Vox Populi

This week we celebrated Constitution Day, by among other things, watching Congress authorize funding for a war that is not a war, and allowing it to be waged on the basis of a 2001 use-of-force resolution that authorized military actions against parties involved with the 9/11 attacks (conveniently, it did not have an expiration date).

Every year, it seems, there are poll results released on Constitution Day that suggest that the majority may not even know that a constitution exists (or if it does, what it might say). A survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that:

While little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, just as many (35 percent) could not name a single one.

With respect to the Congress—which, we are told repeatedly, is held in remarkably low esteem by the public:

Asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, 38 percent said they knew the Republicans are the majority, but 17 percent responded the Democrats, and 44 percent reported that they did not know (up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).

Asked which party controls the Senate, 38 percent correctly said the Democrats, 20 percent said the Republicans, and 42 percent said they did not know (also up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).

Given that just over one-third know who is in control of Congress, it is difficult to interpret another poll this week (CBS/NYT) that tells us that 70 percent disapprove of Republicans in Congress and 61 percent disapprove of Democrats in Congress.

All of this is a bit frustrating given the importance attributed to public opinion by the political class. Even if public opinion is poorly informed, it may still have a major impact.

Returning to the war that is not a war, the CBS/NYT poll also found that 57 percent of the population believes that President Obama is not tough enough on ISIS, and only 41 percent approves of his handling of terrorism.

Vox populi, Vox dei*


*Or to quote Alcuin of York in his entirety: “Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.

5 thoughts on “Vox Populi

  1. Praying will help less than voting. Hey, as long as we stay contently fat and glued to our televisions, phones, there will be a detached ruling class that acts with little consequence toward their own personage.

    However, I don’t believe knowing which political gang has the majority of members in Congress really matters. How our “representatives” vote on certain issues matters more, I think (nonetheless, what the heck do I know?). But, who has the time to research the issues they vote on? After work, I want to read the humanities, reinvigorate my Latin skills, have sex, inter alia. You know, attempt to answer questions like, “What is beauty?” and “What is the good life?” over coffee and cookies. I do not want to get to know in my freetime this nonsense about authorizing “the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to issue oleoresin capsicum spray to officers and employees of the Bureau of Prisons.” (http://v.gd/tdsdJt).

    We should work from the bigoted and dogmatic presumption that each and every politician is in it for their own gain, and those that rule in such a way cannot do anything but impede progress. From there, restablish the former glory of the Articles of Confederation wherein Congress must essentially lobby the people for monies and troops, and minimize the general acquiesence toward Federal reign. Will we then have less power influence around the world? Perhaps. And if so, so be it.

    Maybe my mind has rotted from poison. I’ve read Micahel Huemer’s “The Problem of Political Authority,” and I’m just not convinced the State as it exists today has much in way of legitimate authroity to order the affairs of my life. Nor, why letting them go about it anway benefits me (over the costs) in some way–even in the sense of Pareto optimality.

    Enough for wishful thinking. Have you heard about the new shiny Apple product coming out?

    I beg of you, explain to me, Dr. Eisner (and by association, collegues), exactly why I am cooky, misguided, and an at risk for acne, angst ridden punk without a clue. You’re the one who received his Ph.D. the year I was born.

    Sincerely, although not with much pabalum to feed on,

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