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on 19/3/17
Racists, Gun-Fetishists, Conspiracy Nuts, Religious Kooks & Brainwashed Fools
The Low-Information American Voter
In a democracy, voting requires a certain level of intellectual engagement by the electorate. The Founding Fathers assumed that citizens would possess a minimum level of knowledge of the issues of the day, and why not? Literacy was very high even during the Colonial era. Libraries and newspapers were common in American cities, and the postal service made distribution of printed material cheap and easily accessible. What the Founders could not have imagined was an American political party that traded exclusively in lies, or a media devoted to a concept like "fake news" (aka right-wing propaganda). No, these are phenomena unique to our own cynical times, as are citizens who would cast their vote for a vulgar, dishonest and ignorant con-man.

In their naiveté, the Founders assumed that the Electoral College would protect the nation they created from the rise of a sleazy demagogue riding the passions of the ignorant and insane. But our institutions have now failed us. When Benjamin Franklin was asked if the Constitutional Convention had created a monarchy or a republic, he answered, "A republic, if you can keep it." With the election of Donald Trump as president, our generation may have failed in its responsibility as citizens to "keep it."