Jay Leno has made a career proving that idiots are easy to find. The old man in this piece proves however that at one time we were able to pass on civic knowledge through the education system. The question is why we have failed to do so in the last 30 years despite ever growing education budgets. Obviously there is little correlation between knowledge and money.
What is disturbing about the trend is that educations prime directive should be to ingrain in the mushy headed little mutants the importance of the social order the majority of Americans hold in esteem. It was Jefferson who said public education was needed so that the next generation could learn the sciences that would propel progress but more importantly would inform every citizen as to those things that threaten their freedom. If I was a conspiratorial right wing nut job I might propose that this dumbing down of American students was an intentional plot to lead the sheeple into the world of 1984.
A teacher friend recently wrote to me that “more civic literacy would allow more people to tell the right wing that their "back to the good old days of the constitution" mantra so popular this time of year is for the most part a lot of hot air.” His contention that more civic education would create less conservatives and not more would make for interesting research but generally speaking idiots are generally not a big concern. Most of them don’t participate in the system and even if they do they are normally able to gather enough reliable information, in the aggregate, to come to a rational decision.
What Jefferson feared was that in times of stress idiots are susceptible to manipulation and a perfect storm of crisis, charisma, and a complicit media could bring us a Socialist demagogue in chief. The question is, how do we make idiots harder to find so this doesn't happen again.