The Apathy, Ignorance, and Selfishness of the American Voter

Error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. -- Thomas Jefferson
As long as man's beliefs, or any part of them, are based on error, he is not completely free, for the chains of error bind his mind. -- Bruce R. McConkie
You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. -- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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The following is from the columnist, "Ask Marilyn" (Marilyn vos Savant):

Q - "I love the joke about a pollster who asks: 'Which is the greater problem facing Americans today: Ignorance or apathy?' A man replies, "I don't know, and I don't care." What would be your reply?
A - "Twenty years ago, I'd have said the greater problem was apathy. Now I believe it is ignorance. Plenty of people care, care wildly, and even care irrationally. But, in this new information age, Americans are so snowed with misinformation and disinformation, many simply don't know what to believe anymore. Even worse, some think they know what to believe, but they're wrong."

Regarding ignorance, here's an unsettling quote: "Americans are choosing to get less and less news from traditional network TV. A poll in Brill's Content says 13 percent of Americans rely on David Letterman or Jay Leno to keep them informed. And a poll by the Pew Research Center reveals 16 percent regularly get news about political candidates from comedy shows like 'Saturday Night Live.'" -- Gregory M. Lamb (Christian Science Monitor)

How else do you think we got the MTV president (boxers or shorts)? Twice! Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.

I think apathy is worse because it is the root of ignorance. Or is it the other way around? Hmmm. Both ignorance or apathy are deadly ills in our society, but I've got third suggestion: selfishness.

It is my observation that tyrannical and corrupt governments usually are built on the shoulders of good people who do nothing to stop the situation. But why do good people fail to stand up against evils such as Hitler, Stalin, Nero, Saddam Hussein, and a few politicians we can name in our own country? Apathy and ignorance are indeed huge factors, and I think they are interrelated -- one cannot exist without the other. But I think the real reason these people stay in power is because otherwise good citizens want the products of the other guy's labors.

To solve the problem of ignorance and apathy, I have long felt that we need to administer a test before allowing anyone to vote. The questions need not be difficult. Possible questions could be:
"Who pays for government programs?"
"Who makes the laws in your city?"
"How do you fill out a valid election ballot in your jurisdiction?"

Such a test should weed out a lot of apathetic and ignorant voters. Unfortunately, "social progressives" have determined that a test is discriminatory and therefore illegal. (Is discrimination really bad? The word simply means the making of a choice -- and we need to chose between those who are capable of posting a wise ballot.)

"Science may have found a cure for most evils; but is has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings." -- Helen Keller

But such a test won't do a thing about the selfish voter -- the guy who wants to get something for nothing.

During the founding of the US, Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scottish historian/professor reportedly said this on the fall of the Athenian republic:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage."

It is important to remember that we have a republic -- not a democracy. In a democracy, citizens make all government decisions directly. In a republic, citizens elect representatives who subsequently make decisions on behalf of the people. In our republic, we do have some elements of democracy -- but not at the national level. For example, most (maybe all) local and state governments have a referendum process where citizens can make their own laws. Very often, these referendums turn out to be foolish (even unconstitutional) because they are frequently initiated by a citizen with a selfish motive and is able to convince a majority of citizens (who themselves are either apathetic, ignorant, or selfish) to vote for the issue and ultimately fulfill Professor Tyler's observation. "If fifty-million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." (Anatole France)

Theoretically, a representative (republican) process bypasses the ignorance, apathy and selfishness of citizens. Representatives are given the task of becoming informed on issues and, considering constituent opinion, making wise decisions in our behalf. Unfortunately, politicians know how to play to the apathetic, ignorant and selfish voter and Professor Tyler's weaknesses of democracy find their way into a republic. As long as the apathetic, ignorant and selfish select our leaders, our republic will suffer the same ails that Professor Tyler sees in a democracy.

One of the things that many people are ignorant of, now, but think that they know, is our method of choosing a president -- the electoral college.

