By Gary Berg-Cross
But as Ezra Klein pointed out in Washington Post blog “uninformed” need not mean “dumb.” We are all uninformed about some things, say the Redskins roster, when the World Series starts or why the banks failed in 2008. The culprit is human attention. At least that is the what political scientist Lynn Vavreck (UCLA) explains it:
“They are lower on political information, for sure. That’s a function of being not that interested and not paying attention. It’s not that they can’t comprehend the information, or that they’re at a balancing point and can’t decide. They’re just not dialed in. They’re not getting all the information you or I are getting.”
It’s hard to remember details like the Senate GOP plan to help the economy. It included such general topics as:
1. Cut “job-killing regulations”
2. Add a balance the Budget Amendment to the Constitution;
3. Line Item Veto for the President.
4. Reduce corporate taxes;
5. Reduce the top tax rate to 25%;
6. Repeal Obamacare.
Who has time to fact check the details and implications?
A third of people in Vavreck’s polling did not feel they “knew enough” to give President Obama a job rating. That may be because the info isn’t current, or being argued by opponents or maybe even because one needs to think things through. It could be a mix of good and bad reasons. It does take effort to process information even when we devote attention to it. Yes and perhaps a bit is generated by an adversarial system that recognizes human limitations and intends to confuse. Better to have results determined by one’s base.
But all of this just doesn’t seem right for a Jeffersonian Democracy. Maybe we need some directed civics to make all citizens interested participants. Ads are like giving a person a fish. Free fishy ads at election time. But if we teach citizens how to fish for information themselves they is a lifetime of a healthier diet.
Image Credits:Taxes 101 for the Low Information Voters: http://manwiththemuckrake.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/taxes-101-for-the-low-information-voters/
Undecided voters: http://www.facebook.com/NPR
Low Info Voter: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002967593
Teach a child to fish; http://www.eclipse-magazine.it/cultura/le-interviste-di-eclipse/intervsta-a-erica-bertollotto-manager-di-teach-a-man-to-fish.html