… who it was that elected him (I have yet to use the word “president” in the same sentence with his name), a recent poll by the Pew Research Center tells the story in stark terms.
The poll consisted of twelve questions:
1. Can you tell me who is the newest justice to join the Supreme Court?
(a) Eric Holder, (b) Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (c) Sonia Sotomayor, (d) Antonin Scalia
2. Do you happen to know who Glen Beck is?
(a) A television and radio talk show host, (b) A member of the Federal Reserve Board,
(c) The Secretary of Defense, (d) A Hip Hop Artist
3. Do you happen to know which political party has a majority in the U.S. House of
(a) Democrats, (b) Republicans
4. Does the so-called “public option” legislation being discussed in Congress deal with…
(a) Unemployment, (b) Banking reform, (c) Energy and environment, (d) Health care
5. Can you tell me who is the chairman of the Senate finance committee, which is working on a bill to reform the health care system?
John McCain, (b) Max Baucus, (c) Kathleen Sebelius, (d) Dianne Feinstein
6. Do you happen to know who is chairman of the Federal Reserve Board?
(a) Alan Greenspan, (b) Henry Paulson, (c) Paul Volker, (d) Ben Bernanke
7. Do you happen to know if
Israel do or do not share a border?
(a) Yes, they do, (b) No, they don’t
8. Do you happen to know if the national unemployment rate is currently closer to:
(a) 5%, (b) 10%, (c) 15%, (d) 20%
9. Do you happen to know if the Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently closer to:
(a) 3,000, (b) 6,000, (c) 10,000, (d) 16,000
10. Is health care spending per person in the
United States higher, lower, or about the same as in most European nations?
Higher in the
U.S., (b) Lower in the
U.S., (c) About the same
11. Does the so-called “cap and trade” legislation being discussed in Congress deal with…
(a) Banking reform, (b) Energy and environment, (c) Health care, (d) Unemployment
12. About how many
U.S. military personnel are currently in
(a) Around 20,000, (b) Around 70,000, (c) Around 150,000, (d) Around 200,000
According to the Pew analysis, only 2 % of those interviewed answered all 12 questions correctly, while just 5% answered 11 questions correctly.
At the lower end of the spectrum, where we find a major proportion of Obama voters, 6% were wrong on all 12 questions (imagine the odds of that happening), 6% answered one correctly, 9% answered 2 correctly, 12% answered 3 correctly, 12% answered 4 correctly, 11% answered 5 correctly, and 10% answered 6 correctly. All told, 66%, or 2 out of 3 of those polled, answered only half or fewer of the 12 simple questions correctly.
What is so alarming about the results of the Pew Research poll is that most of those polled actually vote. Their poll results are reminiscent of those obtained by the Zogby organization in interviews with randomly selected Obama voters as they left a polling place in November 2008.
Exit pollsters quizzed a dozen or so Obama voters, asking a battery of questions on current affairs. For example, the Zogby people asked which party controlled the Congress. Only one or two voters were aware that Democrats controlled Congress. Obama voters were asked their opinion of Barney Frank, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi. These were names that were unfamiliar to all but one or two of the Obama voters. However, when asked which candidate benefitted from $150,000 worth of clothes purchased by a political party, and which candidate had a pregnant teenage daughter, every one of the Obama voters replied, “Sarah Palin.”
When asked which candidate said that he/she could see
Russia from her home, all of the Obama voters replied, “Sarah Palin”… in spite of the fact that Palin never made that claim. That claim is credited to Saturday Night Live comedienne and Sarah Palin look-alike, Tina Fey. When asked which candidate claimed to have campaigned in “all 57 states,” most Obama voters thought it was Sarah Palin who’d made that claim. They were surprised to learn that it was their hero, Obama, who apparently did not know that the
United States contains only 50 states.
When asked which candidate was first elected to public office by having all three of his/her opponents kicked off the ballot on technicalities, the Obama voters either didn’t know or suggested that it must have been either Sarah Palin or John McCain. They were surprised to learn that it was Barack Obama. And when asked which candidate had plagiarized a speech made by a British political leader, most either did not know or suggested that it must have been John McCain. All were surprised to learn that it was Joe Biden.
When asked which candidate admitted that his/her environmental policies would “bankrupt coal-burning power plants and drive electric power costs through the ceiling,” most suggested that it must have been John McCain. They were surprised to learn that the correct answer was Barack Obama. When asked their opinion of the redistribution of wealth, most paused to think for a moment before replying that it sounded like a good idea.
The least surprising replies came in response to the question: “From what source do you get most of your information on politics and government?” The news sources mentioned were CBS, CNN, National Public Radio, Bill Moyers, MSNBC, and the New York Times. Is it any wonder!
But what are we to make of all this? Is it something that we can simply laugh off? Certainly, if one were to suggest that voters be required to take a comprehensive civics exam before being allowed to vote, we would hear howls of “racism.” Since liberals and Democrats generally assume that those who do poorly on questions similar to those posed by Pew and Zogby are minorities, primarily blacks, any attempt at qualifying voters would be equated to racism.
In the century between 1865 and 1964, southern voters were often subjected to a brief quiz before being allowed to vote. Whites were asked real brain-twisters such as, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb? While anyone with dark skin might be required to describe the first four sections of the 14th Amendment. As a testament to the quality of public education today, liberals and Democrats tend to forget, if they ever knew, that it was Democrats who used that technique
However, the Pew Research poll and the Zogby poll were racially neutral. The number of blacks, whites, and Hispanics polled were representative of the population at large, which says little about racism but a great deal about the intelligence level of the average Democratic voter.
Is it fair that the nation should be governed by people elected by the most politically ignorant among us? No, it is not fair. It would be a simple matter to design a voting machine and a ballot where the voter would be required to feed a completed ten-question multiple choice quiz into the voting machine before inserting his/her ballot. If the voter did not answer at least six of the ten questions correctly, the voting machine would automatically reject his/her ballot.
In 1857, the British social philosopher, T.B. Macaulay, suggested that our U.S. Constitution was “all sail and no anchor.” Declaring that he had “long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty or civilization, or both,” he rejected the notion that the supreme authority in a state “ought to be entrusted to the majority of citizens… to the poorest and most ignorant part of society.”
Now it appears that, with the arrival of Barack Obama and today’s Democratic Party, the day of which Macaulay warned has now arrived. A clear majority of American voters have now discovered that, through their ballots, they have the ability to vote benefits for themselves from the public treasury.
Is it likely, or even possible, that we will ever see the day when we can look upon an educated and informed electorate with pride and confidence? The answer to that question will likely become obvious in the November 2010 elections. It may well be our last chance.