A few months ago, as I was giving a friend a ride home, Obama’s voice came on the radio as NPR aired a clip from one of his speeches. “I hate politics!” my friend yelled as he immediately turned the station.
Most people view politics with some degree of cynicism if not outright disdain. This consensus of disapproval is not unjustified: politicians lie, and the public knows it. Yet we cannot ignore politics just because the thought of a few corrupt rich people controlling every aspect of our lives scares us.
When our Founding Fathers envisioned the future of America, they envisioned a well-informed citizenry capable of at least a rudimentary understanding of the issues that dictate our political agenda. Unfortunately, they never foresaw a nation full of lobotomites who faint at the thought of reading anything substantial yet cannot bear to miss an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” It is these people, not the yeoman farmers Jefferson imagined, who now hold the reins to America.
When you think about it, a democracy is a pretty dangerous form of government. Have you ever thought that, just because you passed high school civics, your vote actually holds more weight than anyone else’s? If so, you’re sadly mistaken.
Over two out of five Americans, 93 million total, neglected perhaps the most important privilege they have as citizens of our country. If those 93 million people voted in 2016, we would have enough people for a legitimate third party.
Sadly, that will not happen. Too many people just don’t care. On some level, it makes sense — Washington seems so detached from our daily lives that it is hard to see what practical effect it has on us.
Yet, if you’ve ever paid any sort of taxes, attended a public school, driven on public roads, or just about anything else, politics has somehow impacted you, for better or for worse. Though not everyone finds the topic interesting, it does not change the importance of the issues at stake.
Our own political apathy ultimately creates a culture in which elected leaders can deceive us with minimal consequences. Even the most politically disengaged people hear sound clips from time to time. For instance, it’s probably safe to assume that most Americans heard Romney’s comments regarding the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay taxes.
Those who followed the news closely (or read my column a couple weeks ago) learned that Romney’s assertion was false; however, for all the people who recognized this gaffe for what it was, there were undoubtedly some who accepted it as truth.
There exists only one greater threat to democracy than stupid people who don’t vote, and that is stupid people who do vote. In the words of Winston Churchill, “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” But don’t take my or Winston Churchill’s word for it — political stupidity can only be fully appreciated straight from the horse’s mouth.
At the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate, news anchor Chris Matthews asked people whom they would vote for and why. As he interviewed an Obama supporter, a woman cried, “He’s a communist!” When Matthews asked her what exactly a communist was and how Obama fit the bill, she froze up and kept telling him to “do his homework” and “study it out” in what seemed like the most pathetic, half-assed trolling attempt in history.
People like this exist on both sides of the spectrum (Google “Obama phone lady”), but the point is that people either don’t know or don’t care about politics. Everyone has the capacity to grasp a basic understanding of the issues. Many people just choose not to. Without an informed population, we can’t expect to have informed officials. Without informed officials, we can’t expect good policy, and without good policy, we can’t expect a strong America.
If you’d like to “do your homework,” ask ZACH MOORE for somewhat biased help at email@example.com.