One of the reasons we have the Electoral College was because our founders felt that the average citizen isn't smart enough (too ignorant and apathetic) to make such an important decision directly. The 2000 presidential election snafu in Florida (FloriDUH) clearly illustrates the founders wisdom and the need for informed people to be a part of the process. Hence, the Electoral College is a vital part of our republican form of government. To allow a democratic (or popular) vote for national leadership only increases the likelihood that Professor Tyler's prediction will come true for us.

Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are just two of the greatest icons of the government giveaways Professor Tyler warned us about. I heard Hillary's senatorial campaign victory speech where she called for the demise of the Electoral College. The mere fact that SHE wants the end of the Electoral College is enough to tell me how desperately need to keep it.

The difference between a republic and a democracy is the difference between liberty for everyone or tyranny of the often ignorant, apathetic and selfish majority.

Always remember that our form of government is a republic -- not a democracy. Our Electoral College system for electing presidents is an essential part of our republic. It helps to protect our Constitution and our freedoms from idiots.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -- John Bartlett

"We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens of this republic we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators." -- Ezra Taft Benson (Ensign, November 1987, page 102)

Quotes on Voting

Elections aren't about issues. Elections are sporting events. We gravitate to elections for the same reason we watch sports or movies. We like the competition. We like the drama. We like to keep score. We liked to see "good guys" pitted against "bad guys." It's all about the drama. It isn't about philosophy. -- Jim Babka & Perry Willis,

If a person is utterly ignorant about matters of public policy, then he or she has a solemn obligation to refrain from voting. The percentage of people who fall into the utterly ignorant category is estimated to be about 25 percent of eligible voters. -- Mona Charen

I wouldn't call it fascism exactly, but a political system nominally controlled by an irresponsible, dumbed down electorate who are manipulated by dishonest, cynical, controlled mass media that dispense the propaganda of a corrupt political establishment can hardly be described as democracy either. -- Edward Zehr

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. -- Sir Winston Churchill

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. -- John F. Kennedy, speech at Vanderbilt University, 18 May 1963

While many people are urging us to vote -- regardless of for whom, for what, or for what reason -- there are very few urging us to do what is far more important: Stop and think! Voting is not a matter of personal expression but a serious responsibility for choosing what course this country will take in the years -- and decades -- ahead. --Thomas Sowell

Andy Rooney on Voting

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Election 2000: Bush vs Gore

2000 Election Statistics

Red vs blue counties in 2000


Counties voting for Gore (blue) vs Bush (red). Residents of blue counties tend to be the largest users of government services. Typically small in area but large in population. It illustrates the conflict between those in the heartland of America that are producing and those that are taking.

Looking at these colors helps one to understand the wisdom of our forefathers in creating the Electoral College system. The difference in the vote count in just New York City might have elected Al Gore, in a popular vote only system.

"How did the 2004 election map of the United States come to look like a color-field painting by Barnett Newman? In fact, if you adjust the map's colors for votes by county, even the blue states turn mostly red. Pennsylvania is blue, but between blue Philadelphia and Pittsburgh every county in the state is red. California, except for the coastline, is almost entirely red." -- Daniel Henninger,, 5 Nov 2004

Some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:
Population of counties won by: Gore: 127 million; Bush: 143 million;
Square miles of land won by: Gore: 580,000; Bush: 2,427,000
States won by: Gore: 20 Bush: 30
Murder rate in counties won by: Gore: 6.5; Bush: 4.1
In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the tax-paying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off government welfare..." --

Gore vs Bush 2000

Source: AP 12/22/2000

National Popular Vote for Gore: 50,996,116 National Popular Vote for Bush: 50,456,169
Electoral Votes for Gore: 266 Electoral Votes for Bush: 271

Gore vs Bush 2000

Source: USA Today,

Counties won by Gore: 677 Counties won by Bush: 2436
Population of counties won by Gore: 127,000,000 Population of counties won by Bush: 143,000,000
Square miles of counties won by Gore:


Square miles of counties won by Bush: 2,427,000
States won by Gore: 20 States won by Bush: 30

Looking at these numbers helps one to understand the wisdom of our forefathers in creating the Electoral College system. The difference in the vote count in just New York City might have elected Al Gore, in a popular vote only system.

