The Generation Gap

 

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”
— Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Some sociologists have disproved the widely held notion that people become more conservative as they get older, and while that may be the case, and therefore old does not necessarily equal conservative, statistics verify there is still a generation gap between the percentages of older and younger people who vote. Old people turn out to vote in a higher percentage for their age group than young people do in their age group. Old for our purpose here is over 50, which encompasses Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation, and the Greatest Generation. Young is under 50, which includes Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.

 

The two largest demographic groups of voting age are Baby Boomers and Millennials. In this year, Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers in numbers as Baby Boomers continue dying out. For all that, the voice of Baby Boomers at voting time remains louder than that of Millennials, because the percentage of Baby Boomers who vote remains higher than the percentage of Millennials who vote. Baby Boomers remain in control of the leadership and apparatus of both major political parties, and that led to the debacle of the 2016 presidential election.

March for Our Lives Fox News
The March for Our Lives protest took place on 24 March 2018 in Washington, D.C., and other cities, when hundreds of thousands of students and others marched to demand common sense gun control in the wake of deadly school shootings in the United States. Photo by Mobilus In Mobili.

In the Democratic Party, leadership foisted Hillary Clinton on everyone, and she turned out to be a candidate with little appeal to voters outside of the Coasts and the big cities, a fact that polling consistently pointed out heading into the election, but which the Democratic leadership chose to ignore. For the Republican Party, the crowded field of candidates in the early primaries allowed the demagogue who eventually overtook the field to win with vote percentages only in the teens and twenties, and with that he was able to pick off his rivals one by one, aided by high amounts of free media coverage for his outrageous comments and behavior.

In the end, we got the president we deserved, we meaning all of us, voters and non-voters alike. A dismal statement, but one we need to come to terms with by election day in November 2020. It seems we have all overestimated the liberal leanings of Baby Boomers as a group, and perhaps popular culture is responsible. News coverage of Vietnam War protests in the 1960s and ’70s, the enormous changes in fashion and entertainment, the weekly confrontations on television’s All in the Family between Baby Boomer Mike “Meathead” Stivic and his Greatest Generation father-in-law, Archie Bunker, all may have contributed to a perception of Baby Boomers as liberal overall.

Looking at national Democratic Party leadership since Baby Boomers took over with the election of Bill Clinton as president in 1992, it’s difficult to deny they are in most ways more conservative than their predecessors of the Greatest Generation and particularly going back to Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) a generation earlier. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were certainly more liberal than Bill Clinton. FDR’s policies would be considered dangerous socialism today, which is why candidates like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, whose policy proposals are in line with what FDR might have done, are considered too far left by Democratic Party leadership, and therefore unelectable.

Enumerating goals can be difficult, as demonstrated here in a television skit by Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

In the Republican Party, attitudes have shifted so far right since Baby Boomers took over with leaders like Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney that even Richard Nixon, in whose administration Mr. Cheney first took part, might not have a chance to be elected president these days as a Republican. Too liberal! Dwight Eisenhower, in whose administration Mr. Nixon served as Vice President in the 1950s, would be considered by today’s Republican Party leadership, and assuredly by the MAGA (Make America Great Again) crowd, as a RINO (Republican In Name Only), despite the era he presided over being the one they pine for.

There is no evidence to suggest Millennials are overall more liberal than Baby Boomers, but unlike Baby Boomers they do appear willing to act on the most pressing concerns for humanity, starting with climate change. Unless we take action on climate change now, nothing else matters. Next is growing wealth inequity, because that leads to many other problems, among them being affordability of health care for all. Population growth also needs to be addressed, because Earth’s resources are not infinite, much as delusional capitalist economic modelers like to pretend otherwise.



A satirical public service announcement from the Knock the Vote project. Warning: foul language.

 

Down the list but hanging over every creature on Earth is the bugaboo of all generations alive since 1945 – nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are down the list because while they are obviously capable of ending everything quickly, they may be the hardest nut to crack on account of their continued proliferation being due to human nature. Addressing these problems requires becoming informed, and voting as well as activism, and it is up to Millennials to rise to the challenges their forebears have been reluctant to grasp. It’s time for Baby Boomers to let go of power if they cannot or will not contribute to battling the world’s most pressing problems, though we know it’s human nature to cling to power, and usually the grave provides the only means of separation.
— Ed.

