The woefully ignorant citizen, take #387

During every election season we can count on a round of hand-wringing over the deplorable state of civic knowledge among American citizens. Here’s an example. The writer makes a good case that when it comes to both current political events and the system of government we live under, more than half of Americans range from ignorant to completely clueless.

The writer concludes with the usual lament:

What we are left with, then, is a citizenry woefully ignorant of its civic institutions, morbidly unaware of the surrounding world, and irrationally misguided in the voting booth. How is democracy to succeed?

Is this the right way to frame the question? The majority of Americans appear to be competent to deal with life as it actually confronts them. And if I were to rank knowledge according to its potential for improving the average American’s life, I would rank political knowledge far below, say, financial knowledge or nutritional knowledge. It may be that the average American pays just about as much attention to civics as is useful to him, namely not at all.

Why does no one ever think to blame the system? If our representative democracy as it actually exists is unable to drum up the knowledgeable citizens our theories tell us are needed for its success, then perhaps that tells us it isn’t a proper system for governing three hundred million independent-minded people, and perhaps we ought to go in search of an alternative that has some hope of working in practice.

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2 thoughts on “The woefully ignorant citizen, take #387

  1. Rick,

    You may notice, first of all, that most of these hand-wringers seem to be politically-correct liberals. Only real conservatives seem to have a healthy respect for the common sense of ordinary americans. However, the hand-wringers here have a point, but are doing something they claim we ought to never do: they’re ‘blaming the victim’. The dominant media coupled with our deplorable public school system has been ‘dumbing us down’ for generations. My grandfather and grandmother both had 8th grade educations, and were much more literate, knowledgable and competent then today’s 12th graders, and many of today’s college grads as well.

    Be that as it may, the problem can be remedied by simply limiting suffrage the way the founders of our republic did originally. Only those who are 21, heads of households and owners of real estate or businesses should be allowed to vote. The founders maintained, and I agree, that voters ought to be self-supporting, responsible, literate members of society, who also have an ownership interest in their communities. Why? Because these are the folks who have the most to lose if government runs amok.

    You won’t see that happening any time soon. Such common sense requirements would disqualify a lot of people who are used to voting badly, and consider it their ‘right’. But the founders understood that voting is a privelege, just like occupying public office, and therefore not everyone qualifies.

  2. Ignorance of the citizenry is why the founders structured the government as a republic and not a democracy. A democracy is an early stage of socialism and communism. Representative government ensures that informed elected citizens in the legislature vote on the important issues that shape this country. The founders originally designed it so that all U.S. Senators (the equal representation for each state regardless of population) were selected by each state’s legislature (again, informed elected citizenry). This was criminally changed by the 17th amendment.

    Regardless, most of our elected officials give their vote to the highest bidder. I feel that it should be an act of treason in each state for representatives and senators to receive campaign contributions from sources outside the state they are being elected to represent. Its a federal crime if they receive contributions from foreign nationals. It should be a crime for the states as well.

    Our government is just a huge mess bent on avarice and manipulation. It will continue to be until Christ comes to take His place and King of kings and Lord of lords.

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