If you caught Jordan Klepper’s most recent report on election deniers on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” you’d think half the country had lost its mind, or, at the very least, had never had a class in American government, had never developed the ability to think critically, had never grown up.
Klepper travels among the Make America Great Again crowd, so his man-in-the-street samplings of opinion are skewed, and they are meant to be comical. Still, listening to men and women explain on camera their continued support of Donald Trump and their embrace of his big lies, you would certainly fear that a disregard for facts and obsessions with conspiracy theories had reached critical mass, a development poisonous to democracy. Denying that Joe Biden won the 2020 election should be disqualifying for any candidate; instead, some voters see it as an attribute.
Fortunately, the election results this week suggest that denialism is not as strong a force as we have feared.
I got into this in my column the other day, Election Day, wondering, as my brother Joe had suggested, if the problem with a lot of Americans is that they don’t get enough civics education — that too many lack a basic understanding of democratic principles and how government functions. Joe might be right, though the level of American government education varies, depending on where students live and what school they attend. Some states are better than others in terms of what they require of students before they graduate from high school.
Good government advocates think civics should be taught much earlier, starting at least in middle grades, if not before.
But let’s face it: There’s a lot working against even the best foundation in government and democracy.
First, Republicans have been denigrating government for decades, and, now that John McCain has departed, I can’t think of a single prominent Republican who promotes careers in public service.
Maybe it’s not more civics education that’s needed as much as more critical thinking, more training in how to discern a credible source of news and information from a crackpot one, more acceptance of agreed-upon facts.
Ugly ideas, conspiracy theories and political disinformation get into heads after high school, when people are supposedly grown up and voting — that constitutes the greater threat.
Still, the election results offer some hope. So I’m going to end on that note.
4 thoughts on “On Americans who support election deniers, doubters and other dopey politicians on the right”
Not sure if you would regard Liz Cheney as a “prominent Republican” but, despite her rather conservative political views, she seems to favor democracy and promotes public service. Of course, when you have to think hard for Republicans who meet this test, it proves your point.
Thank you Dan for this glimmer of hope for our country.
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I absolutely agree, the dumbing down of America. Our education system compared countries to other western countries is dismal. Not wanting to know your history the good and the bad means we are prone to making the same mistakes. Not wanting to know basic scientific facts in favor of biblical theology means we wind up with a population that won’t receive vaccines. It just goes on and on. We are our own worse enemy and I believe that this will be the decline of America.
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First, hello to cousin Joe. The problem with “civics education” is the content of what is taught. Is it the storybook version of “the greatest democracy the world has ever known where one person gets one vote” or is it something closer to the reality of the military- national security-industrial-Wall Street-lobbyist-complex dominating all else ? Wacko theories and beliefs are fostered by the very failure of “civics” to square with that domination because wackiness provides an easy explanation for that failure. Good luck getting school boards to teach the hypocrisy of “civics.”