Comments about ‘George F. Will: Here's what rampant political ignorance gives us’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 2 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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clearfield, UT

Having gone through school in the 60's, in California, I clearly remember the civics and history, classes that taught me the essentials of what the United States is about, and how its government works. That along with our responsibilities of citizenship. I wonder if that stuff is taught in todays primary schools. If not, then it should be.

high school fan
Huntington, UT

If you went almost anywhere and did a random survey most people could not tell you any local officials, any state officials, who the neighboring states are, what the branches of government are or what they do. The tonight shows jaywalking is unfortunately much to true.
The U.S. History they teach today is about events that have occurred in my lifetime, is that really history? We as a country are sadly ignorant of far too much and I can't see it changing.

Thid Barker
Victor, ID

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.
"From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:
"From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage." Alexander Tytler

Is a $17.2 trillion national debt (projected to be + $20 trillion by the time we elect a new President) "loose fiscal policy"?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

And, if not the average voter, who is to make these great, sweeping political decisions about our future? The "political elites". Oh, that will be much better . . .

Sandy, UT

George Will explains why democracy will always be the dream of idealists and utopians. The quote provided by Thid Barker underlines what Will is saying. It is NOT in our best interest to make political processes more democratic. Blaming our education systems for political ignorance is also misguided. Great article.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

I don't think it has anything to do with our education system. It has everything to do with our political and cultural nature. Folks today don't let facts drive their opinions but let opinions drive their facts. Today, people make up their minds about history, global warming, and civil rights and then will pick and choose their facts. Just like the case of global warming or trickle down economics. Humans are the #1 cause of global warming. Just like trickle down economics have failed. Yet, no matter what, folks will argue these points because of religious ties, they liked the actor/President who promoted trickle down, or they're paranoid about the EPA thinking that it has ties to Communism.

Sandy, UT

The Real Maverick makes Will's point. Each of us believes we're the repository of facts while everyone else is merely opinionated. Well done, Maverick!

Tooele, UT

Re: "I don't think it has anything to do with our education system."

No doubt. As I recall, you also don't believe our "education" system has become the posh, enabling playground of cynical liberal fat cats, or calcified in an unacceptable status quo by its ties to trade unionists.

Or, at least that's what you're required to say by a strict liberal orthodoxy which holds you and WAY too many other liberals in thrall.

Unreconstructed Reb
Chantilly, VA

"A better ameliorative measure would be to reduce the risks of ignorance by reducing government's consequences — its complexity, centralization and intrusiveness. In the 19th century, voters' information burdens were much lighter because important federal issues — expansion of slavery, disposition of public lands, tariffs, banking, infrastructure spending — were much fewer."

I'm sorry, Will, but using this list do you really think that reducing the government's complexity, centralization, and intrusiveness somehow mitigates the negative risks of government? All of them were eventually resolved in favor of a stronger federal role. One of them cost the nation over 600,000 dead and the scars of sectionalism for decades.

Yes, 19th century life was "simpler" than this one. But the challenges faced then steadily favored federal power. Today's world is far more complicated, so I see little reason that trend won't continue. Do we really want to cater to lower information burdens for today's challenges? Why not try to raise the capacity of voter information instead of shooting for the lowest denominator? Why not try to get the voters more involved in the democratic process instead of dumbing down the system?

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

And of course George stands like a rock above the sea of stupidity around him. How comforting to be utterly free of confirmation bias oneself....

clearfield, UT


I agree, Maverick really stepped into that one. But it does bring up what I think, besides lack of primary education as I stated above, is an important cause. The web or internet. The problem in todays world is not lack of information, but too much information. Trying to weed through what is true/fact vs. false/fiction, or half truths or half lies. All of us will see in some media source things that support or go against our beliefs. I was having a debate with a family member over the Christmas holiday about whether we actually landed on the moon or not. I'm positive we did, but go on the web and there are many sites that give plausible reasons to doubt it, if you want to. Just like the 911 conspiracys or the Kennedy assination there are so many alternative "truths" out there that it is hard to establish a baseline from which to begin A discussion on many subjects. Particularly political. So I see things getting worse, not better. Sorry I'm a pessimist.

Cedar Hills, UT

"those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it" someone once said. The high measure of ignorance in the general American voting public is the reason an imposter like Obama was elected in the first place. The downfall of America is coming because of the ignorance of the people as sadly predicted by our founders.

Buena Vista, VA

Real Maverick: "Humans are the #1 cause of global warming." This is far, far from proven, and many real climate scientists would absolutely disagree. Many warm and cool ages happened in the earth's past, before industrialization.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Lazy people get a corrupt government. Just look at the posts published daily in this newspaper.

- Look at how many people want to "control" firearms without a Constitutional amendment. The 2nd Amendment prohibits that.

- Look at how many would trade "security" for privacy and allow the NSA to spy on our telephone and email. The 4th Amendment prohibits that.

- Look at how many, including Justice Roberts, think that Congress can tax us for anything that it wants. Article 1, Section 8 lists the seventeen duties of Congress for which taxes can be levied.

- Look at how many are willing to allow Judge Shelby to legislate from the bench. Article 1, Section 1 allows only Congress to legislate.

Don't blame anyone else until you stand for the Constitution as it is written, not as you wish that it were written.

George Will is absolutely correct.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Lincoln wondered if Government of, by, and for the people might perish from the Earth in his time. But advocacy of a plutocratic oligarchy was not the alternative. Democracy comes at a price that expects more than mere survival as the bottom line.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

I am going to go out on a limb and say we landed on the moon...I will call that a FACT. It is also my opinion. So there!

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@SCfan – “I agree, Maverick really stepped into that one.”

Could not disagree more… the only thing Maverick stepped into was (a cogent analysis of) reality.

That much of our political debates are driven by ideology is simply a fact. You can pretend otherwise because you think you’re ideology is true but it doesn’t negate the Achilles Heel of any ideology – it gives you the answer BEFORE looking at the evidence.

Then, in the case of climate change, we go through this song & dance of watching the ideologues cherry pick data, cite out-of-context statements, or quote agenda driven articles all under the guise of “looking at the evidence.” Which would be funny if these people didn’t vote…

@RG – “This is far, far from proven, and many real climate scientists would absolutely disagree.”

If by “many” you mean geologists and engineers employed by the oil & gas industry – otherwise the list of real climate scientists who categorically deny human caused climate change (vs. those who question some details of the data or models) is exceedingly small - on par with the percent who believe Elvis is still alive.

salt lake city, UT

Sey & Maverick you are spot on and several other posters here substantiate you. Take for instance climate change. Close to 99% of accredited climate scientist believe man's activities are responsible for the recent, sharp rise in world tempatures. And just as you can still find people who think the world is flat, you'll find a few who think humans have no impact on our climate.
Yes, the US debt has grown considerably over the past 5 years but it is not so much due to spending as it is to revenues decreasing. In fact revenues are at the lowest levels as a percent of our GDP since the 1950's.
Politicans and pundits will always claim to own the facts but it's more than likely they own an opinion.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Ignorance allows voters to vote for politicians who say they can cut taxes while increasing defense spending, and it won't increase the deficit. They promise to cut some spending, but not anything that affects you.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


"....The downfall of America is coming because of the ignorance of the people as sadly predicted by our founders."

If that’s truly what the founders foresaw, they sure went to a lot of trouble for nothing. Their purpose, as stated In the Constitution, was to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

Some of that posterity they made provision for has become pessimist and defeatist. But the founders themselves expressed great optimism for the future.

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