Are We Too Dumb for Democracy?

In today’s polarized political world, the question, “Are We Too Dumb for Democracy?”, is on point.

The votes from our three experts on this subject are mixed.

Left to Right:  Joseph E. Kobylka, PhD., Jeffrey A. Engel, PhD., and Robert Howell, PhD

Joining host Dennis McCuistion to discuss the concerns with civic intelligence and the
“right “to vote are:

  • Jeffrey A. Engel. PhD: Director, Center for Presidential History, Southern Methodist University,
  • Joseph E. Kobylka, PhD: Southern Methodist University, Associate Professor of Political Studies and
  • Robert Howell, PhD: Dedman Family Distinguished Professor, Southern Methodist University.

Their comments provoke some thought. Our experts remind us that the framers of our Constitution did not form a democracy and they put in place a vigorous system of checks and balances.

Today it is a civic responsibility to vote; however, voting for a candidate based on whom you’d like to share a beer with is not a basis for an intelligent vote for a governing position. And too often, too many do not have the civic intelligence and awareness to make good decisions.

Concern was expressed over our civic ignorance. For instance, some Americans do not know there are three branches of government, and only one third of our citizens can name even one of them.

Many invest almost total power for decision making in our President. Two thirds of our citizens believe if Roe vs Wade is overturned abortion is automatically illegal, 40% of citizens believe English is our official language and Christianity our U.S. religion. Our economic beliefs are predominately inaccurate, and the list goes on.

Our experts ask: On what basis can one make a qualified voting decision if you don’t have the right information to accurately evaluate a candidate’s ability to govern? Public schools are not teaching civics. Social media offers lots of choice yet may also reinforce existing biases. You can Google down any rabbit hole and find sources to back up your preconceptions.

The evolution of how we come to decisions has changed. We no longer have a common narrative, because there are so many sources of information. Fake news hurts. Political correctness hurts. And we may have made civic engagement into entertainment.

Our guests agree, “democracy” may not always be a good thing, but it is the only game in town. We need good information to make good decisions. Educating ourselves on our choices is critical. Civic ignorance can be dangerous to our continued freedom as citizens.

Tune in as we talk about things that matter… with people who care. And please don’t forget that for the last 27 years it is you, our viewer, who keeps us on the air.

The McCuistion Program, a 501 ( C ) ( 3 ) tax exempt organization does not receive any KERA pledge dollars, PBS funds or government grants, so thank you for your continued support.

Thanks for joining us,

Niki McCuistion
Co-Founder, Executive Producer, Producer
Business Consultant / Executive Coach, specializing in Organizational Culture Change, Governance and Strategic Planning


2325 – 04.09.17


2 Responses to “Are We Too Dumb for Democracy?”
  1. David Ayres says:

    My wife and I have faithfully watched McQuistion for over 15 years. We have found it interesting, informative, and usually satisfying. This topic of Are We Too Dumb For Democracy was a shocker. Professor Engel gave away the store when he declared himself and his colleagues as ” Cultural Elites.” His comment that the educational system has been insufficiently attentive to Cultural issues is dead wrong! What they have been insufficiently attentive to are the traditional fundamental aspects of our Constitution, and Civics. Those are the basic elements of our society that all informed citizens should learn, understand, and apply to our everyday lives, not just at election times. The educational system has been dumbed down with regard to the proper workings of our government and replaced with pap. I grew up in Boston, MA and learned to study the Federalist Papers, the structure and workings of the three branches of government, and the responsibility of every citizen to be an informed voter.

  2. Hi,

    The “Founders” neither created a “democracy” or a “republic”. And, that is a show within itself. But simply put: BOTH a Democracy and/or a Republic will ALWAYS fail because of the corruption that is inherent within these ideologies. The problem is “AMERICANS” are the best BS detectors in the world, because of the Declaration of Independence (DOI). This document put forth that we are ALL created (FREE and INDEPENDENT PEOPLE) equal with RIGHTS given to us by GOD and/or unalienably by existence, that NO – one, group, government, and/or nation shall infringe on or deny those rights, but can only support and protect the pursuit of those rights, of us ALL equally. The Constitution has been perverted by interpretation and implementation of “LAWS” bent on eliminating those RIGHTS contained within the DOI, by the “two party system” Republicans and Democrats! So WE end up with in all actuality a “LESSER of the TWO EVILS” vote. Now, this is where the WE (the actual majority of people) have now “TUNED” out, because (1) we only have two crappy choices (unless you agree with their ideologies), (2) even if we do vote they still don’t represent an “ACTUAL” majority, because most people don’t vote, they just figure a way around whatever DUMB legislation these people come up with, (3) or because R/Ds have now created such a obstruction of the ballot that we are only left with two crappy choices, (4) or because R/Ds commit voter fraud (D) or voter suppression (R) to the point it effects voter turnout, so the elections are “RIGGED” so only a select minority are voting and the vast majority do not vote because “what is the point”. So the problem becomes “why vote” if the people that get in there are NOT going to make laws respective of ALL beliefs, or that are fair to ALL beliefs. So the true question becomes are ANY of the people we CHOOSE to SERVE US worthy of being voted for, when NONE of them understand or abide by the DOI, COTUS, BOR, and A! We are not to DUMB for Democracy or a Republic, they are to DUMB for us to vote for! Voting is a RIGHT, to vote…..or NOT to vote! If you only have two “CRAPPY’ choices, I vote for NEITHER of the TWO! Because they do NOT represent me, CANNOT represent me, and WILL NOT represent me, because they are to DUMB to SERVE ME and EVERYONE else equally! AND, now since I (WE) have NO REPRESENTATION we are not bound to ANY of the crap they come up with! That is how the MASS MAJORITY (98%) feel, once you give them the CHOICE! So once you look at the issue WE are not to DUMB for a Democracy or a Republic, WE just don’t buy it, because WE know they will BOTH FAIL to build a MORE PERFECT UNION!

    When FREE, OPEN, and EQUAL ACCESS to the BALLOT, MEDIA, and VOTE are resolved then WE will vote to our hearts content as FREE and INDEPENDENT PEOPLE! Knowing that no matter whoever we vote or no matter how long they are there, they WILL ONLY make legislation to SERVES US (ALL EQUALLY) and PROTECTS US when necessary according to the four guidelines of the AMERICAN IDEAL, contained within the DOI, COTUS, BOR, and A!

    1. You can BELIEVE whatever you want.
    2. You can EXPRESS that belief.
    3. You can PRACTICE that belief for yourself.
    4. BUT, you CANNOT IMPOSE your beliefs upon others and vice versa!

    Sincerely and Respectfully,
    Terry W. Wheelock

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