Here's why. Do these things make you too roll your eyes at the typical person?
- 75% of Americans believe in heaven, 71% in angels, 59% in the devil. (Who are these people? In my entire life, I think I've met two people who believe in angels.)
- Most people spend much more discretionary time playing a sport or staring at a TV set or video game than volunteering to alleviate suffering.
- 26% of Americans don't know that the U.S. declared independence from Britain.
- 40% don't know that the Republicans won the House in 2010
- 45% don't know that the sun is a star.
- Most people forgo careers they'd really enjoy--creative careers, for example--so they can make more money beyond what's needed for a decent existence. They're insurance salespeople, stock brokers, accountants, bond traders, corporate managers or lawyers, for example. And for what? More square feet of house to clean in a tony rather than just decent neighborhood, $100+ frou-frou jeans rather than $30 Levis, diamond rather than cubic zirconium, a new BMW or Mercedes rather than an older Toyota, which is more reliable.
- Millions of men have unprotected sex with a woman whom, if they impregnate, will be on the hook for 18 years of child support if she chooses to have the baby. And only she has that choice to abort or not. He has no control in the matter. (I must admit to having done this...and got lucky.)
- Most people marry rather than just live together even though over half of couples divorce, which often entails enormous financial and psychological pain. (I did this too and again lucked out.)
- 35 million Americans regularly abuse drugs or alcohol, wasting their lives and taking large tolls on their families and society.
- Famed cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish reports that 79% of heart attack victims who are told they much change their diet or die are, within a year, back to their old eating habits.
- Many people claim to celebrate diversity yet aren't troubled by the lack of the most important diversity: ideological diversity in society's mind molders: the schools, colleges, news media, and entertainment media. Such people believe that all wisdom resides left of center.
- Many people bristle against Israel being a Jewish state but don't mind that all its surrounding countries are Arab states. Those people are comfortable with that double-standard even though Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country that works to ensure equal rights for women, and has the world's highest per-capita literacy rate and percentage of medical patents. And those people feel that way despite the Palestinian government's charter calling for the destruction of Israel and being armed by Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, denies the Holocaust and wants to destroy Israel.
- Many people believe it's wise to redistribute education dollars from children with the greatest potential to cure cancer, invent the next Google, etc., (programs for the gifted have been eviscerated, especially in California) to those with the least: special education students.
More important, do those characteristics of the electorate call into question whether representative democracy remains the best form of government? After all, to wisely steward a country or even a city in our ever more complex world requires the best possible leaders. Can we really continue to believe that an electorate of which 71% believe in angels can withstand the Madison-Avenue-concocted campaign commercials (not to mention State-of-the-Union addressees) and elect the wisest leader? After all, that electorate typically chooses lawyers to lead us and even occasionally, actors (e.g,, Reagan, Schwarzeneggar) and comedians (e.g., Al Franken, Tom Ammiano.)
Would America not more wisely be led if its significant local, state, and federal leaders were selected by a blue-ribbon panel of respected for-profit, non-profit, government, and military leaders, small business owners, artists, scientists, philosophers, randomly selected citizens, plus the incumbent leader?