August 10, 2007

“The political knowledge of the average voter has been tested repeatedly, and the scores are impressively low. In polls taken since 1945, a majority of Americans have been unable to name a single branch of government, define the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative,’ and explain what the Bill of Rights is. More than two-thirds have reported that they do not know the substance of Roe v. Wade and what the Food and Drug Administration does. Nearly half do not know that states have two senators and three-quarters do not know the length of a Senate term. More than 50 percent of Americans cannot name their congressman; forty percent cannot name either of their senators. Voters’ notions of government spending are wildly distorted: the public believes that foreign aid consumes twenty-four percent of the federal budget, for instance, though it actually consumes about one percent.”

Louis Menand, from “Fractured Franchise - Are the wrong people voting?” in The New Yorker

HT: Total Buzz.

Jay Leno has been making hay with this for years, going out on the streets and asking very basic questions of passers-by, usually louts with bill caps on backwards.

Ain't democracy wonderful?

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