Apathy or ignorance?

Published 11:03 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I was watching a popular quiz show the other day, and a question came up about which political party has never had a presidential candidate in office. The selections were Federalist, Democrat-Republican, Whig or Libertarian.

This question seemed really easy to me, but the contestant had to phone a friend to help them answer the question. The person the contestant called wasn’t sure about the answer, but the friend eventually said Libertarian. The contestant listened to their advice and answered Libertarian even though the contestant was nervous about it.

During that, I was thinking to myself, “You idiot. Of course it’s Libertarian.” Of course, the contestant got the question right, but I think that shows just how much that people just don’t learn about government and civics like they used to. A question like that was a “gimme” on a quiz show at one time, but now, many of us don’t know the answer to those kinds of questions.

I don’t know whether it’s because we have an apathetic attitude toward politics or if our educational system doesn’t put as much emphasis on teaching government. All I know is that people either don’t care or are just ignorant of the way politics work.

The best example of this is to turn on late night TV talk shows. One in particular just goes out in town and talks to people on the street. They ask questions like “Who is this?” while showing a picture of President Bush. The person doesn’t know and says “Is this person famous?” or something along those lines.

Now I know that when they do these bits, they usually look for someone that won’t answer the questions right. They pick them very carefully. I have to admit that it is a funny bit, but it is also sad. For every person like that, there are thousands of others who are clueless about government.

I admit I am not the most well informed person out there. Actually, I can’t stand to watch cable news because the talking heads are giving you their spin instead of reporting the news.

However, it is important for all of us to have a general understanding of civics and government. At some point, you will be directly affected by it, and you will need to know what is going on.