This week we will take a look at why of “ship of state” ended up in shoal waters to begin with. Our political process is in danger because most ‘crew members’…voters…are asleep at the helm…and we are at ‘full speed ahead’ when we should be at ‘all stop’ until we figure out what’s going on…become knowledgeable of issues void of emotion.
Voters can name some current issues but possess little depth of understanding about those matters.
* A recent study by the Pew Research Center demonstrated that only one-third of adults might be deemed “high knowledge” voters. Another one-third possessed moderate knowledge and the final one-third being largely clueless about public affairs.
* Large numbers of people could not correctly answer a wide range of simple questions; one-third could not name either the vice president or the governor of their state; two-thirds could not name the president of Russia; roughly two-thirds did not know the basic elements of pending changes to the minimum-wage law; three-quarters were ignorant of Senate action regarding a major military course of action. [Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, April 15, 2007, http://www.people-press.org/2007/04/15/public=knowledge-of-current-affairs-little-changed-by-news-and-information-revolutions].
Other surveys discovered that while most Americans had strong opinions about major government programs, such as the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), people had little understanding of the substance of those laws or the process by which those laws operate.
Even though a majority of voters consistently cited the economy as the most important issue facing the country, a declining proportion of the electorate can provide any insight into such integral components of the economic morass, such as the national trade deficit, the national debt, or where federal government’s enormous spending goes. [ [Politico, March 13, 2012, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73947].
The public is generally outraged at the poor performance of Congress yet continually reelects more than 80% of incumbents. Studies on why this happens has found that most voters do not retain information about their representatives’ past actions, do not pursue information about those officials’ performance, and are likely to vote on the basis of superficial characteristics…appearance, likability, name familiarity…and fall prey to campaign rhetoric and marketing without grasping the truth of such claims or substantive differences between candidates. [Martin Wisckol, Study: Voters’ Ill-Informed Decision Making”, Orange County Register, December 26, 2012; also Martin Wisckol, “Facts’ Colored by Partisanship”, Orange County Register, June 19, 2013].
Political scientists have exhaustively shown that the problem is not that voters cannot get enough information to make informed choices, but rather voters are too distracted by other matters and too disinterested in the workings of their government to invest themselves in becoming sufficiently informed. [Kevin Charles Redmon, “American Voters: Plenty of Opinions but Without a Clue”, Pacific Standard, November 5, 2012].
Today, just as in the 1950’s, most Americans are unaware of the existence of most issues, perforce oblivious of parties’ stan! ds on those issues, ignorant of most of the basic rules by which government operates, and unfamiliar with all but the most important hand full of events in the nation’s history. [Jonathan Bender and John Bullock, “Lethal Incompetence: Voters, Officials, and Systems”, Critical Review 20, pages 1-24]. Shame on us! Of all the committees churches have, might it not be wise to have a committee to help educate the congregation on current and past events, and current legislation? This education would be based on facts, not emotion.
Next week we will take a look at our founders stances on the importance of informed electorate. Is it any wonder that our “ship of state” is in danger?
– Bob Munsey
Added comment: Last week our country experienced the worst mass shooting in its history…and that happened right here in Orlando. It was a terrible event and because it had such a devastating impact on American citizens and their families we should rightfully be angry. However, an additional tragedy was involved with that event and none of the memorial services or church messages seem to want to address in that tragedy. How many humans, God’s creations, had their lives taken from them before they were able to repent of their sin of abomination and request forgiveness? They went off into eternity ill prepared to meet their Maker. While we are to love the sinner, this past week we saw massive acceptance and celebration of sin. Is it true love to ! watch another human leave this world with ‘hell’ as the reward? I call such observation to be the ultimate display of ‘hate’. Tolerating sin is not ‘love’. We should not tolerate it in our lives and be loving enough to not tolerate in the lives of other humans.