How did that happen? Better yet - why?
While I will try to keep the cynical snark to a minimum, it's important to remember a salient point - most Americans aren't that smart. Stimulus in the form of rewards of food or whacks on the head seems to be what we respond to best. Just look at California and Prop 8, the "Yes on No Gay Marriage Act." People voted for it because there were ads saying Barack Obama's for it. Which, given his stated opposition to the concept of gay marriage comes as no surprise; however, he might not have been for this particular initiative, simply because the Supreme Court of the State of California had ruled in favor of gay marriage, and Obama's big into Constitutional law. All of that aside, people were voting for this initiative because they saw ads saying someone they thought was cool was for it, too. They thought "Yes on 8" meant yes on gay marriage, when, in fact, it meant precisely the opposite.
"Yes" is such a positive word, though, isn't it? "Yes," good. "No," bad.
Except when it isn't. Or they aren't. Or something.
In other, shorter words: READ THE FINE PRINT, YOU F%&*ING IDIOTS!
But that's the whole problem, isn't it? We like our politicians to give us sound bites we can believe in. We want to put our country first, but first we have to figure out where they put our country. We're undereducated, overworked, and desperate for good news (or at least less bad news), but a good slogan fills the gaps nicely. "Work makes you free," and all that.
Someone who tracks such things measured the minimum required educational level of the Presidential debates through the years. They apparently started with Lincoln-Douglas (11th-12th grade), moved on to Kennedy-Nixon (11th-10th), Bush-Gore (6th-7th), and Obama-McCain (6th-5th). We are Devo.
Isn't this the fundamental problem? We don't read, we have the attention spans of fruit flies, and we find people who are smarter than us to be "nerdy," "wonky," or "elitist." I keep arguing this point, and maybe the American public finally caught on, too, but shouldn't the guy running the country be smarter than everyone else? Sarah Vowell described the Bush-Gore debate as being between the dumb jock and the snorting nerd. Yet we voted for the dumb jock. Twice.
(and yes, I know there are still issues with whether Shrub actually won, but that's a different column or two)
So one thing I hope to see is a better educational system in this country. Educate the people for free up through college, put money into early childhood education (most specifically, make early childhood something you have to have a degree to teach), and really make us the best-educated populace on the face of the earth.
Be more erudite. Or we'll be the country India outsources their cheap car parts from.