While driving into D.C. last week, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh expound on an important issue that I don’t believe many pro-liberty people give much thought to. He said that “low-information” voters present a serious problem because there is no way to reach people who are uninformed. Worse, most of these people don’t like conservatives or libertarians.
No doubt about it, Rush has zeroed in on the crux of the problem when it comes to the decline and fall of the American Empire. How in the world do you reach people who not only are devoid of knowledge, but, in addition, don’t like the very people who have the information they so desperately need?
Worse, low-information voters are attracted to slogans, catchwords and fact-free propaganda – the more outrageous, the better. They are drawn to gobbledygook like “pay your fair share,” “social justice” and “shared prosperity” because such nonsense requires no thinking and thus is easily digested by the brain.
We’ve all seen the random street interviews with people who have no clue about the national debt, Benghazi-gate, Obamacare, or even the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These hollowheads know nothing about Barack Obama’s radical socialist past or that he has never been vetted by the media. They know only that he has a great smile, tells them he will make the rich pony up a still larger share of their ill-gotten gains and promises to give them evermore free stuff.
As a result, millions of these low-information voters are motivated enough at election time to go to polling stations and cast their votes – based not on any meaningful information about the budget deficit, the insolvency of Medicare and Social Security, or the state of the economy, but on their instant-gratification desires.
That said, low-information voters generally do have a lot of knowledge about college and professional sports, Lady Gaga and the latest top-grossing flicks. Likewise, they are adept at using mobile devices, surfing the Internet and playing video games. And they have all the angles figured when it comes to devoting two or three days to camping out in front of Best Buy or Wal-Mart in the hopes of saving a hundred bucks on the newest model of one of their favorite electronic toys.
Above all, low-information voters know their way around the giant welfare web the federal government has woven for them, and how to get the most out of it. These redistribution windfalls, along with wallets overflowing with plastic, give them the means to continue responding to those Sandals ads on TV even as the U.S. economy spins more rapidly out of control.
Moral code? Nonexistent. In fact, amorality is the key to getting what you want in today’s anything-goes America. Low-information voters give zero thought to the difference between liberty and tyranny, but give a lot of thought to which political candidates promise to give them more of everything.
So, why do so many Republican politicians and so-called conservative media pundits continue to talk optimistically about a resurgence of conservatism in future elections? Are they simply delusional? To a great extent, yes, but it’s also because they are not thinking in terms of a resurgence of liberty. They are merely talking about a resurgence of their particular brand of statism.
In other words, they’re on the same macro page as the socialists and communists in the Dirty Dem wing of the Demopublican Party. They agree with the far left that laissez-faire capitalism is an extreme philosophy, thus they view a reasonable compromise as something midway between welfare statism and totalitarian socialism.
Does anyone really believe that John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, or Jeb Bush (yes, he’s coming!) – to name but a handful of high-profile establishment Republicans – is fighting for a totally free market or something even close to individual liberty?
Ditto some of the best-known media pundits who are, appallingly, labeled arch-conservatives by both their peers and enemies – people like Bill Kristol, Ann Coulter, Ben Stein and Bill Bennett.
And why not? Even Fox News, which started out as an alternative to the radical left-wing media, has drifted increasingly to the left. Why do you think they were willing to part ways with Glenn Beck and his huge ratings? Or, just as shockingly, with Judge Andrew Napolitano, another libertarian, who, to the displeasure of Roger Ailes, used his show as a platform to preach anti-government gospel. Who’s next – John Stossel?
The hookup of power-hungry politicians and low-information voters is a marriage made in heaven. The politician’s goal is power, while the voter’s goal is enhancement of his material well-being. Both sides realize that by joining forces, each can provide what the other side wants.
As a result, a candidate’s chances of winning are directly tied to his ability to convince voters that he will, if elected, commit more aggression than his opponent. What this boils down to has been accurately described by James Dale Davidson, founder and former head of the National Taxpayers Union:
“You pool your life and property with those of other citizens and cast them into the electoral pot to be put at the disposal of politicians. Those who win the election promise to manipulate you to achieve the ‘common good.’ More often than not … the politicians are really promising to steal from you to reward special interests.”
Thoreau put it in metaphorical terms when he described elections as “a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it.”
That said, here’s your homework assignment for 2013: Figure out how to reach people who are devoid of knowledge, don’t like you and whose major objective is to transfer what’s in your wallet to theirs. Crack the low-information code and you can change the world.
Lots of luck – and do have a great New Year.