The dumbing down of American politics
Obviously, there are lots of culprits in this pernicious process, but if you’re looking for an example of a particuarly egregious recent contributor, check out the latest absurdity from the “nonpartisan” advocates over at the Pope-Civitas Institute; it’s their new “candidate questionaire survey.”
At one level, the survey is handy: in just 36 questions, the caring and thinking reader is provided with about 34 reasons to find Civitas’ official litmus tests on the issues of the day abhorrent. On virtually every question, you can quickly see the answer the Pope-Civitasers hope to elicit and then feel anger and amazement that a wealthy chain store magnate is trying to foist such an extreme and regressive agenda on our state.
At another level, however, the whole thing is simply frightening. Indeed, it’s hard not to conclude that these people really are trying to develop a cadre of political automatons; Stepford husbands and wives who will mindlessly regurgiate the approved/commanded answers on any subject under the sun — from reproductive freedom to taxes to offshore oil drilling.
Since when did it become “conservative” to oppose something like same day voter registration? Moreover, why in the heck does anyone care what a candidate for schools Superintendent thinks about renewable energy or business subsidies?
There are, of course, occasional little glimmers of sanity/political realism in the answers provided. John “Tea Party” Tedesco is “undecided” about repealing the minimum wage and Ag Commish Steve Troxler is unwilling to say whether he thinks the state spends too much on education.
But for the most part, all of the candidates to reply (the majority of whom are Republican) clearly were doing their best to pass the Pope-Civitas right-wing litmus tests. Most were only too happy to provide one word (“agree” or “disagree”) to dozens of leading questions on enormously complex and important issues that ought not to be subjected to such shallow treatment.
The bottom line: I know, I know — lots of folks of differing political stripes do these damned things. But few have a gazillionaire political boss standing at the ready to turn his machine loose on anyone who dares waver from the prescribed answers and approved points of view. Sadly, if these questions are any indication of who will be elected to office in our state in the years to come, things are gonna get worse before they get better.