Vote in 2000 by Church Attendance

Source: National Survey of Religion and Politics, University of Akron

Attendance Frequency Gore Voters Bush Voters
More than once a week 32% 68%
Once a week 42% 58%
Once or twice a month 59% 41%
A few times a year


Seldom 61% 39%
Never 65% 35%

Right-To-Carry States.
It's interesting to compare maps on this page showing election outcome in each state vs states with right-to-carry-concealed-firearms laws (representative of individual rights) vs crime rates.

Murders per 100,000 residents in counties won by Gore in 2000:


Murders per 100,000 residents in counties won by Bush in 2000:


Source: Unknown

What has happened to the Democratic Party over the past 40 years that it has made its constituencies to be crime and dependence? How do the liberals feel about the fact that their constituency is that portion of the country that harbors and perpetuates poverty and crime?

Back to Top

Election 2004: Bush vs Kerry

2004 Election Statistics

As reported in the news, exit polls indicate that values is an important consideration in selecting public officials. The left (including the media) attribute this phenomenon to the evangelical right. They seem to assume that only the the religious right have values! They're wrong! I have always considered myself a moderate and in the past, voted for candidates of both parties. The shift of both major parties to the left over the past 40 years has placed the Democrats so far left that I can no longer vote for any of them or support any of their issues. The only "values" remaining in the Democratic Party seem to be power and control. The Democratic Party no longer selects candidates based on their values. Instead, Democratic candidates are chosen only for their ability to win elections -- to control. Sadly, even the Republican party is left of where Truman's Democratic Party was. As usual, liberal Democrats and the media don't understand what has happened.

Red vs blue counties in 2004


Counties voting for Kerry (blue) vs Bush (red). Residents of blue counties tend to be the largest users of government services. Typically small in area but large in population. It illustrates the conflict between those in the heartland of America that are producing and those that are taking.

Looking at these colors helps one to understand the wisdom of our forefathers in creating the Electoral College system.

"How did the 2004 election map of the United States come to look like a color-field painting by Barnett Newman? In fact, if you adjust the map's colors for votes by county, even the blue states turn mostly red. Pennsylvania is blue, but between blue Philadelphia and Pittsburgh every county in the state is red. California, except for the coastline, is almost entirely red." -- Daniel Henninger,, 5 Nov 2004

"The leftist media elite claim we [Christian voters] are selfish. Yet, as Feder points out, the 10 states which gave the highest amount of money to charity all went for Bush and the 10 states with the lowest amount of giving for charity all went for Kerry. You see, we are generous with our own money. The reason they claim we are selfish is because they value tax dollars over genuine charity." -- Paul M. Weyrich (Vilified Values Voters, 16 Nov 2004)

"The Left sure knows how to recover from an electoral defeat: slander the electorate. For some strange reason, liberal activists believe that after 60 million Americans pulled the lever for George W. Bush, the best strategy to win back power is to call those voters stupid." -- Ben Shapiro

"[T]housands of people were suppressed in the effort to vote. Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic [sic] districts, it took people four, five, eleven hours to vote, while Republicans [went] through in 10 minutes -- same voting machines, same process, our America." -- John Kerry, unwittingly acknowledging that the problems were in Democrat-controlled precincts

"'Disenfranchisement' actually means being denied the vote, but Democrats of late have started using it as a dysphemism for 'losing'." -- James Taranto

"I came here as a slave. I now want the right to vote." -- Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Jan 2005 (Wow! She must be really old!)

"The Democrats have the blues. Their guy lost the White House. Their candidates lost campaigns for the U.S. House and Senate. The map of the United States looks like someone spilled a full can of red paint upon it; the few blue states now include the State of Denial." -- Rich Galen

"I know a lot of you believe that most people in the news business are liberal. Let me tell you, I know a lot of them, and they were almost evenly divided this time. Half of them liked Senator Kerry; the other half hated President Bush." -- CBS's Andy Rooney

"God may not be a Republican but he heard the fervent prayers of millions of values voters to keep His hand on America one more time despite our national sins of denying the right to life, despite ignoring the Biblical injunction against acts which are 'an abomination unto the Lord' and despite the blatant attempt to remove God from the public square. God gave this President and this President's Party one more chance. Will the President understand why he is still in office? Will Senators comprehend why the Republicans increased their majority? Will the Congress realize why the first sitting Senate leader was deposed since 1952? We shall see." -- Paul Weyrich

