The Omaha City Weekly recently went to Sen. Ben Nelson’s town hall meeting and conducted an interesting experiment. They asked 40 attendees who were pro-healthcare reform, and 40 who were anti-reform to find Iraq on a map. While 75% of those who favor reform could locate Iraq, 52.2% of those who are anti could not.
Here is how the City Weekly described their quiz, “Presented a blank map of the Middle East and surrounding area – one with county names removed – those attending the town hall were asked to point out Iraq, a country where we have waged war for over six years. The idea was that those who consider themselves to be well informed on the state of America today should at least be able to identify a place where we have shed blood in a conflict that has lasted longer than our involvement in World War II.”
The results were not surprising, “A full 75%, 30 of 40 pro-reform attendees, could identify Iraq in its rather eye-catching, dead center position on the map. Only 52.5 %, 21 of 40 anti-reformers could do so.” What is more interesting is that the pro-reformers were more lighthearted and agreeable to taking the quiz. The anti-reform group sneered, glowered, and four people accused the quiz of being biased.
This quiz while completely unscientific does illustrate a large point about how well informed each side of this debate is. The anti-reform side, for the most part, has bought into the misinformation campaign of the GOP and right wing talk radio. The pro side tends to be more fact based. The antis are uninformed to the point where I am convinced that they do not know what they are protesting against.
When people show up at town halls and make statements like don’t let socialism take away my Social Security and Medicare, they are showing how misguided they are, but I am not calling this people dumb or stupid.
They have been misled by the places where they get their information. Their fear is being manipulated and exploited to maintain the status quo. Instead of being a shining example of democracy, they illustrate the power of fear.
(H/T: Think Progress)
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association