James Bovard provides an interesting — if utterly realistic and therefore depressing — discussion of American voter ignorance for the Future of Freedom Foundation. Citing a number of statistics from the last twenty years, he makes clear the fact that the vast majority of U.S. citizens are far too ill-informed to make the decisions necessary to run the country well — in other words, to vote in a democracy like the one we are apparently developing. For example:
A 1995 Washington Post–Harvard University study revealed, “Four in 10 Americans don’t know that the Republicans control Congress; and half either think the Democratic Party is more conservative politically than the GOP or don’t feel they know enough to offer a guess.” The survey also found that “only 26 percent knew the 6-year term of office of a U.S. senator” and less than half the public knew that a member of the House of Representatives is elected to a two-year term.
>Almost half of Americans “believe that the President has the power to suspend the Constitution.” Christopher Shea noted in Salon, “On a typical election day, 56% of Americans can’t name a single candidate in their own district, for any office.”
The situation is exacerbated by a combination of unfortunate factors: government schools are inherently biased against teaching the problems with government; the American public is growing ever more disinterested in basic self-education activities such as reading; and our political rhetoric becomes increasingly anti-intellectual with every successive president, regardless of ideology or party affiliation.
Thanks to The American Conservative for drawing my attention to the article.
Read the rest (no really, do read the rest) here.Published in