All the while I was having a laugh over bumperstickers proclaiming that some village in Texas was missing its idiot, George W. Bush was having his Machiavellian laugh on me: he's not an idiot, he's simply a consummate dissembler. A similar lesson dawned on me upon reading Rick Shenkman's piece in The Washington Post, 5 Myths About Those Civic-Minded, Deeply Informed Voters.
OK, so if the American public isn't stupid, what are they?
I mean, a society in which half of the population makes about $50,000 or less voted twice for Reagan and three times for a Bush, despite the fact that these men abundantly showed in their policies that they only cared about the top 5 percent of all earners, those who make about $175,000 a year -- or much, much more. Something's wrong, no?
How can Americans consistently support the pauperization of single mothers and children? War? Greed? Sucking oil and other resources from other countries at exploitative and polluting rates?
Far fetched, you think? How about the many instances in which bystanders in America did nothing to help someone being victimized? How about the cities in which ignored beggars have become the norm? How about a public that is always keen to see the rights and the suffering of white Americans and oblivious to their trampling on those of everyone else?
American history is, when you think of it, one rape and pillage and looting after another: from the swindled Indians to the kidnapped Africans to the conquered Mexicans to the abused women to the exploited and overworked working majority. Who stole the land and enslaved and stole again and put down and underpaid? Martians? Who was complicit in all this? Venusians?
If American voters really aren't stupid. If the Rush Limbaugh dittoheads score unassailably high on intelligence and general knowledge tests, as Shenkman credibly proposes, then the venom they endorse is really in their hearts of hearts.
Now there's a scary thought. Close to half the population, or enough to make up a convincing show of being a majority, are mean enough to actually want truly bad stuff to happen.