It was at that point that they helplessly looked to me for answers. As an educator, I am familiar with answering student questions, however, I usually push the questions back to them to reflect and ponder further for their own answers. This time though, they were not having any of it. They all demanded to know how I would change the current system! As you can guess, I suggested that they were empowered to step into the leadership void and take the reigns of political power and affect the changes America needs (and I believe, is beginning to demand). To my surprise, instead of embracing this sense of empowerment, they universally expressed overwhelming frustration. In the years I have been advising students, I have never witnessed this. I had to inquire. Why the frustration? Their answers are indicative of the real dangers facing our democracy.
Seems they too have been openly discussing their passion for new knowledge of the Constitution, government and the civil liberties created by it, and the roles political parties, interest groups and the media play in our society. And the general response from those they consider their friends? "Who cares?" Or "Uh uh, that's a lie, you don't know what you're talking about!" When I asked them if they try to explain why they are in fact correct and they do know what they are talking about? They all said yes, but so many of their friends are convinced they either already know what they need to know about our Constitution and government (which is almost entirely incorrect) or they say they don't care. They seem to fail to recognize that they "Don't know what they don't know." Instead of embracing new knowledge, they simply choose to reject it.
You can bet that I used the time to encourage them to "stay the course" and be the leaders our country so desperately needs, either it be within the existing political parties or future movements. It was clear to me that even the most enthusiastic students of political science are being worn down by a society so willingly ignorant that we may actually be heading for a cataclysmic failure of our Democratic-Republic. Just two nights ago on the radio, a caller by the name of "Peter" called in to complain that the Electoral College should be eliminated or altered because his right to vote had been "cancelled out" by voters living in "Urban Areas." When I pressed him further, he said "Big cities should not have the ability to decide who is elected president!" I know, it seems funny, but it is actually a dangerous sentiment. Peter went on to claim rural counties "should have equal say in elections with counties having larger populations." But isn't democracy all about "one man one vote?" Since the late 1880's, more Americans have lived in cities versus living in rural areas. So how in the world can Peter even think that large populations of Americans should have their votes minimized and equated with the few that live outside of cities? Since when does the minority have more power than the majority in a democracy? I thought we all learned in elementary school that someone wins an election when they get the most votes. How many other "Peters" believe democracy has been "hijacked" when elections are decided by the majority of voters? And this is seriously dangerous!
Secretary of State John Kerry recently pronounced in Berlin; "In America you have a right to be stupid — if you want to be. And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be. And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that's a virtue. I think that's something worth fighting for. The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view." But is it a virtue when stupidity encroaches all real understanding of our Constitution or our democracy? With a Supreme Court Justice claiming voting is an "Entitlement" and young members of the electorate voluntarily ignoring the political games being played in Washington, is it really in our collective interest for so many Americans relying on their right to "be stupid?"