On yesterday’s (1/12/12) Your World, Fox Business Channel’s John Stossel added another bogus argument to the Republican War on Voting when he told host Neil Cavuto that “we shouldn’t have these get-out-the-vote campaigns” because “our intuition sets us astray in a modern economy” and “dumb” or uninformed people shouldn’t vote. That’s pretty funny coming from the channel whose viewers have been shown to be less informed about major news stories than the average American.“The people who participate [in voting] oughtta be the ones who pay attention” Stossel declared, ignoring that, according to a 2011 Farleigh Dickenson University poll, people who “pay attention” to Fox News proved to be less well informed than those who get their news elsewhere; in fact, according to an analyst for the polling group, "it can be argued that the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all." This comes on the heels of a 2010 study by the University of Maryland demonstrating that Fox News viewers, regardless of political information, were "significantly more likely" to believe false information about American politics.
Stossel has been banging the “stupid people shouldn’t vote” drum for years, as this 2008 video illustrates. Here he cites the book The Myth of the Rational Voter by Brian Caplan, which suggests that “democracies do less and let markets take up the slack” (yeah, we see where that has gotten us!) because voters are guided more by “popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases” than by facts. Wait a minute, don’t those comprise the very foundation on which Republican campaigning is based? Newt Gingrich certainly thought so when he authored a series of propaganda guides including Language: A Key Method of Control for the GOPAC in the early 1990’s.
There is no doubt that huge swathes of the American pubic are "low information voters", but what Stossel and Caplan are advocating is nothing less than government by an elite, selected by equally elite voters who would probably need a degree in economics to come up to scratch (hence Stossel’s seemingly odd remark about voters astray in a modern economy). And of course, the “right” economics would be libertarian free-market economics – the very economics promoted by the Roger Ailes Fear Factory which – well, whadddaya know! – promotes popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases in the service of the Republican party!
“If you’re not paying attention it’s your patriotic duty not to vote” says Stossel. If Stossel wants to do something truly patriotic about "dumb" voters perhaps he should start with the propaganda “news” organization he works for.