John Kerry pointed out a few weeks back something anyone with a minute understanding of media studies should already know: “We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening.” Not surprisingly, far right talking heads seized the moment to tell the electorate that Kerry called them stupid and he’ll be shuffled out of office in the great Republican Revolution quickly approaching in November. Clearly, it’s Democrats that are out of touch with the electorate and Kerry’s quip is another “nail in the coffin.” Once Real America takes back Washington, we’ll all be sailing through calmer waters, I’m sure.
Courtesy Wikipedia (meaning Creative Commons, Rupert)
Looks like we'll have to start all over again with the electrical college
Soon after, Rick Shenkman at Salon called American voters on their ignorance. Shenkman points out scary statistics like how only two in five Americans can name all three branches of government.
However, after boldly stating the tyranny of what everybody knows, he lamented Kerry’s comment, because it’s cannon fodder for Republicans during election season. To an extent, Shenkman’s right – voters don’t like the snooty elite (re: anyone not having Tea or otherwise voting Republican) looking down their noses, calling them stupid. Republicans should stop throwing down the populist card. Smarter voters would be a good thing and voters should get the facts.
Before huffing and stomping their feet, sensitive Americans should probably do 10 minutes of Googling the history of propaganda:
“Because the masses are notoriously short sighted and generally cannot see danger until it is at their throats, our statesman are forced to deceive them into an awareness of their own long-run interests.” - Thomas Bailey, Historian
“The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.” - Edward Bernays, grandfather of “public relations”
Unfortunately, no politician wants voters to have all the facts. Unfortunately, people are easily manipulated by pretty words, catch phrases and good looking politicians.
Unfortunately, people would rather be upset and outraged by sentiment rather than find their own opinions based on lengthy research. Take, for example, a recent survey from Gallup. Respondents were asked to describe the federal government in one word or phrase. Gallup found that “Overall, 72% of responses about the federal government are negative, touching on its inefficiency, size, corruption, and general incompetence, with the most common specific descriptions being “too big,” “confused,” and “corrupt.””
Such results aren’t shocking at all, but the big elephant hanging out in the corner would like to remind everyone playing that YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT. I’ve said it before, but in the supposedly freest country in the known universe with the best Democracy money can buy, the average citizen should not only make informed choices when selecting a representative, but engage themselves in something more than the spectacle of betting on who’s winning what district.If you happen to be offended by John Kerry’s statement, perhaps before assuming that the Washington elite wants to rub your nose in their intellectual blue blood, you may want to first check your own political knowledge. Furthermore, you might want to engage yourself in building the kind of world you want to see, rather than simply checking a box and complaining later. Otherwise, we all really do get the government we deserve.