Frank Bruni’s Op Ed in yesterday’s New York Times reinforces a theme that has become all too common on this blog–a lament, really. He titled it “America the Clueless.”
Did you know (I didn’t) that despite the incredible amount of media devoted to “Obamacare” over the past few years, that forty percent of Americans don’t know it’s a law?
Some think it’s been repealed by Congress. Some think it’s been overturned by the Supreme Court. A few probably think it’s been vaporized and replaced with a galactic edict beamed down from one of Saturn’s moons. With Americans you never know.
Sixty-five percent of us can’t name a single Supreme Court Justice. Twenty-one percent believe that UFO really did crash in Roswell, and that the government has been covering it up ever since. As Bruni says, “That we Americans are out to lunch isn’t news. But every once in a while a fresh factoid like the Obamacare ignorance comes along to remind us that we’re out to breakfast and dinner as well. ”
As Bruni points out, engagement doesn’t necessarily correlate with information–just because someone is heavily involved in the political process is no guarantee that he or she possesses actual knowledge about the process or even the particular campaign or issue with which they are involved.
In 2010 in California, I covered a Tea Party rally at which Carly Fiorina, vying for the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat, was scheduled to speak. I approached a couple whose profusion of hats and buttons and handmade signs — along with their willingness to spend hours in a crowded field under a punishing sun — led me to believe that they were at least somewhat politically engaged. I asked them if they were inclined to support Fiorina. With great seriousness, they said that they hadn’t yet decided between her and Meg Whitman. Whitman was running not for senator but for governor, in a race that hardly wanted for coverage. They didn’t have to choose.
My absolute favorite “factoid” from Bruni’s compendium, however, was this:
Months later a different poll asked voters about President Obama’s religious affiliation, persistently mistaken by some Americans to be Muslim. The good news? The share of voters making the Muslim error had dropped, to 10 percent. The weird news? Eighteen percent said Obama was Jewish.
I guess this answers my repeated question about how people like Louis Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann, Paul Broun et al get elected.
And speaking of religion, I have a favor to ask of those of you who pray. Would you please pray for a more enlightened, more rational America?