The Electorate is not Informed Enough for More Democracy

According to Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times the US Senate is sick. It is suffering from a lack of democracy. He cites polls that indicate 72% of likely voters want tax incentives for clean energy and 69% want programs to make electric vehicles more affordable. The House has passed legislation on these matters, but the undemocratic Senate is stopping them.

Mr. Bouie does a nice job of laying out the history related to debates during the writing and ratification of the Constitution related to the Senate. He understands that the Senate was designed to be a check on democracy and ensure the smaller states were not overpowered by the more populous states. He just believes that if a majority of the people want a piece of legislation, they should have it.

This got me thinking about why people like Mr. Bouie have such confidence in what the People want. Even if there was a referendum that said 72% want tax incentives for clean energy, is that an argument for it to be put in place? Not necessarily.

Only 56% of Americans can name the three branches of the Federal Government and 36% know the term lengths for representatives and senators. This 2021 Annenberg Public Policy Center survey is one of many indications of the ignorance of the American electorate.

In 2018 the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that only 1 in 3 Americans would pass the Citizenship Test. It is not just civics and history where we are lacking. 32% of the country is at or below level 1 in the PIAAC numeracy ranking. A person at level 1 one can do basic arithmetic only. They struggle with multi-step operations and calculations involving percentages and fractions.

We should be grateful for the anti-democratic components of our system of government. Those who argue for more democracy are merely unhappy with not getting their way.


Career consultant turned substitute teacher and writer. I enjoy the outdoors and poker.

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