According to a recent Pew poll, almost half of the U.S. is still unaware of last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, limiting Congress’s power to control private choices through reliance on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, and flagging the Democrat deceit in passing a substantial tax on the middle class while hiding the fact in public and political discourse. 15% of the public must have been watching Fox and CNN the way listeners of Orson Welles “The War of the Worlds” listened to the 1938 radio broadcast, turning the dial before misinformation was clarified. These trusting or lazy souls still think the ACA was over-turned. This is, admittedly, better than thinking the world has been conquered by Martians.
The poll means that as we head into a watershed election that challenges the nation to make hard choices about its future course in tax policy, addressing the debt and deficit, foreign policy, commitment to national defense, entitlement reform, immigration, education, infrastructure renewal, employment, financial regulation, and equally vital matters that could have a decisive impact on America’s success, stability and even survival, one half of the public lack the interest and initiative to stay current with crucial national developments.
This is sad, if not especially startling, news. Obviously the two political parties suspected it, since their campaign ads, including those approved by the President who once promised to be straight with us, are filled with half-truths, misdirection, spin, falsehoods and outright fabrications, perfect for persuasion of the dim, the slothful, the apathetic and the barely-awake. Yet on the day after America’s birthday, it is especially disheartening to be reminded that such a large glob of our countrymen (and women) happily abdicate their duties as engaged citizens in a republic, making good and responsive government more difficult for the rest of us to achieve, and paving the road for liars and scoundrels to drive the United States to disaster.
It is not as if the ethical duties of citizenship are something new. Plato had it right 2500 years ago, when he wrote (in Greek, in “Laws” ):
“A citizen already has a calling which will make full demands on him, in view of the wide practice and study it involves….a task that permits no relegation to second place.”
Willful ignorance of civic affairs and national issues burdens the rest of us. The bewildered 45% aren’t merely useless, they are an anchor on the success of our society. The proper response to your ignorant friends and associates is anger and admonishment. They are, quite simply, not doing their job as Americans.
Pointer: ABA Journal
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at email@example.com.