"If indeed all those blue states all got together and seceded from the union, think what would be left for those red states -- nothing. There would be no educational system. You would have nothing. What would be left to you? I mean, where is all of this talent in this country? It's on both sides, the Northeast corridor." -- Long-lost "actress" Geraldine Ferraro

"Since most of our military comes from red states, who do the blues imagine will defend them? The French? The Aspen Institute? An elite force of yoga instructors? Liberals have concocted a fantasy version of America, where all of the nation's brain-power and productivity reside in the blue states, while red America is a land of trailer parks, country-music bars, tractor-pulls and Klan rallies. (Quick, someone tell the Texans with their oil reserves, cattle and industrial output that they're a virtual wasteland.) ...Red state residents are portrayed as slack-jawed knuckle-draggers, ignorant, superstitious yokels inflamed by wily politicians and pernicious preachers." -- Don Feder

"Liberals are talking about the Blue States seceding from the Union. There's a map on the Internet of the Blue States joining Canada. ... Secession, if followed by invasion, conquest, occupation and, ultimately, cultural cleansing, is a terrible thing. Trust me, Southerners know about this. We need to help these Liberal hotheads cool down. ... [A]re the root causes worthy of sundering the Great Experiment -- Democracy in America? Apparently, the two most important reasons for secession are partial-birth abortion and homosexual marriage. The Liberals are kidding, right? They can't live in a society that bans infanticide -- as every state did before the U.S. Supreme Court made up law, science and medicine in 1973. And, Liberals can't survive where homosexuals can't marry -- as they never have, ever, from the tiniest tribe to the greatest (and most decadent) civilizations -- until last year in the Netherlands? Ok, maybe we can't make an argument against the sanctity of life and marriage just to keep the Liberals from leaving." -- James Atticus Bowden

"I don't feel like a member of society any more, I'm completely detached from the rest of the country. If it wasn't for my new job and my girlfriend, I'd leave right now. I had made plans, even talked to a Canadian friend about possibly marrying to get citizenship. Can California, the rest of the West Coast and New York secede?" --Chris Jackson, music director for E! Entertainment Network to the London Telegraph

"If you don't like living in a divided country, all you have to do is get yourself appointed to the university faculty somewhere and you will be able to experience the joys of living in a one-party state." -- James Taranto

"America isn't divided by political ethos or ethnic origin. America isn't divided by region or religion. America is divided by jerks. Who wants to bring a bunch of jerks together with the rest of us? Let them stew in Berkeley, Boston, and Ann Arbor....We are all sinners. But jerks revel in their sins. You can tell by their reaction to the Ten Commandments. Post those Ten Commandments in a courthouse or a statehouse, in a public school or a public park, and the jerks go crazy. Why is that? ....[J]erks take issue with every one of the Ten Commandments. Jerks are particularly offended by the first two Commandments....[W]e don't all agree about the meaning of 'Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.' However, we do all agree about 'Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them' when them is Freud, Marx, and Dan Rather....'Thou shalt not commit adultery.' The jerks have begun praising marriage lately. But only if the bride and groom each have a beard....'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.' Especially not in return for vast wealth, abundant prizes, and lavish praise from fellow jerks. I'm talking to you, Michael Moore....[T]hink how important the Tenth Commandment is to a community, to a nation, indeed to a presidential election. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't be a jerk and whine about what the people across the street have -- go get your own." -- PJ O'Rourke, "An Alternative Inaugural Speech"

"Pollsters are finding that one of the best ways to discover whether a voter holds liberal or conservative value stands is to ask: How often do you go to church? Those who go often tend to be Republican, those who go rarely ot not at all tend to be Democratic." -- Thomas Edsall, Washington Post

"In this election, 61% of Bush's vote came from people of all faiths who attend services weekly (a group comprising 41% of the electorate); conversely, 62% of Kerry's vote came from people who never attend worship (accounting for 14% of the electorate)." -- The Wallbuilder Report, Winter 2005

