Are American voters dumb?

Throughout the ages, brilliant thinkers have depended on less educated cadres to fight their wars. Rather than battles being fought by noble men from prestigious families, wars of attrition are fought by wise men with a surplus of needy participants on the front lines.   Through selfless sacrifice of one’s own life for liberty came the entitlement to liberty and the right to have an opinion. However, is the mere sacrifice of one’s own life enough to entitle them to policy decisions and the right to contribute to who runs the free, and even the not so free, world?

Are American voters dumb?
by Kelly Jester

With universal suffrage comes a certain responsibility to our fellow-men. We have not only a responsibility to vote for the candidate who represents our interests, but also the one who may contribute to the overall good of others. However, for many American voters we can easily question if they hold the sophistication to participate in such a high stakes game. But further to the point, are less sophisticated Americans more easily exploited for political gain?

Flashback to just a few years ago. Remember when news broke over the controversial comments of MIT professor Jonathon Gruber? Gruber, an architect in the development of the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, exposed the perception of Americans by policy makers with harsh statements over how Democrats would ultimately go about passing the bill. According to Gruber, the Affordable Care Act owes its entire passage to the “stupidity of the American voter”. Essentially, what Gruber was referring to is how the massive population of voters who supported the Affordable Care Act had no more of an understanding of the complexities of a bill being made and the possibilities of how it would impact the American public than what they learned from Schoolhouse Rock.  Without a clear understanding of the inner workings of the law and its impact, Gruber made the connection that voters’ pigeonholed views of policy making entitled elite politicians with the ability to stick it to the American public without an ounce of backlash.

Before we get too excited and start to curse those darn Democrats, it might be wise to take a look at what we have in front of us today. In the run-up to 2016 presidential election, candidates in the Republican field have had their share of harsh words for just how ignorant we all must be. Republican primary candidate Donald Trump didn’t stray too far from the theme when he took the initiative to blame all of the nations immigration problems on the ignorance of our current politicians on the Hill. During the first GOP primary debate in August, Trump doubled down with harsh language targeting our countries elected officials who, he claims, are responsible for allowing illegals to enter the country. Based upon such generalization, Trump alleges that he is so much smarter than those making policy and even those constituents who elected them.

However, recent analysis of Trump, his campaign and his base reveals a startling concern regarding the intelligence of the American public. Keep in mind that Trump is currently leading the GOP pack with roughly 25 percent of likely Republican voters.

Interestingly, among those showing support for Trump, education levels and grammar reveal such voters may be quickly characterized with a similar stigma Gruber made just months ago. In an article published by USA Today, Iiya Somin alleges that voters who are currently carrying Trump to such high figures in the polls are grossly uneducated and politically ignorant. Such information is based, in part, on an ABC/Washington Post survey, which determined that 40 percent of likely Republican voters currently supporting Trump do not have a college degree, while only 19 percent do.

Clearly, Somin is making the insinuation that those voters who are supporting Trump lack the political sophistication of the noble white landowners who formed this country. Even though there is a certain disparagement to the remarks, research may reveal a very ugly truth.

According to a study performed by Grammarly, a grammar checking app, Republican candidates ranked much higher in grammar errors when positing on Republican candidates Facebook pages than among Democrat rivals. However, among the GOP field of candidates, those participating in conversations about Trump contribute the highest concentration of grammatical errors. While there may be many explanations to the apparent reduction in literacy among Trump supporters, the study does lend significant credence to the claims by Somin. At the end of the day, is it reasonable to make the same assessment that Trump sees an opportunity to exploit less educated voters for the sake of his political ambitions?

For a parting thought on the subject, most Americans are probably less sophisticated in matters of politics. Many Americans don’t seek out political coverage on a daily basis or catch-all the latest political happenings. In some respects, nearly every American likely has a certain degree of, so-called, political ignorance. However, what we can take from this is that often votes are cast without much thought. Decisions are often made with as cavalier of an attitude as what one may watch on television or what beer they will be drinking this weekend.  Just as Gruber claimed that policy could slip through the system without the slightest suspicion and powerful leaders can take the helm through massive curb appeal to those who feel disenfranchised from society, ignorance is often exploited.  Further, what is revealed is that we all have to live with the consequences of those who have the right to participate. In light of such revelations, many may often question if we are all just too dumb to be trusted with the keys to the shop.

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