Democracy literally means rule by the people. Yet in practice, democracy means that the important decisions within a society are made through public discussions, often among elected representatives. To play a productive role in political discussions, you need a set of skills that do not come naturally, which is why they have traditionally been taught in school. Unfortunately, our public schools in the United States are failing to teach these skills. Many people want to blame the students, the parents, or the teachers for this failure. Yet as I explain in Not Trivial: How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free, the public schools have been set up for failure, by policies made at a high level.
Many people have been complaining that the educational system in the United States is failing. Yet whether you consider something to be a success or a failure depends on your point of view. After all, a basketball game is a success if your team wins and a failure if it loses. If you want the educational system to keep the majority of the voters not only ignorant but completely unashamed of their ignorance, maybe the system is succeeding beyond your wildest dreams.
When you watch the following footage, note how completely unashamed the interviewees are about their ignorance. Some of them actually think that it’s cute:
Here’s a disturbing comment from Noam Chomsky, the foremost intellectual in the United States: