Newsday published an op-ed of mine today on how ignorance is subverting democracy and liberty. Some people may dispute the porn ratio in the piece; my hunch is that the number errs significantly on the low side. The article is being distributed nationwide by the Los Angeles Times/Washington Post syndicate, so it may pop up in other locales. Here are few bits:
Ignorance is dragging down democracy. Most Americans are increasingly on automatic pilot, paying less attention to each new war, each new power grab, each new presidential assertion. But citizens need not slavishly follow every public debate in order to tilt the playing field against demagoguery.The typical voter fails to comprehend even the basics of government. Most Americans do not know the name of their representative in the House, the length of terms of House or Senate members, or what the Bill of Rights purportedly guarantees, according to surveys by the University of Michigan…..
With the rise of the Internet, it has become much easier to find politicians’ speeches, proposed new laws, and media reports and analyses of government policies. Still, people probably spend a hundred times longer online checking out porn sites than they do tracking down government abuses…. In 1693, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, declared, “Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed.” Penn’s words should make Americans recognize the choice between knowledge and subjugation. People must either better understand government and politicians, or kiss their remaining rights and liberties goodbye.