As voters stepped into the polls, they came armed with their opinions, their emotions, their gut feelings, their peer pressure, their community organizers’ suggestions and a variety of other decision-making tools that will never supplant bare-bones knowledge on the issues.
Last time around, it was Diddy warning citizens to “Vote or Die,” but last year a study by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press nearly gave the world of punditry a collective heart attack. Looking at the survey somberly reminds us that these are the people who voted, volunteered, were perhaps cajoled into registering by an ambitious, compensated town crier with a clipboard.
Only 36 percent of Pew respondents could name Vladimir Putin as the president of Russia — even when he’d been president for nearly eight years. Only two-thirds could name their own state’s governor. Sixty-nine percent could even identify our vice president, even with Dick Cheney’s starring role as the butt of liberal jokes. Just 37 could peg the chief justice of the Supreme Court as leaning conservative, and even fewer respondents, 32 percent, could name Sunni as the Islam branch opposite Shia. And on, and on.
Too many American voters sleepwalk through the world, and yet lined up to pick the next leader of the free world. And now, Barack Obama, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders — a world where many of its inhabitants would like to see a weaker United States so that they can feel stronger themselves, and have won agreement from many on the American left. You have constituents and global onlookers alike who think that the reputation of the U.S. is paramount to doing the right — even if unpopular — thing.
Here are five things you should remember about the world today — and that you should cling to stronger than upper-class citizens’ money: