Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is John Kerry right that Republicans benefit from an ignorant electorate? Yes. And Democrats, and American democracy, suffer.

Speaking in Boston on Friday, Sen. John Kerry blamed Democratic fortunes, which currently appear to be extremely low, on public ignorance:

We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening.

Conservatives jumped all over this, and predictably so, attacking Kerry for being just the sort of coastal elitist Beck and Palin and their self-styled populist ilk like to vilify as anti-American, but, of course, Kerry was right. Much of the American electorate is dominated by apathy and ignorance, if not outright stupidity. Such apathy, such ignorance, and such stupidity are what allow so many voters to vote against their own self-interest, to be manipulated by right-wing propaganda, and to believe things that just aren't true.

-- Obama is a fascist/socialist/Muslim who wasn't even born in the U.S.? Check.

-- The Democrats health-care reform package that was pretty much the same as what Republicans proposed back in the '90s is a totalitarian attempt to subvert freedom? Check.

-- Government is evil and can do nothing to help the economy, but America is in the middle of a civilizational war and so there must be a Big Brother-like national security state that tortures, wiretaps, and kills? Check.

And so on... and so on...

Just why do you think it is that Republicans have been so successful? Because they have the right policies for America and because Americans are more Republican than Democratic? Please. Republicans thrive because low-information voters constitute a huge chunk of the electorate and because they can easily manipulate those voters, often through feeding their fears and prejudices. Why do you think Republicans work so hard to keep as much information out of the electorate as possible?

Take health-care reform. The elements of Obamacare are actually extremely popular -- more choice for consumers (i.e., patients), power taken away from the insurance industry (e.g., with respect to barring those with pre-existing conditions from acquiring adequate coverage), the extension of coverage to millions. On the merits, the Democrats should win this issue, and this is why the Republicans don't want to debate the merits and for voters to judge the two parties on the merits. Rather, Republicans prefer to keep voters uninformed and to seek to control the issue, and benefit from it at the polls, by trying to dominate the narratives through which the issue is presented to voters. With the media playing along, simply regurgitating their talking points, they spin their dishonest smears, lying to the public about Obamacare and scaring the many uninformed into opposing it. Democrats don't do nearly enough to counter this Republican strategy, but the unfortunate reality is that in today's America it is much easier to keep people uninformed than to educate them towards the truth.

An electorate of the educated would, I suspect, produce large majorities for the Democrats. But this isn't the utopia that was dreamed of during the Enlightenment. The educational system isn't great and, even if it were, a free and democratic society just tends to produce an electorate full of people who don't pay much attention to politics. In a way, that's a measure of success. People have other things to do, and it's not always a good thing when politics is front and center. But it also means that "simple slogans" can prevail and that those parties that know how best to manipulate the uninformed and uneducated into voting their way can do very well, forming governments that depend for their survival on keeping people largely uninformed and uneducated.

Jefferson and America's other philosophic founders, Enlightenment thinkers who understood that democracies need educated electorates if they are not to succumb to demagoguery, would not be amused, but this is, alas, what America has become. John Kerry just had the courage to tell it like it is.

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  • A co-opted press combined with a radical leftist leadership can only lead to disaster!Mr. Kerry is correct in one sense. The electorate doesn't pay attention until it's to late! Once they do, the establishment starts talking down to them as Mr. Kerry and others always do.

    We are the caretakers of this government, not the morons in office. Educate yourselves on the issues and the folks running for and already in office. Don't act on their lies and promises. Make your decisions based on their words and actions. Ask the important questions! Love your country! Remember the ideals and principles this country was founded on. Remember those who have paid the ultimate to give this to us.

    I've said before the truth will win out if presented to the people and if the people are in fact paying attention! Of course, that would also mean all the people out there with their hands out would have to become responsible citizens, something any Marxist government frowns on.

    I beseech everyone out there. Please, step back and re-educate yourselves as to our country's founding ideals! Somehow we have managed to allow these bastards to brainwash the last few generations! It has to stop! Our very existence as a free country depends on it!

    I mentioned the main thrust of our efforts have to be aimed at our elected officials, and I still believe that. However, it must be everyone's job to educate themselves as to not only what is going on as to this radical march to the hard left, but also we maybe have to reach back and re-educate ourselves on this country's basic ideals and principles! What is going on now is a complete betrayal of everything our founding fathers stood for. If we let it continue, shame on us all!

    By Blogger joetote, at 4:01 PM  

  • For all of your exclamation points (!), joe, you don't offer one viable solution to the problems you see out there. You've got nothing but platitudes. That and a buck will get you a cup of coffee at the Gateway Cafe.

    As for Obama leading a "radical march to the hard left," heh, if only. So far he's basically about as left-wing as Betty Ford.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 11:31 AM  

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