We need to stop “Rocking the Vote,” and instead make an effort to educate our population. I recognize that basic knowledge and literacy exams were a proxy for African-American disenfranchisement. But how can democracy work when voters are stooopid? It’s embarrassing when other countries make fun of our citizens; it’s painful when they are right.
We no longer have the outrageous levels of support for an invasion of Iraq that were being reported months ago, but it still seems inevitable that sometime after Christmas we will begin a significant air campaign, possibly followed by a ground invasion. Wouldn’t be nice if those who were most likely to be drafted knew where Iraq was? But they don’t. That ignorance has held us once again up to ridicule in other parts of the world.
A recent National Geographic Survey showed just how little 18-26 year-olds know about the world they live in. Only a quarter of the respondents could name the two countries in the world with populations of over 1 billion. Few could locate countries America has or will invade. A part of me wants desperately to think that this survey was a really a measure of how much young Americans like to pull people’s chains. After all, when you answer the online version of the survey (which is multiple choice), it’s pretty tempting to answer China when they ask you to locate Italy. But having a great deal of interaction with the target age group, I know that the numbers are probably pretty reflective of general knowledge of the world. I wonder how they would do on this one. I wonder how our congressmen would do.
Should the significant portion of respondents who could not locate the US on a map be allowed to vote? Some say geography doesn’t really matter. This, however, is not trivia. This basic level of where places are in the world is related, I suspect, to how well people understand that world. Should those who do not understand the world be allowed to bomb it?