 

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Voting Should Be Easy

 

Over 75 percent of the American people have smartphones, and since voter participation in elections hovers around 50 percent of eligible citizens, the idea has come around to increase voting by making it possible for people to use their smartphones for that purpose. This year, West Virginia is trying out smartphone voting on a limited basis. The biggest concern with this practice is ballot security from smartphone to tabulating facility, usually a government office such as in a county courthouse. The medium used for that transmission would, of course, be the internet.

Smartphone Zombie Girls (15773553090)
Pedestrians in the Rahova neighborhood of Bucharest, Romania, on October 27, 2014, days before the first round of the Romanian presidential election on November 2. Photo by J Stimp.

 

Now the internet is many wonderful things, but numbered among them is not airtight security for the general user. Some users haven’t the faintest idea about or concern for the security of their system, whether it be on a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet or a smartphone. It’s clear that the integrity of internet voting by smartphone or any other device would need to be maintained by a third party, since the users themselves are unreliable.

The voting system would have to be capable of freezing out “man-in-the-middle” hacks, which have historically been the greatest vulnerability of internet communications and the most commonly exploited by hackers. Think of it as the postal system, in which Party A mails a letter to Party B by entrusting it to Party C, in this case the United States Postal Service, with the understanding that in between point A and point B no one will intercept and read it, save perhaps a Postal Inspector who can show probable cause.

 

The internet has never been even as secure as the postal system. More often it has been like the party lines that used to exist on some phone systems around the country. Until the security problems can be fixed, smartphone voting is unlikely to see widespread use. The safest system for voters is still paper ballots filed either by mail or in person at a polling place. Voting should be easier, not more difficult, as all the voter suppression laws passed by Republican controlled state legislatures have made it, with the idea that low turnout favors their candidates.

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in the US presidential election in Philadelphia 14200A
Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 8, 2016. Note how some are looking down at their smartphones, a common sight in public places now. Photo by Voice of America News.

Relatively few people are motivated to spend a long time waiting to vote in a queue that may keep them outdoors in bad weather, though some do appear willing to endure similar conditions in order to purchase the latest iPhone. Smartphone voting is a great idea for increasing participation in elections, but sadly it is one that needs work before becoming wholly viable, if it ever does. Until then, voters can still bring along their smartphones to their polling places to keep themselves entertained while they wait.
— Techly

 

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Who’s Foolin’ Who?

 

For more than a decade, Republicans have been working overtime to bring Jim Crow voter suppression schemes back to the polls, this time on a nationwide basis. Their excuse is the supposed need to combat voter fraud, a decidedly small scale offense. Republicans are at their best when ginning up hysteria, however, and the frenzy they have created over voter fraud has resulted in state laws which have the side effect of stifling voter turnout by citizens who historically vote for Democratic Party candidates.

 

The most blatant case in this year’s election is the Georgia gubernatorial race, where Republican Brian Kemp is running against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Mr. Kemp also happens to be the Georgia Secretary of State, a position which puts him in charge of overseeing the state’s elections. He has refused to recuse himself from that position, more or less stating as his reason “Trust me.” Georgia voters can be excused for scoffing at his stance considering how Mr. Kemp has done everything in his power as Georgia Secretary of State to suppress turnout by racial minority voters. Former president Jimmy Carter, a decent man, has spoken out to urge Mr. Kemp to resign from his office as Georgia Secretary of State while he seeks the governorship, but it appears his remarks are too little too late, and at any rate are falling on deaf ears when they come to Mr. Kemp and his acolytes.

Segregated cinema entrance3
African-American patron going in the colored entrance of the Crescent Theatre in Belzoni, Mississippi, on a Saturday afternoon in October 1939. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990).

It’s bad enough that miscreants like Brian Kemp have been allowed by state legislatures to get away with Jim Crow voter suppression, and even encouraged by having those efforts codified in state law, but to then allow that person to oversee his own election is beyond belief. That’s like the referee of a football game saying “Trust me” as he suits up in the uniform of one team and plays for them while he pretends to call penalties for both sides impartially. There should be state laws prohibiting this obvious conflict of interest, but even while there are no laws on the books, simple decency would dictate that Mr. Kemp voluntarily recuse himself.