[T]he two [California] counties with the lowest 'mental health scores' are Alameda, which includes Berkeley, and San Francisco, which is coterminous with the city. What else do these counties have in common? They are the California counties where John Kerry did best: 83% of the vote in San Francisco and 75% in Alameda. You don't have to be crazy to oppose President Bush, but it doesn't hurt. -- James Taranto

"By the time the sun set Thursday and the TV screens went black, Democrats showed they learned nothing from the last election....With their shrill badgering of Gonzales and the pandering challenge to Bush's Electoral College win, they inadvertently proved the wisdom of voters in giving the GOP control of Congress and the White House." -- Michael Goodwin, Jan 2005

"Democrats may be in the minority in Congress, but we speak for the majority of Americans." -- Ted Kennedy, D-Chappaquiddick, Jan 2005 (Huh?)

Kerry vs Bush 2004

Source: USA Today

Electoral votes won by Kerry: 252 Electoral votes won by Bush: 286
Counties won by Kerry: TBA Counties won by Bush: TBA
Population of counties won by Kerry: 130,900,000 Population of counties won by Bush: 159,200,000
Square miles of counties won by Kerry:


Square miles of counties won by Bush: 2,540,000
States won by Kerry: 19 States won by Bush: 31

Looking at these numbers helps one to understand the wisdom of our forefathers in creating the Electoral College system. The difference in the vote count in just New York City might have elected Al Gore, in a popular vote only system.

Vote in 2004 by Church Attendance


Attendance Frequency % of Voters Kerry Voters Bush Voters
More than once a week 16% 35% 64%
Once a week 26% 41% 58%
Once a month 14% 49% 50%
A few times a year 28%


Never 15% 62% 36%

Political contibution map
Considering political contributions as a proxy for support for Kerry (blue) vs Bush (red), this map shows which party dominates each county of the country. The darker the color, the more of a landslide for the winning party.

Political contibution map
Considering political contributions as a proxy for support for Kerry (blue) vs Bush (red), this map shows which party dominates each state. The darker the color, the more of a landslide for the winning party.

Election 2004: A Moral Mandate?

Back to Top

Election 2008: Obama vs McCain


Vote in 2008 by Church Attendance


Attendance Frequency % of Voters Obama Voters McCain Voters
Total vote 100% 52% 46%
More than once a week 12% 43% 55%
Once a week 27% 43% 55%
Once a month 15% 53% 46%
A few times a year 28%


Never 16% 67% 30%
No religion 11% 75% 23%


Counties voting for Obama (blue) vs McCain (red). Residents of blue counties tend to be the largest users of government services. Typically small in area but large in population. It illustrates the conflict between those in the heartland of America that are producing and those that are taking.

Zogby America National Poll of Barack Obama Voters 11/13/08 thru 11/15/08

512 Obama Voters 11/13/08-11/15/08 MOE +/- 4.4 points

97.1% High School Graduate or higher, 55% College Graduates

Results to 12 simple Multiple Choice Questions:

  • 57.4% could NOT correctly say which party controls congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)
  • 71.8% could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)
  • 82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)
  • 88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)
  • 56.1% could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).

And yet.....

  • Only 13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes
  • Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter
  • And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her "house," even though that was Tina Fey who said that!
  • Only 2.4% got at least 11 correct.
  • Only .5% got all of them correct. (And we "gave" one answer that was technically not Palin, but actually Tina Fey)

Back to Top

From Whence Comes the Vast Divide Between Democrats and Republicans?

Candidates with deeply held Christian beliefs are unfit and disqualified from serving as a federal judge. -- Charles Schumer, Democrat, US Senator from New York

Do you attend Church, Synagogue or Mosque regularly?

  • 36.7% of Democrats attend religious services regularly.
  • 60.7% of Republicans attend religious services regularly.

  • N = 7,489 Margin of Error +/- .5% <>

    Church-Goers Did Not Support Obama in 2008.

    Joe Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year.

    Charity: Who Gives and Who Doesn't?

    Religion in the 2010 Elections

    Back to Top

    Index to the Ol' Buffalo Soapbox

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