(Via Andrew Sullivan)
Remember back in October when the denizens of Democraticunderground.com were frothing at the mouth over the California recall election? One poster over there with the handle “janekat” wrote:
What we MUST realize in order to win – Americans are stupid and uninformed
This is very important because in order to win we must understand the way the average American thinks. I’m afraid WE have nothing in common with them.
I came to the two following conclusions when I saw the large number of people who voted for Bush back in 2000.
#1 – I would dare to assume that most of us here are in the upper 1%-20% of the population intelligence-wise. We must come to the realization that the majority of the population is in the lower 80% to 99% percent of the bell-curve. WE are not the norm.
Yup, the Democrats believe that the majority is too stupid to be trusted with their own governance. But, you say, Democraticunderground.com represents the tattered fringe of the left, surely their opinions can be discounted as the ravings of barking moonbats?
Possibly not. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has printed a guest editorial by one Neal Starkman, who echoes the same sentiment. The piece begins:
It’s increasingly obvious, for example, that none of the so-called theories can explain President Bush’s popularity, such as it is. Even at this date in his presidency, after all that has happened, the president’s popularity hovers at around 50 percent — an astonishingly high figure, I believe, given the state of people’s lives now as opposed to four years ago.
What can explain his popularity?
Actually, according to this site, his current approval rating is 60%, and has never dropped below 49%.
But Mr. Starkman has an explanation for this, to him, astonishing fact:
It’s the “Stupid factor,” the S factor: Some people — sometimes through no fault of their own — are just not very bright.
It’s not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren’t the people I’m referring to. The people I’m referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They’re perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don’t have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all — far above all — they don’t think.
That’s right, folks. Half the population or more is simply too stupid to understand foreign policy, constitutional law, macroeconomics and environmentalism. They’re too stupid to to even understand cause and effect!
Obviously they’re too stupid to be trusted with DEMOCRACY.
During the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential election I wrote a peice entitled An Uncomfortable Conclusion. In it I said:
With the continuing legal maneuvers in the Florida election debacle, I have been forced to a conclusion that I may have been unconsciously fending off. The Democratic party thinks we’re stupid. Not “amiable uncle Joe” stupid, but DANGEROUSLY stupid. Lead-by-the-hand-no-sharp-objects-don’t-put-that-in-your-mouth stupid. And they don’t think that just Republicans and independents are stupid, no no! They think ANYBODY not in the Democratic power elite is, by definition, a drooling idiot. A muttering moron. Pinheads barely capable of dressing ourselves.
Take, for example, the position under which the Gore election machine petitioned for a recount – that only supporters of the Democratic candidate for President lacked the skills necessary to vote properly, and that through a manual recount those erroneously marked ballots could be “properly” counted in Mr. Gore’s favor. They did this in open court and on national television, and with a straight face.
So, it is with some regret that I can no longer hold that uncomfortable conclusion at bay:
They’re right. We are.
The difference between my position and Mr. Starkman’s? I understand that the purpose of a Constitutional Republic is to prevent the tyranny of the majority. That’s why there’s a Constitution that spells out what the government can and can’t do. That’s why there’s an Electoral College. That’s why there’s a Bill of Rights.
Mr. Starkman makes a strong point for the idea that the people cannot be trusted with their own governance.
Bzzzzzt! Sorry, Mr. Starkman, wrong answer – because the only conclusion that can then be drawn is that, being too stupid to govern ourselves we must submit to our more intelligent betters. As ‘janekat’ put it, the 1% to 20% of the population who are our superiors “intelligence-wise.” These are the people who understand cause and effect, who grasp foreign policy, constitutional law, macroeconomics and environmentalism. They are our rightful rulers, and we stupid people should just do what they tell us.
Yesterday Andy Duncan of Samizdata posted a most appropriate quote from Ludwig von Mises’ Bureaucracy:
It [modern socialism] is totalitarian in the strict sense of the term. It holds the individual in tight rein from the womb to the tomb. At every instant of his life the ‘comrade’ is bound to obey implicitly the orders issued by the supreme authority. The State is both his guardian and his employer. The State determines his work, his diet, and his pleasures. The State tells him what to think and what to believe in.
That’s the alternative, if you accept Mr. Starkman’s position that we can’t govern ourselves, we’re not qualified.
That’s what happens when you don’t trust The People.
(Edited to add:)
Lately I have found myself too easily seduced into a belief that no one who is neither crazy nor dim-witted nor TV-psychotic nor pretending to be asleep could actually support the policies of the Bush Administration. But the Bush supporters who have arrived here are, with a few exceptions, intelligent, articulate, and more courteous in debate than many of my own cohort. This discussion is a great reminder – as if I should need one – that the other side deserves to be taken as seriously as I would have them take me.
If we in the anti-Bush forces continue to bray about our moral and intellectual superiority, we will almost certainly piss off the troubled folks in the middle who will decide the future of America in the next election.
See? There is hope.
UPDATE: 1/7 – Chris Muir weighs in:
And AlphaPatriot responds in kind, writing about the “Fuzzy Factor.”