An Ill-Informed Electorate: Not Good For Democracy

Buried in this story was evidence of a theory I have about the level of American awareness on certain subjects – gasoline prices, crime, the economy, the deficit, etc. It’s more of a worry than a theory, which is that the complete detachment between perception and reality is going to be a big issue moving forward and very well may mean the end of our democracy.

The story was standard Trump rally stuff. He said some disturbing things, people cheered, his supporters have some crazy (and disturbing ideas), and it all has that uniquely American version of fascist crazy. Within it all, one Trumper’s thinking jumped out at me.

Ty Paye brought his wife, son, nephew and family friend for Saturday’s rally as well as a longing for a return to the Trump presidency.

 

“Gas was low. I wasn’t paying $5 a gallon,” the 58-year-old Clinton Township resident said about life under Trump. “Everybody had a job. Groceries, I had money in my pockets. I got to go places. And now I can’t really.

 

“President Trump says what he’s going to do and he does it. And he cares about the American people and not their pockets. The Democrats, all they care about are their pockets.”

He isn’t paying $5 a gallon – the average in Michigan is $4.03 for the state, $4.11 for Macomb County, where Clinton Township is located. “But what if he uses premium?” you may ask. In reply, AAA says that’s his problem.

There was no pushback, of course. Probably the safe bet for the reporter, given the tendency for these people to turn violent, and how people who believe delusions are fiercely protective of those delusions.

So, why does this guy believe that he paid $5 for gas? Some of it probably has to do with the steady drumbeat of many in the media who are seeking out the highest gas prices and posting them on Twitter.

Detachment from reality is not limited to gasoline prices, but also to the economy. Hyperfocus on inflation, which really is hurting a lot of Americans but really isn’t the entire story, has enabled a disconnect on even the best parts of our current economy.

The job market is booming, but just a small minority (28%) of Americans as per a recent poll are aware of this. A larger subset believed we LOST jobs (37%). Only 12% are aware that we gained more jobs last year than any year in history. In addition, 21% didn’t know enough to say.

On foreign policy, Americans are as misinformed. Digby’s Hullabaloo reviewed the results of a poll on the invasion of Ukraine and found a lot of Americans believe things that are either just not true, or impossible to know.

None of this, of course, is new. For example, prior to the uptick in crime, people believed that crime was getting worse back in 2016. It was not.

Some of this is due to many in the news media, who seem curiously hellbent on bringing down Biden. Some of it is the scourge that is social media, and some of it is people who are mostly tuning out and just hear things in passing, so negative headlines have a deeper impact on them than they should.

Not sure what the answer to all this will be. But Democrats need to figure it out and fast. Because as we’re seeing demonstrated so many times that it’s really pointless to list them here, Republicans want to damage democracy and they are feeling quite encouraged at the moment. The first big battle is now just seven months away.

The last word goes to MC 900 ft Jesus, with a tune called “Truth Is Out of Style” that was released in 1989. We’ve come a long way since – in the wrong direction.