In Cleveland, Ohio, in March 2016, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spoke about voter suppression.

But no, we have most certainly passed beyond the bounds of simple decency in our society and in our politics. The only thing citizens can do is steel themselves to vote no matter what obstacles indecent people put in their way. They can accept rides to the polls for early voting from partisan activists, and as long as everyone is open about that there’s nothing wrong with it, no matter how Georgia State Patrol troopers may feel about it.



From her 1985 album Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, Aretha Franklin sings “Freeway of Love”.

 

This midterm election and all local and statewide elections are important for the very reason that they put in place the lawmakers who set the agenda for what happens on the national stage. It is not enough as a dutiful citizen to wake from slumber once every four years to turn out for the presidential election and then go back to sleep. That is not what Republican groups like the nefarious Project Veritas have done, who are at work every day with a kind of addled, mentally and spiritually unbalanced zeal to reshape the country in their own image. Based on the conduct of many state legislatures and school boards across the country and the draconian policies they have slipped under the door, they have been succeeding while everyone else slept.
— Vita

 

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A Prediction

 

With this year’s midterm election three weeks away and an enormous amount at stake regarding what sort of country voters want to live in, it’s a safe prediction that turnout will be higher than usual, perhaps at a record level. Midterm elections have historically drawn out only about 40 percent of eligible voters, compared to about 60 percent in presidential election years. There are so many cultural issues at stake in this first national election since 2016 that people are more likely than ever to turn out at the polls despite the relatively good economy, which ordinarily would be a reason for complacency and low turnout.

High voter turnout typically favors Democratic candidates, and that should hold true this year as well, but turnout by Republican voters should be high as well on account of the fires being stoked by their leader in the Oval Office, the Divider-in-Chief. In rally after rally and through draconian policy actions meant to provoke an outraged and, in his view, pearl-clutching response from the opposition, the Republican Party’s national leader inflames his base with culture war issues distorted and amplified through their partisan media outlet, Fox News. Ramming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the relatively wet noodle opposition on the Senate Judiciary Committee served the Divider-in-Chief’s purposes admirably, giving him and his base a win in the culture wars against liberals. Whether Mr. Kavanaugh’s service on the Court will improve the rule of law in this country, or even respect it, is besides the point as far as they are concerned.


Map of US Voter ID Laws by State, Strict vs Non-Strict, Nov 2016
Map of Voter ID laws in the United States, Strict vs Non-Strict (November 2016).

Red ——– Photo ID required (Strict)
Orange —- Photo ID requested (Non-strict)
Dark Blue – Non-photo ID required (Strict)
Light Blue – Non-photo ID requested (Non-strict)
Gray ——- No ID required to vote
This map may not be up to date. Check with your local registrar if you are unsure. Map by Peterljr888.

 

With the Republicans fired up and their unofficial paramilitary offshoots among white supremacist organizations feeling emboldened by Supreme Leader and by the police, it’s also a fair prediction that voter intimidation efforts at the polls by those groups will be higher than ever this year. Supreme Leader has signaled numerous times to the lunatic fringe of the alt-right that he has their backs, and the police have done the same by standing by passively while white supremacist groups have rioted and dealt violence to counter protesters, most prominently in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, and again recently at altercations in Portland, Oregon, and in New York City.

If voters are intimidated at polling places this year by over zealous followers of Supreme Leader, it is perhaps not advisable to rely on reporting the matter to local police employees. It is probably better to follow the guidelines of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE, or the Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline at 800-253-3931. The ACLU also advises contacting an attorney, but as that can add up to a lot of expense, it helps to realize the Election Protection Hotline is run by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and can help with legal questions pro bono. Now that everyone in the country has had two years to observe where the Divider-in-Chief and his cohort want to take the country, to unsavory places where the rule of law is not respected and where only the rich benefit from the nation’s wealth, it has never been more clear how much voting can make a difference in the sort of country we claim to be than in this year’s midterm election. Vote!
— Ed.

