“Why does everything you know, and everything you’ve learned, confirm you in what you believed before? Whereas in my case, what I grew up with, and what I thought I believed, is chipped away a little and a little, a fragment then a piece and then a piece more. With every month that passes, the corners are knocked off the certainties of this world: and the next world too. Show me where it says, in the Bible, ‘Purgatory.’ Show me where it says ‘relics, monks, nuns.’ Show me where it says ‘Pope.’” –Thomas Cromwell imagines asking Thomas More—Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Friday, November 19, 2010
We the Ignorant: The Caveman Conservatives Strike Back
Under President Obama, middle-class taxes have been cut, the economy has been growing for the past five consecutive quarters, the number of illegal immigrants has dropped by almost a million (though we need to keep in mind immigration helps, yes, helps local economies), and most of the money from the TARP loans has been paid back, with the rest on schedule to be returned, with interest, to the US Treasury. The Democrats have also, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, passed a healthcare reform bill that will lower the deficit.
But a Bloomberg poll conducted in the run-up to the recent midterm elections found that nearly two-thirds of likely voters believed the exact opposite about middle-class taxes and the current direction of the economy, and the same number had no idea that TARP loans were now being or would ever be paid back. The American people on average may be saying no to big government. Unfortunately, the American people on average aren’t well enough informed—or they’re Fox-informed—to realize they’re saying no to a straw man built by conservatives.
And of course everyone who pays attention to the news knows about the manufactrovercy called Climategate, but everyone is blissfully ignorant of the entire industry that has sprung up to deny the science of climate change.
The network news shows are too afraid of being called partisan—and other outlets simply are too partisan—to report on the single biggest scandal in American politics: that most Americans are too ignorant or too misinformed to contribute anything of substance to any debate on policy. Our education system is a failure. Our media is a failure. Our entertainment industry is a catastrophic distraction. The American people want to hear dumbed-down stories with good guys and bad guys, believe in Braveheart, believe they are Braveheart, and not have to do anything on Sundays so they can watch football.
Our leaders are supposed to represent us, but since there are too few of them to represent all of us, don’t we want them to represent the most knowledgeable and best informed of us? But instead of acknowledging our ignorance is a problem, a threat to our democracy, our leaders pander to our stupidity. Fearful of being labeled elitist, they avoid at all cost making the obvious rebuttal to Americans-want statements: I’m sorry but the American people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.