Last week, Americans were treated to several videos by Jonathan Gruber. Gruber is an MIT economist and one of the chief “architects” of Obama care. In the videos Gruber stated that the law was written in a “torturous” way by design, so that the Congressional Budget Office would not score it as a tax, but as a “penalty”. He all but verified that the Obama administration relied on the “stupidity of the American voter or whatever…” to get the law passed. Many people, political pundits and average ordinary citizens, became outraged by what they already knew…..but now it was in their face, being verified as true.
Gruber is just one of a vast expanse of Ivy League-educated, pointy-headed liberal elitists convinced that those of us existing in “fly- over country” are nothing but empty-headed hayseeds. We go to ordinary jobs, sometimes we even go to Church! We must live on budgets, and we don’t go to fancy Washington D.C. parties because we are too busy chucking cow pies and picking banjos. But on some level, some common sense level, does he have a point?
We all remember Freshmen High School Civics and Government class. We learned about the three branches of government. We learned how many members of Congress there were. We learned how a bill becomes a law, or was that “Schoolhouse Rock” during cartoon time on Saturday morning for those of us who were 70’s kids? Either way, we learned the basics of how our nation worked. Granted, a lot of us paid attention only enough to pass the class, but has time, and real life, aka, jobs, kids, spouses, mortgages, etc., been enough to wipe such basic knowledge right out of our minds?
A recent piece in “Business Insider” may paint a sad picture of just that question. It cites a poll released by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which says that a grand total of just 36% of Americans could name all three branches of government. Thirty-five percent could not name one of them. A whopping 60% could not name which Party controls the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. It could be a remote statistic, but over 70% of Americans did not know of the two-thirds vote of the House and Senate requirement to override a presidential veto. Twenty-one percent thought that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for a final decision.
But it gets worse. While not nearly as scientific, how many times has Fox News Channel’s, Bill O’Reilly, sent out his trusty assistant, Jesse Watters, to show average Americans pictures of prominent political figures such as Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid? All they can muster is a deer-in-the-headlight stare. Aside from those unique residents of Margueritaville in Key West Florida, who are preoccupied with finding that lost shaker of salt, what is the excuse?
Not everyone is a news/political junkie. The current approval rating of Congress may be a very good indication why. But have Americans been so dumbed down by a failing public school system that the basic fundamentals of how the country works are no longer important to know? Are smartphones and Ipads a big part of the problem?
Make no mistake, Jonathan Gruber does have a lot to learn about the American people when it comes to plain old common sense. The average man on the street doesn’t need an MIT degree to know when someone is yanking his chain. He also has a pretty good BS meter and will call it nine times out of ten. But for a relatively small group of bureaucrats, to get one of this magnitude over on the American public, says quite a lot about how and what we might be teaching our kids. It says a whole lot about just how poorly informed the American voter is about the basic mechanism of the nation.
Ivy League pin heads like Jonathan Gruber will come and go. Will we keep allowing them to play us for the fools they think we are?