 

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The Illusion of Choice

 

Imagine you’re in a boarding house, on a street full of boarding houses. Meals are served three times a day at regular intervals, and you are given some choices in the food you are served. You are told by the staff that your food choices will influence what they serve in the future. This seems like a good deal, because it is your understanding that in some of the other boarding houses along the street the roomers have little or no choice at meals, and in a few of the boarding houses there is not enough of the food they do offer.

The roomers sit down for the first meal served since you have found yourself in the boarding house, and it appears there is sufficient variety of food on the table and plenty of it for everyone. There are serving plates holding the food you requested, though not very much of it. That’s alright because you note no one else at the table is interested in your requested dishes, helping themselves instead with enthusiasm to one or the other of only two courses, each of which is served in such quantity as to take up the majority of the space on the dining table.

At the next meal, you find again that the staff has provided the dishes you requested, but in even smaller quantity. Meanwhile the other roomers appear to have more than enough of the two courses that they dig into with great gusto. After the meal, you consult with one of the staff members, who informs you that they will indeed continue to supply your requested foods, but in diminishing quantities if none of the other boarders demonstrate any appetite for them. Economics, you know!

William Hogarth 031
The Polling, the third of four paintings in 1755 in The Humours of an Election series by William Hogarth (1697-1764).

Eventually you are down to scraping up only a few forkfuls of the food you prefer, hardly enough to maintain yourself without hunger. You look over the other diners with some envy because they seem quite pleased with the choices they’ve made, which appears to come down always to those two main courses you saw them eating on the first occasion. Occasionally there is a little more of one than the other on offer, but invariably there is more than enough to satisfy everyone. Growing hungrier with the meager quantities of food you requested, you reluctantly decide to join the crowd and try eating first one of the popular main courses, and then the other.

Not bad, you think, eating some from the dish that seems to be favored by roomers at one side of the dining table. You reach across the table and help yourself to a plateful of food from the main course favored by diners on the other side of the table. A little better, you think, chewing, but not all that different from the first dish. Both foods are rather bland and uninteresting, and the main difference appears to be in the sauce that dresses up each food. All the same, they are foods that appear to sustain life, however uninteresting they may be, and unresponsive to your actual desires. Strangely, even though there is ultimately little difference between the two main courses, your fellow diners earnestly try to persuade you to pledge your loyalty to one or the other, citing the need to have yet more of the same.

Tiring of the complacency of your fellow roomers, who seem too easily satisfied, and of the disdain the serving staff increasingly displays toward them, you elect to go exploring the rest of the boarding house, making your way to the top floor where it is rumored a wealthy man lives, or at least spends part of his time. You had heard the wealthy man owned the boarding house, and many others besides along that street of boarding houses. Sneaking along the corridor because the staff had previously intimated that none of the regular boarders were welcome on the top floor of the house, you hear conversation and the clinking of dishes behind one of the doors.

From the “Adam’s Ribs” episode of the third season of M*A*S*H in 1974, Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce stages a mess hall rebellion while his friend Trapper John, played by Wayne Rogers, looks on.

You stealthily push open the door barely enough to peek inside, where sits the wealthy man at his own dining table, surrounded by his friends and by more of the staff than you ever knew was available to you and your fellows downstairs. There on the dining table are all the foods you had imagined you could have had, and more. There was none of the bland slop served in such great quantity downstairs. There were many, many choices, and whatever the wealthy man and his friends desired, the obsequious staff brought to them.

Quietly closing the door, you went back downstairs to your place and awaited an opportunity at the next meal among your fellows to mention what you had seen, and when your chance came and you spoke up, everyone stopped eating and glared at you, their discomfort with bald reality and with you for pointing it out to them making itself apparent. From then on, you could eat with them, but every one of them despised you as a troublemaker. No one heard any more of the wealthy man on the top floor, though they noted dumbly over time that the variety of the foods at their own table steadily dwindled until there were only the two bland, cheap courses they had chosen as if there were little else available. They got what they asked for, and they were satisfied with that, and never mind the staff serving it up with scorn.
― Ed.

