Friday, July 15, 2011

How Ignorant Can Americans Be?

Rep. Michele and Dr. Marcus Bachmann

I love my country, but sometimes, I have to wonder just how ignorant many of my fellow citizens can be.  I thought this when George W. Bush was elected for a second time.  I thought this after the last midterm election, in which my state replaced all Democrats in state offices with Republicans and replaced my Democratic Congressman with a woman whose only platform was that she would personally would remove Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House (not that she alone would have the power to do so, but voters in my district apparently did not understand this).  And now, according to various new sources, the front runner of the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination is Michele Bachmann.  Really America?

True to her recent form, Rep. Michele Bachmann kicked off her presidential campaign with a highly-publicized gaffe: She said the wrong John Wayne was from her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. The iconic cowboy actor was not from Waterloo, but notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy did live there--likely not who the presidential hopeful wants to be compared with.

Her gaffes, however, aren’t confined to misidentifying the state where the Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred, or misidentifying John Quincy Adams as a Founding Father.  Those are just two examples.  She claimed that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States."  All of the Founding Fathers of this country had been long since dead when slavery was finally abolished.  One of her most recent controversies is her signing of the Marriage Vow, along with the ultra-homophobic Sen. Rick Santorum.   Part of that incredible document states:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
Fact-checking website has rated 23 of Bachmann’s statements since 2009 and found only one true, six half or barely true, and 16 false or “pants on fire.” 

But her popularity in Iowa and some national polls continues to grow, suggesting her base may not mind her historical misspeaking so much—at least not so far. And her admission on CNN Tuesday helped. “People can make mistakes, and I wish I could be perfect every time I say something, but I can’t,” Bachmann said. “One thing people know about me is that I’m a substantive, serious person.”  I tend not to consider someone as substantive when they make statements that an average fifth grader could dispute and correct.  Serious, she may be, but it is seriously ignorant.

Not only is she ignorant about basic knowledge of American civics and history, but she is also married to what I can best describe as a certifiable nutcase.  Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, turns out to not just think gays are “barbarians” who need to be disciplined and educated, but a clinical psychologist who runs two Christian-based therapy clinics in Minnesota that do a steady trade in homosexual conversion therapies. Marcus Bachmann’s clinics, which received more than $160,000 in tax dollars, try to set gays on the straight and narrow by getting them to see that God intends us all to be hetero. According to one former patient, who as an openly gay high-school student was forced to attend therapy sessions by his conservative-Christian stepfather, a therapist at Bachmann’s clinic tried to turn him straight by getting him to pray, read relevant (anti-sodomy) Biblical verses, and even tried to get him to date an “ex-lesbian.”

Since Bachmann declared her presidential candidacy, Dr. Marcus Bachmann—her gay-barbarian discipline-advocating therapist-husband—has been drawing heightened attention on his own. Some people, including famous-type ones, think maybe Bachmann's a gay barbarian as well.  Notable Bachmann sexuality commentators include:

  • Cher, who used her Twitter the other day to riff on Bachmann (as the gay news website Towleroad noticed).
  • Pundit Andrew Sullivan, who called Bachmann a "ssuper-sserial hunter of gays" and then compared him to Waiting for Guffman character Corky St. Clair.
  • The Daily Show co-creator and satirist Lizz Winstead, who tweeted that Bachmann is "the white Al Reynolds."
  • James Urbaniak of The Venture Brothers, who Tumbled: "It's pretty much a given that the most vociferously homophobic men are usually repressing something. But, oh Mary, Michele Bachmann's husband Marcus takes the ever-loving cake. He's a cure-the-gay therapist out of a John Waters movie. I haven't seen flames this high since the last California wildfire..."
  • Kids in the Hall comic and television actor Dave Foley, who asked via Twitter: "How can Michele Bachman be opposed to gay marriage when she is married to gay man." Foley made a few other tweets about Bachmann, using "#MarcusBachmanIsSoGay"; the hashtag got a bit of traction.
  • Keith Olbermann referred to Bachmann as a "bizarre-sounding man who's calling gays 'barbarians'" and wonders how you can "hide" him without putting him in some sort of closet.
Also, someone has created a @DrMarcusBachman Twitter feed. And at least one blogger believes Bachmann would make a "fine First Lady of the United States." Remember this post.

People started questioning Bachmann's sexuality well before his wife announced her presidential campaign. Back in September 2010, for example, Truth Wins Out—a nonprofit whose mission is to fight "anti-gay religious extremism"—posted on its website a YouTube of Bachmann with the comment, "Comment not necessary." That vid got people talking, but not at the level we're now seeing. Will his sexuality become a bigger issue as Mrs. B's campaign churns along? We'll see.

Why are so many Americans so politically ignorant?  Why can’t they see past her Tea Party rhetoric and realize that she is filled with pure ignorance?  One of the things that I teach my government students is how to research political candidates.  I have them download a voter’s guide and research each and every candidate on the ballot.  I have them do news searches of the candidates, so that they can see what the media is saying about a candidate, and I have them find the candidates websites, so that they can look at what the candidate says about his or her own political platform.  I, personally, do this for every election.  I want to be informed about the person I vote for.  I may most of the time end up voting for the Democratic Party candidates, but not all Democrats are progressive, especially in the South.  I, however, have never voted straight ticket without regard to the candidates.  I want to know what my candidate stands for, what he/she will do when in office, and how much I can trust what that candidate says.  They are politicians, so most of what they are saying is not true, but I at least want someone who will stand up for what is right, not what is politically convenient.  Americans need to wake up, quit listening to political spin doctors, and learn the truth about candidates.

 For further reading on the topic of Michele and Marcus Bachmann, click "read more" below.

