Skip to main content

Americans are "clueless"

Lest MPS be accused of an anti-American bias by claiming that Americans are clueless, let it be immediately said, that that is the "verdict" of Frank Bruni in an op-ed piece of his in The New York Times.    The evidence he cites to support his claim is troubling.....to say the least!   And this is the country said to be leading the West!!!

"The problems with our country’s political discourse are many and grave, but an insufficient attention to Obamacare isn’t among them. We have talked Obamacare to death, or at least into home hospice care. The “Obamacare” shorthand itself reflects our need to come up with less of a mouthful than “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” given how regularly the topic recurs. “Obamacare” is like “J. Lo” or “KFC.” It saves syllables and speeds things along.

So explain this: according to a recent poll, roughly 40 percent of Americans don’t even know that it’s a law on the books.

Now if I learned that 40 percent weren’t aware of when Obamacare was to be fully implemented or whether any of it had yet gone into practice or precisely how it’s likely to affect them, I wouldn’t be surprised or distressed. Obamacare is nothing if not unwieldy and opaque: “Ulysses” meets “Mulholland Drive.” The people confused about it include no small number of the physicians I know and probably a few of the law’s authors to boot.

But 40 percent of Americans are clueless about its sheer existence. Some think it’s been repealed by Congress.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.

According to a survey I stumbled across just weeks ago, 21 percent believe that a U.F.O. landed in Roswell, N.M., nearly seven decades ago and that the federal government hushed it up, while 14 percent believe in Bigfoot.

According to another survey, taken last year, about 65 percent of us can’t name a single Supreme Court justice. Not the chief one, John Roberts. Not the mute one, Clarence Thomas. Not even the mean one, Antonin Scalia. Though when it comes to Scalia, perhaps the body politic suffers less from ignorance than from repressed memory.

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. And it adds an important, infrequently acknowledged bit of perspective to all the commentary, from us journalists and from political strategists alike, about how voters behave and whom they reward. We purport to interpret an informed, rational universe, because we’d undercut our own insights if we purported anything else.



But only limited sense can be made of what is often nonsensical, and the truth is that a great big chunk of the electorate is tuned out, zonked out or combing Roswell for alien remains. Polls over the last few years have variously shown that about 30 percent of us couldn’t name the vice president, about 35 percent couldn’t assign the proper century to the American Revolution and 6 percent couldn’t circle Independence Day on a calendar. I’m supposing that the 6 percent weren’t also given the holiday’s synonym, the Fourth of July. I’m an optimist through and through."

****

"At a heated point of the 2012 presidential primaries, when both Rick Santorum and the news media were making much of his faith and fecundity, less than 30 percent of voters could identify his religious affiliation as Catholic, according to one poll. 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."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Whatever democracy the Palestinians had is dying

Almost a desperate cry from a well-known, respected and sober moderate Palestinian.

Mustafa Barghouthi is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was a candidate for the Palestinian presidency in 2005.

He writes in a piece "The Slow Death of Palestinian Democracy" on FP:

"Palestinian municipal elections were supposed to be held last week. Instead, they were canceled. A statement released by the Palestinian Authority claimed the cancellation was "in order to pave the way for a successful end to the siege on Gaza and for continued efforts at unity" between Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and the government in the West Bank.

The cancellation of this election was an unjustified, unlawful, and unacceptable act. It damages democratic rights and makes a mockery of the interests of the Palestinian people.

But this is far more than an internal Palestinian issue. The only lasting peace between Isr…

Big Brother alive and well in the USA in 2007

The so-called "war on terror" has shown itself up in a multitude of manifestations. The most dangerous thing has been governments using the "excuse" of the war to restrict certain civil liberties, allowing government agencies to pursue a variety of things that they would otherwise would not - and should not - be allowed to do and gathering, and retaining, a variety of information on its citizens.

The Washington Post reports on the latest incursions into civil liberties of all Americans:

"The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as lo…