republican, he values being in power more than he worries about the coming Trumpocalypse.