The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Just how ignorant the American electorate are...

On occasion, I find myself in need of some nugget illustrative of the lack of knowledge of American voters [1].

Happily I find a paragraph stuffed with examples in a 2003 paper (PDF) by Louise F. Montgomery of Arkansas University, Bush, the Media & the New American Way - to which refer for - references:
American's lack of knowledge extends across topics and even includes illusions about what they do know. People who couldn't define "molecule" or display knowledge of other basic science facts told pollsters that they understood science (National Science Board, 2003). Seniors at Ivy League colleges can't distinguish between statements by Karl Marx and the Founding Fathers of the United States ("Students Flunk U.S. History Test"). Nearly 60 percent of City University of New York – and many other schools had similar figures -- students would be denied citizens hip because they could not correctly answer at least 7 of 10 basic American history questions as required of immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship (Center for Excellence, 2000). More Americans correctly located the Marquesas Islands as the site of a Survivor series than could find New Jersey, and young people old enough to be sent to war in Iraq can't fid it on a map (Global Goofs, 2002).. The Columbia Law survey results demonstrated that "little more than half of college seniors know general information about American democracy and the Constitution," and most "do not know specifics about major wars the United States participated in" (Passantio, 2002). Nearly one-third of Americans (29 percent) think the Constitution guarantees a job (National Council on Economic Education).. Forty-two percent think it guarantees health care. The pile- up could continue ad infinitum, but the pint is made: On almost any topic, Americans of all ages know little although they think they are knowledgeable. On many tests, American score at the bottom of third-world countries; for example, on the annual National Geographic exam (Global Goofs, 2002), Americans scored higher than only one nation, Mexico.

And these are the people in whose hands America's destiny will be placed on November 2!

Makes one wonder whether a few years of benevolent despotism - validated by plebiscite - might not do the Republic a power of good. Pass the Schwarzenegger Amendment, and I think you'll find Tony Blair - the very model, in embryo, of a modern caudillo - will have an availability in the next year or two...

  1. American? Because I find almost all of the politics I write about is American - I have no reason to believe electorates in, say, other G7 countries are more knowledgeable. And ignorant does not imply dumb.

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