For several years now we have heard much of the plague of “low information voters” — those legions of the supposedly ignorant who walk, clueless on the issues, into our polling places, casting their votes for candidates the details of whose programs are as familiar to them as quantum mechanics.
But we may have a more significant problem. There are a number of people who are at least somewhat cognizant of quantum mechanics to whom the details of the issues of the day are just as unfamiliar — the modern liberal intelligentsia. I’m not talking about the punditocracy here, the Thomas Friedmans of the world, who are certainly aware of the issues (well, more or less) even if they evaluate them in peculiar ways. I’m talking about the workaday liberal, the well-educated professionals who are our friends, relatives and neighbors. They are, increasingly, low information voters, living in willful or perhaps willed blindness.
In a recent months I have been startled by many examples of this. In a casual conversation, an Ivy League graduate and author of several best-selling books asked me what I meant by “quantitative easing,” although it has been one of the keys to the economic policies of the last half-dozen years. Since the man is highly intelligent, my conclusion was he didn’t want to know about such details because they would lead to him having to examine long-held assumptions, assumptions it would be uncomfortable to question for a whole set of reasons. Remember, these are people who voted for Obama, twice, and now are just becoming aware that many of us consider him the worst president ever and have pretty good reasons. And the public is beginning to agree with us. This is hard to process.