 

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How Many Russians Does it Take to Screw Up an Election?

Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak […]. Like various words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

― George Orwell, from the Appendix to 1984.

 

The answer to the question headlining this post is “It depends.” If you are a staunch Democrat and keep up with the latest articles from your favored media outlets about the 2016 election, then you might see Russians lurking around every corner, pulling strings to upend Hillary Clinton (mission acomplished!) and boost their boy, now known as our Supreme Leader. If, on the other hand, you are a die-hard Republican faithfully following your favored media outlets, you are apt to think “Russians? What Russians? I don’t see any Russians around here!” You might think that the whole stink about Russians hacking the 2016 election is fake news promulgated by liberal media for consumption by whiny Democratic (or Democrat, dropping the “ic” at the end when the word is used an adjective to make it sound flat and harsh, according to the Newspeak of Newt Gingrich and his kind since the 1980s) losers.

No one really knows how much the Russians may have influenced the election, and may not for a while yet pending sober inquiries from Congress, which seem increasingly unlikely. The majority in this country, who are neither staunch nor die-hard, likely have other things to worry about day by day, and anyway they can see the dispute over the Russians is descending into another ideological fight in a mud pit, and so they would just as soon tune it all out, mostly. Democratic supporters of Clinton will continue to cling to any external source for their candidate’s loss – for it was a loss, not a defeat – rather than face a mirror and admit their party has lost its way, while Republican backers of El Supremo will continue to use the issue as a club – their favorite instrument of debate – to CRUSH (all CAPS, their second favorite instrument!) challenges to his authority and legitimacy. Meanwhile the intelligence agencies, sensing a vacuum and sidling out of their place ever more boldly, have skulked from the shadows in the wings and taken center stage. This is going from bad to worse too quickly. It is doubleplusungood.
― Ed.

 

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The Kolledge of Electoral Knowledge

Ohio Electoral College 2012 5
Meeting of the 2012 Ohio Electoral College; photo by Ibagli

The 538 members of the Electoral College meet tomorrow, December 19th, in the 50 state capitols and in Washington, D.C., to cast their ballots for President and Vice President. Many people across the country are unsure about the purpose of or need for the Electoral College, and they think we could do better without it. In Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College, though they never named it as such.

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . . “

There is further elaboration on the Electoral College in the 12th and 14th Amendments.

Nowhere in the Constitution is there anything about constraining the Electors to vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote. In 26 states and in Washington, D.C., Electors are bound by state laws or party pledges to vote for the winner of the popular vote in their state. The Founding Fathers did not foresee the rise of political parties, and they imagined the Electors would act more independently than has proved to be the case. Political parties now choose the Electors and dictate how they vote, and over half the states have codified that policy into state law. The Electoral College functions now as nothing more than a rubber stamp for the winner take all system in all the states except Nebraska and Maine, which allocate their electoral votes by congressional district.

 

If the Electors exist only to rubber stamp the electoral votes determined by the popular vote in each state, then why bother with human Electors at all? If the purpose of the electoral vote system is to protect the minority rights of less populous states from being overrun by more populous states, then tally the electoral votes allocated by each state’s popular vote and do away with the Electoral College members altogether. If, on the other hand, we expect Electors to act at their own discretion, then do away with the restrictions placed on them by the states and by the political parties, all of which may be unconstitutional, and allow them to vote their consciences.

 

The Founding Fathers had some good reasons for establishing the Electoral College, though they failed to envision how it has played out since the 18th century. As it exists now, it is neither fish nor fowl, neither a body independent of the will of the people nor beholden to it. The Electoral College is beholden to the will of the political parties, and any member who votes independently of that will is termed a “faithless Elector,” and may be subject to legal penalties as well as party ostracism. What good is an institution like that?
– Ed.

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States
Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, a painting by Howard Chandler Christy. The figures in this painting who were instrumental in the establishment of the Electoral College were James Wilson, in the green coat directly beneath the flags, who proposed it; and seated to either side of Benjamin Franklin, at the center, were James Madison on the right and Alexander Hamilton on the left, the two men who explained it’s function and lobbied for it’s inclusion in the Constitution.

