Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Future Hinges on Voters of Suspect Intellect




Less than two weeks until the fate of the country is decided. Not specifically on the ballot are the futures of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Obamacare, civil rights, voting rights, gender rights, labor rights, nuclear arms control, environmental laws and a host of other issues that will directly affect the lives of most Americans, even if they don’t realize it (for example, those who complain about socialism overtaking our daily existence do not comprehend that Social Security and Medicaid are forms of socialism, as are public schools and public police forces and fire departments).

Let’s be honest. You’re probably as sick and tired of election coverage as I am. That goes doubly for having to see and listen to Donald Trump at rally after rally as he foments crowds into raw meat delirium. How hypocritical of him to blame the media for inciting incendiary behavior.

Now let’s be really honest. You’re probably melancholy, perhaps more than a bit disappointed, maybe even angry that Barack Obama didn’t fire up his faithful in 2010 and 2014 to defend his progressive platform, as the provocateur-in-chief is doing almost every day with his rabble of a following. Had he done so maybe we wouldn’t have so many Republicans currently in office on the national and state levels.  

For now, I am beyond soaking up all the minutia of 435 House races, 35 Senate square offs and countless state house and gubernatorial contests. I just want it to be over, like I wanted the Mega Millions lottery to finally find a winner (I am really disappointed my five tickets contained no more than one of the picked numbers; I didn’t fare any better with Wednesday’s Powerball drawing). I’m even too exhausted to watch Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers skewer Trump, or listen to Brian Lehrer on WNYC public radio impart more reasoned analysis of our disastrous political state. 

That could be the Trumpster’s plan all along. To rope-a-dope us all into submission. 

I wonder how many people under 45 would get that rope-a-dope reference. Muhammed Ali used that strategy on October 30, 1974, in the Rumble in the Jungle fight to tire out George Foreman. Ali allowed Foreman, the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, to barrage him with punches through seven rounds while he nestled on the ring’s ropes, a tactic that allowed Ali to dissipate much of the impact of each punch. His energy spent from swinging lefts and rights to little effect, Foreman succumbed to Ali’s assault before the bell rang to end round eight. 

Why did I pick 45 as the age factor? Because a recent national survey found that just 19% of those 45 and younger could pass a citizenship test if it were required of Americans born in the United States. 

“With voters heading to the polls next month, an informed and engaged citizenry is essential,” Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, which conducted the study, said in a statement. 

“Unfortunately, this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America’s history and incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test. It would be an error to view these findings as merely an embarrassment. Knowledge of the history of our country is fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today.”

Citizens 65 and older fared much better, scoring passing grades 74% of the time, the highest mark for any age cohort. (An actual citizenship test is just 10 questions, six of which must be answered correctly. Take a longer—96 question—test by clicking on the “select all questions” button in the link: http://www.citizenshipstudyguide.com/member/citizenship-test-questions-quiz.php.)

According to the foundation’s press release, “The survey also found that:
  • 72% of respondents either incorrectly identified or were unsure of which states were part of the 13 original states;
  • Only 24% could correctly identify one thing Benjamin Franklin was famous for, with 37% believing he invented the lightbulb;
  • Only 24% knew the correct answer as to why the colonists fought the British;
  • 12% incorrectly thought WWII General Dwight Eisenhower led troops in the Civil War; 6% thought he was a Vietnam War general; and
  • While most knew the cause of the Cold War, 2% said climate change.

Simply put, too many of our electorate are dumb. Without basic knowledge of our history, our founding principles and values, it is no wonder that a lying, uninformed autocratic bigot can manipulate the truth and lead a throng of morons to repudiate what this country has stood for domestically and internationally for more than eight decades. 

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