Suggested and Further Reading:
  1. "All Kinds of People Weighing in on Marcus ‘Mr. Michele’ Bachmann’s Sexuality
  2. "Michele Bachmann's First Dude
  3. "Bachmann's Gaffes and Lies Mean She's Unfit for White House
  4. "For Michele Bachmann, a pattern of getting facts wrong"


Mack said...

Well, to answer your initial question: "Very!" Sometimes I wonder why I don't just move. Every time I'm in Europe or Canada, I keep wondering this even more.

The one consolation is that even if she did get the party nomination, I still have faith in our larger electorate for her to get spanked in the general election.

Thomas (Tom) Rimington said...

I actually hope she does win the nomination of her party... It will mean that Obama is guaranteed another term, or that my (undisclosed thus far) ultimate fantasy is to renounce my US citizenship and move to Canada as a political refugee.

Joe said...

Mack, I completely agree. I do think if she won the nomination, that Obama would be nearly guaranteed a second term, but we should never underestimate the ignorance of the American people.

Tom, either of those would be fine with me too. If I became a political refuge in Canada, I might actually have a chance at a teaching job up there, LOL.

Lonnie L said...

How ignorant can Americans be? So ignorant they voted for Obama, the biggest presidential failure ever. How ignorant can Americans be? They still insist on voting for the Democratic/Republican Party, no matter how many times they shit on us. How ignorant can Americans be? Millions of ignorant Americans will be voting for Obama in 2012 after he lied about ending the Iraq War, lied about closing Guantanamo Bay, after he oversaw the largest transfer of wealth in world history from US to the bankers who destroyed the global economy, after he allowed BP to spew oil into the Gulf for three months straight, and the list goes on and on.

People who call other Americans "ignorant" at the same time as they vote for Democrats are no better than the Tea Baggers. It's 2012, for fuck's sake. We can do better.

Joe said...

Lonnie, I agree with you. Obama has done absolute least he could do for GLBT people, and he campaigned say that he would do so much more. I believe the only reason he pushed for the repeal of DADT is because he needed more soldiers to fight these wars. He has lied to the GLBT community, and many will still vote for him for lack of a better choice. We need a true candidate to run, but no one has yet stepped up to the plate. Maybe they will. I did not vote for Obama, and I pray that there will be an alternative to him in November 2012.

As for me voting Democrat, I live in a state whose legislature has made it illegal for third party candidates to be on the ballot. We only have three choices: vote Republican, vote Democrat, or not vote. I for one, prefer to vote and think it is my duty to be as informed as possible it choose the best candidate. I wish I had more choices, but my states lawmakers have (in what I consider illegal) removed all but two choices. We can do better, and I have hope that better will come along.

Thanks for your comment, Lonnie.

fan of casey said...

Joe: People are lazy and don't do their homework when deciding who to vote for. Politicians pander for votes and tell people what they want to hear and many voters would just rather have someone confirm their already biased minds than do the hard intellectual work of being informed.

It is well known that seniors are a reliable voting bloc but they scare easily, they just repeat what they hear on the news channels and don't seek out alternative views. How else to explain that so many people still believe that Obama is muslim?

While I think Obama needs to be do a better job, I don't see anyone on the democratic side challenging him. While the pace of changes for LGBT issues has been mixed, at least we are moving forward. I can't see how voting for republicans will improve things for us. Unfortunately so many elections are about choosing the lesser of two evils.

It is crazy to me that both sides dig in their heels rather than compromise somewhere in the middle. Gridlock doesn't solve problems. It just churns which party is in the majority, only to get thrown out in the next election for failing to deliver.

And we have to admit, a lot of these problems are the making of voters -- they want benefits, entitlements, defense spending but don't want to pay for it. So many special interests just focus on their own self-serving needs without considering the greater good.

Uncutplus said...

The tea party has only one objective and that is to make the rich even richer! And so what if the middle class and the poor get poorer. Just too bad! The rich now have the lowest taxes in history, and many pay no taxes at all through loopholes. Now they have just enough members in Congress to hold their gridlock and stalemate. But after what is going on in Washington this week, I predict that they will be one term players, Obama will be re-elected and the Democrats will once again control both houses of Congress. Americans are tired of being held hostage by the tea party and are being educated right now why they need to vote changes in the Republican party.

Joe said...

I agree, FOC. None of the Democrats are going to challenge him, but I have long thought that we should have a moderate third party. It may not be the answer, but the Democrats and Republicans are both too polarized and they need someone to challenge them.

Uncutplus, the Tea Party is a horror for the American people, and I hope that they will wake up and see the problems these people are causing.

Anonymous said...

Calling people ignorant who have a different point of view is deeply silly.

Joe said...

Anon, I think that you are confusing ignorance with stupidity. Ignorance is about being uninformed, which I think is the problem. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I'm not calling people ignorant because they have a different opinion; however, what I am doing is saying that people should be well informed. I don't think that it is too much to ask.

Anonymous said...

Joe: You imply that 'being informed' equals agreeing with your point of view, otherwise you wouldn't call those people ignorant. You would have something less cliched and perhaps more perceptive to say. Flawed argument.

Joe said...

Anon, I am sorry that you feel that way. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I did not mean to imply that 'being informed' equals agreeing with your point of view. My point is simply that people should know what they are voting for not just voting for a political party. I admit it that I don't like Bachmann, I think that she herself should be better informed. Then again, I'm not crazy about most politicians, Democrat, Republican, or otherwise. Maybe I should have titled this post something different. I did not title it "Why Are Americans So Stupid?" because I do think it is about being uniformed, not really that they disagree with me. It's just my opinion anyway.