By “stupid,” I mean not informed and/or intelligent enough to make reasoned political decisions.
Why do you feel this way? Anecdotal interaction? Polls and evidence?
Also, is it a false premise that reasoned voting requires a basic level of competency in domestic and foreign issues? Is it the case that the collective will of an underinformed nation will be equivalent to the will of one super-informed expert?
For my part, I sometimes feel this way. I try to convince myself that I’m must being partisan, or elitist, and that most people are like me in thinking that everyone else isn’t smart enough (meaning we’re all plenty smart). But I get the feeling a lot of people on both political sides do think most Americans are stupid (judging by the way these people speak and act).
[If possible, I’d like to keep this out of the Pit, though I expect it to quickly become partisan]
I’m American, and I think *people * are stupid and American often willfully misinformed. We have too much of an attitude of “We’re right, because we have DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM and those slave-driver overseas don’t know nothin’!” We just need to get our heads out of the sands.
So what? What does that have to do with the intelligence of most Americans?
By any objective measurement, Americans as a country are at least as educated and intelligent as any other country. That may not be saying much as people in general can be stupid, immature and self-centered.
We did not get to be the greatest country in the world by being a population of imbecilles.
If you wonder about the Founding Fathers not giving women the vote, just remember that the political experiment on which they were embarking (a republic on a scale larger than a city-state) was a radical enough one for its time, and that, up to then, there had never been a republic known to history where women could vote. (With the arguable exception of the Iroquois League – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroquois] – where only men could be chiefs, but chiefs were elected by councils of women.)
Everyone thinks they’re smart and well-informed about the issues which interest them.
I remember during the 2000 election, Hubby took a poll of his college students. They all had firm, strident opinions about “the issues”, but when Hubby started asking in-depth questions about them, only a few could answer. Most were seemingly just aping what their friends/boss/family/ preacher said, or third-hand reports of what was said on the news. But every one of them thought they knew what they were talking about.
Most people like to think that they’re smart, but there’s a seething undercurrent of anti-intellectualism in Americans. People intentionally keep themselves from being informed-- in this age of information, you have to willfully shut your eyes to it.
People don’t like complicated issues-- if there’s a sudden awareness of a problem, they want someone to blame, and legislation which promises to fix it, without all that boring mumbo-jumbo about ramifications.
People also don’t like being told that they’re wrong, especially if they’re thinking emotionally about an issue. “I just *feel * that _________ is wrong.” How can their gut feelings be incorrect? An instinctual raction must be natural, right?
And frankly, we’re just too fat and happy to care. Americans have great lives. We’re incredibly wealthy-- even our poorest people won’t starve to death, and those below the poverty line likely still have air-conditioning and cable. Issues don’t touch us, for most of us are not directly affected by Washington’s decisions. (I haven’t been inconvenienced by the Patriot Act.) Concepts such as lost rights which most don’t even notice are gone seem ephemeral and unimportant when you have pressing day-to-day concerns.
You seem to be equating “republic” with “democracy”. Yes, it was a great political experiment, partly because of the large geographical extent of the 13 colonies. But a country where more than half of the adult population cannot participate in the government hardly seems a democracy. So South Africa under apartheid was not a democracy, while Britain today, while still a monarchy, is a democracy, because all the adult population can participate in politics and the monarch only has a formal role.
Becoming a democracy can be a gradual process. In Britain, it took several steps, including the reform acts of the 19th century and women’s suffrage in the early 20th century. In the US, it took several steps too, including freeing the slaves in the 1860s, women’s sufrage in 1920, and the civil rights acts of the 1960s.
(Note that I’m not responding to the OP, which I think essentially meaningless – just AFAIKnow’s response.)