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Pick Your Poison

Americans’ distaste for the two major party candidates for president has never been greater than it has been this election year. When Americans vote on November 8, most of them will likely cast their ballot in the spirit of voting for the lesser of two evils, while a few others will vote for a third party candidate. When both major party candidates are highly disliked even by members of their own parties, justifying a vote for the lesser of two evils requires more mental and moral gymnastics than ever before. The arguments for and against voting third party, meanwhile, are the same as always.

David - The Death of Socrates
“The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David

Too many of us tend to think of politics as something we need pay attention to once every four years, and then we act surprised at the choices presented to us by the more politically active. Anyone paying attention to politics more often than once every four years should not be surprised at the rightward drift of the Democratic Party over the past generation to the point that a mainstream Democratic candidate now holds positions that thirty years ago we would have attributed to a moderate Republican. The Republican Party has steadily marginalized its moderate members, but until this year its establishment has managed at least for each presidential election to put forward a candidate acceptable to its conservative, but not radical, elite. This year at last the trends of the past generation have culminated in both parties nominating for president the candidates they have long worked toward presenting to the country, and therefore no one should be surprised.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. (A wide-angle view of marchers along the mall, showing the Reflecting Pool and... - NARA - 542045
1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.

In a democracy, so the saying goes, people get the government – or political candidates – they deserve. That seems like an awfully cynical assessment this year. We can’t pick and choose the times we would like to take responsibility for who we put forward for elective office, however, and so perhaps it would serve us better to pay closer attention to politics during the intervals between presidential elections. If we did that, then maybe we could take back this democratic republic from the corporate oligarchy which has steadily, year by year, day by day, stolen it from the people who are expected to trot out to the polls every so often and sign off on one side or the other of the same coin, the one that says on one side “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country,” and on the other “Corporations are people.”
– Ed.

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Don’t Call Me “Stupid”

James Madison by Gilbert Stuart 1804
James Madison, portrait by Gilbert Stuart.

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
― James Madison

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes in his latest book, Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White, that low information voters would do better to stay away from the polls on election day rather than cast their vote based on an inadequate understanding of the issues. This is sensible advice and in an ideal world those low information voters would heed it in order to benefit everyone. No one buys a car, after all, without at least kicking the tires and pretending some knowledge of what’s under the hood. But aside from safety considerations on the public roads, buying a car is largely a personal choice, affecting solely the owner. The effect of a person’s vote, however, amounts to a civic responsibility because it is a decision which affects everyone. This much seems obvious, yet it is amazing how much more effort some people will invest in researching a car or stereo system than in how politicians stand on the issues. In that case, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar makes a valid point.

Are low information voters stupid? Not necessarily. Some feel obligated to vote yet lack the time or desire to get up to speed on the important issues at stake. Others are deluded by questionable sources for their information, such as major media outlets which give a one-sided slant to the news and are often obsessed with sensationalism and trivia. Still others are blinded by party loyalty to information about defects in their preferred candidate. If anything, all of these attributes describe laziness rather than stupidity.

In this age of Standards of Learning testing in the public schools, it appears social studies education generally, and civics education particularly, are getting squeezed in favor of the three Rs, which are more readily documented to show results. Elementary and secondary school education in civics instills in future voters not only knowledge of the structure of government and how it works, but more importantly why that matters to them in their daily lives. That is the vital aspect of civics education which needs to remain with people throughout their lives, and which they are apt to lose sight of in the noise and confusion of earning a living and raising a family.

This is also the Age of Information, when sources of information are more widely available to the common person than they have ever been. Some sources are worthwhile and some are not. Some people view sorting through it all an engaging experience and some view it as drudgery. But it is there for people if they choose to look for it and choose to exercise a capacity for critical thinking which they ideally would have learned from their civics education. Today, for most people in a relatively affluent society, there are fewer excuses than ever for ignorance when easily the equivalent of the ancient Library at Alexandria is available to them in their computers, in their tablets and smartphones, or in the computers and book stacks at an institution usually somewhat less grand than the Alexandria Library – their local public library.

― Ed.


Ancientlibraryalex

The Great Library of Alexandria, drawing by O. Von Corven.

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