The mantra used to be: “Greed is good”. Today it seems it is: “Stupid is good”.
One of the most read posts I have ever submitted on the net was entitled “Mass ignorance is the worst enemy of democracy”.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd says the same thing in her latest column. She says it is dangerous enough when there are ignorant voters (an occupational hazard of democracy), but worse yet when there are ignorant candidates and they seem so proud to be ignorant. The link to her column follows:
She refers specifically to GOP presidential candidate and Texas governor Rick Perry and GOP presidential candidate and congresswoman Michele Bachman of Minnesota.
That these two could even be taken seriously on the national stage is a wonder to me.
While George W. Bush was an intellectual lightweight to say the least, he had the cover of his family, most notably his father, who seemed to have a more refined persona.
But make no mistake about it, there is a strong sentiment out there on the hustings against anything that smacks of too much book learning and elitism. And when you look at what a mess some of the elitists have gotten all of us into or in some cases have gone along with, you can see why elitism has received such a bad rap.
Nonetheless, I would prefer candidates who value knowledge and science over superstition and who are egalitarian and who do not appeal to religious prejudices and racial and social enmities that exist and probably always will, as well as ones who prefer reason over ideological dogma.
The voters, the ones who are dissatisfied with the status quo at least, just want results and are ready to be swayed by the most shrill voices.
Democratic political activist James Carville may have been right, though, in his call for president Barack Obama to raise the volume a little himself for his own political survival. That’s how elections are won.
If the Republicans after their convention next year put up one of their modern-day know nothings, the voting decision will not be hard for me.
If they put up someone who comes off intelligent and can make a good case (and I don’t know who that would be (Romney, I am not at all sure about) it will be a much tougher decision.
I do fear, though, in all of this, that our society is getting dumb and dumber. Many jobs, ones that still exist, have been dumbed down so it is easier to obtain employees and so those employees have less leverage to demand higher compensation. Scores for college placement tests continue to decline. And we constantly get those stories about young people demonstrating complete ignorance as to history and geography. And why do we have to import workers for both low tech and high tech? Much of the population is not only ignorant, but perhaps a little lazy too.
Technology has made so many of us never have to figure out anything.
And we have all but lost any cultural values in our popular entertainment. Apparently stupid sells better.
But I am not depressed in all of this. I’m just an observer, and I am extremely thankful that my folks inspired me to be interested in life. I did not become rich, and yet I am still interested in so many things and am able to enjoy life because I have read and continue to read (not enough perhaps) and I have observed the things and people around me. And I take a certain social responsibility in that I keep up on local and national and world events and I vote.
Oh, and that post I did on ignorance being the enemy of democracy is at: https://tonywalther.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/mass-ignorance-is-the-worst-enemy-of-democracy/
And maybe I am not smart enough myself to say exactly what I want at times. I am not saying that a presidential candidate has to come off as an elite snob or sound like the late PBS host Alistair Cooke, or a better example, the late William F. Buckely Jr. I am just saying I would like to feel that the candidate has had a well-rounded education and appreciated it and is able to express himself or herself well. There is always the danger to a candidate if the candidate comes off as so intelligent and articulate that the common person cannot understand him. I couldn’t find the quote, but the late 1950s losing Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson admitted as much.
Unlike a lot of bloggers, I do worry about my own grammatical errors and typos and sometimes missing syntax, and I have the bad habit of posting and then going back over everything (it seems I only catch a lot of errors by reading the actual published post) so that sometimes I am embarrassed to see obvious goofs and know that someone has already read it — an occupational hazard, one might say (at least,unlike my days in print journalism, I can correct them).