Uninformed Government Officials
Robert A. Levine
For years, I have believed the problems of democracy, especially in America were due to uninformed voters. These voters who knew little about the workings of government or what the positions of the candidates were on various issues, would elect officials who were often incompetent or venal. In addition, many of these officials who attained victory at the polls were also uninformed about how government functioned, basic civics, many political issues, history, geography and economics. And these people who were lacking in knowledge about the government and economics, were making and passing the laws that regulated American lives in a complex world.
I have written a book about democracy’s shortcomings (The Uninformed Voter) which was the result of voluminous research on American history and politics. However, I must say that uninformed or corrupt government officials, though elected by uninformed citizens, bear equal responsibility with voters for democracy’s failings. People without political or historical knowledge run for office because they realize that uninformed voters will not hold them to task and that they can get elected by telling voters what they want to hear, whether true or not. Trump is a prime example of a person who lacked the necessary information to govern appropriately, but had a high SQ (social quotient) and was able to connect well with uninformed voters to get himself elected.
We can examine Trump and his cohort later, but a newly elected senator, Tommy Tuberville, is another illustration of an individual who lacks basic knowledge of history and politics attaining high office. Prior to his Senate bid, Tuberville was a successful football coach at Auburn University and did not claim to have any special political expertise when seeking the Senate seat from Alabama on the Republican ticket.
However, in an interview on CNN recently, he revealed his ignorance regarding the Constitution, the structure of government and modern history. First of all, he wanted to change the date of the inauguration to make it safer, not aware that the 20th of January is prescribed as Inauguration Day in the Constitution. Secondly, he named the three branches of the federal government as the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency, forgetting the judicial branch and that the legislative branch consisted of both the House and the Senate. Thirdly, he declared that World Wat II was fought to free Europe of socialism, apparently forgetting about the Nazis in Europe as America’s enemy during World War II. Is he really a senator?
Trump became president totally unprepared for the job with little knowledge of government structure or function, uninformed about the Constitution and the limits it imposes, and with scant information of American history. He picked advisors who were yes men as he did not like to be contradicted or to be reminded how ignorant he was. Throughout his presidency, he constantly lied about his actions and accomplishments topped by his lie about winning the 2020 presidential election. Unfortunately, millions of Americans were unable to differentiate between Trump’s lies and the truth, leading to an insurrection of his followers to try and maintain his presidency.
In 2020, Americans also elected two Congressional members who believe in QAnon conspiracy theories which are totally bizarre. And the majority of Republicans in the House have supported Trump’s lie that he won the election, showing that they lack basic information or are simply afraid of the president. Our democracy cannot survive if our citizens continue to elect officials who are uninformed about of government and are willing to lie to the American electorate. How do we get voters to meet their responsibilities to know about government and politics before they vote and to elect officials who are also knowledgeable about the jobs they will assume?
The Uninformed Voter can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or through www.indiebound.org- your independent bookstore