Democracy cannot withstand mass idiocy. It can't and we're seeing the proof of it right now south of our border. The Guardian addressed America's civic illiteracy three weeks ago. Chris Hedges wrote a powerful lament on the subject in 2008.
Now Max Boot has penned an ode to what he calls a "confederacy of dunces."
The longer this election season goes on, the more evidence we are seeing of the cost of the shocking ignorance inculcated by our system of schooling. Late-night comedians have made a running joke out of this civic illiteracy with their “man on the street” interviews with people who cannot, for example, identifypictures of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, or Jimmy Carter. Surveys show that such ignorance is not out of the norm.
As Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute notes in the Daily Beast: “By the end of the 1990s, two thirds of high school seniors were unable to identify the 50-year period in which the Civil War was fought; half didn’t know in which half century World War I took place. More than half could not name the three branches of government. A majority had no idea what the Gettysburg address was all about. Fifty two percent chose Germany, Japan or Italy as ‘U.S. allies’ in World War II.” It gets worse: “Several years ago Newsweek asked a sample of 1000 voters to take the same test that new immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass. One third of the respondents couldn’t name the vice president and half didn’t know that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Only one third knew that the Constitution is considered the nation’s highest law.”
For those who imagine this descent into intellectual oblivion is inadvertent, think again.