Just how stupid are we? : facing the truth about the American voter

by Richard Shenkman

Hardcover, 2008




New York : Basic Books, c2008.


Bestselling historian Rick Shenkman takes aim at the wisdom of the American people. He writes that American voters are misusing, abusing, and abdicating their political power.

User reviews

LibraryThing member DuncanMoron
"Just How Stupid Are We", written by Rick Shenkman, might be the first book that has unequivocally substantiated my long time belief that we are really stupid people. It uses political elections to portray the public’s stupidity, and how easily the masses are swayed. It lays out factual data and
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mixes in his opinions on how easily politicians shift the public to vote one way or the other. I love it when he states things like how the masses are more interested in Palin's daughter giving birth out of wedlock. The gossip garners more attention than the fact that Biden was booted out of the 1988 Presidential election for Plagiarism.

The historian gives examples of several different elections showing us how we might back into good candidates, or we might elect people who are really just as dumb as all of us. Everyone is simply swayed by rhetoric and good speaking skills. The point is that no matter who we elect, we do it based on sheer stupidity. Now that I have read his book it makes much more since how Palin was thrust into our national spotlight to begin with. Nothing against the card carrying NRA Governor but please, is she really that interesting.

Keep in mind that Rick Shenkman is a liberal so his ideas of good and bad decisions may not necessarily coincide with us stout conservatives, but he does make some valid points. One of my favorite quotes is when he states, "I presume that a majority still do not know that the only country that has used nuclear weapons in a war is their own." Obviously he is speaking of us when he talks. I remember a few years back hearing of a study that asked random citizens where New Mexico was located and a large percentage didn't even know it was a state. Mexico is down south.

Whether you believe his political conclusions and support his liberal viewpoints or not, it is a very interesting read. How can we as the people be opposed or support a war in Iraq when most of us can't even find it on a map. Makes you wonder what they are teaching in our schools and who exactly is not getting left behind. One thing is for sure, Obama is black and he was elected President. That is a huge move in the right direction to unite our country, now if we can only figure out what this Congress thing is that everyone keeps talking about and who controls it we might be in business.

I would consider this book a must read for everyone and after you are done you will most likely subscribe to that newspaper you have long since given up on. The internet is a wonderful tool but we seem to be losing touch with what our nation is about. Electronics be damned, I can't understand how that little hanging chad didn't get punched all the way through to begin with.
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LibraryThing member fpagan
The myth of (the wisdom of) "The People" when it comes to politics. Unlike Susan Jacoby's much larger work, this book just deals with simple lack of intelligence. It doesn't get into the larger issues of antirationalism and anti-intellectualism. As for voter stupidity in a presidential election,
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let's hope that 2004 was the epitome.
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LibraryThing member ejp1082
Spoiler alert: We're really stupid. Don't read this if you're easily frightened.
LibraryThing member jocraddock
A fascinating account of how the American voter has and continues to expect to be entertained and appeased rather than study the character (or lack thereof) and issues of our time.
LibraryThing member lindap69
While I appreciate the fact that others are not as political as I may be, I find it appalling how ignorant and lazy the American voter can be. John Dewey, American philosopher from the turn of the century, "warned that in a consumer society, which at the time had not fully materialized, voters
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would be hard-pressed to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens given the available distractions. A people who spend their evenings atending movies, listening to the radio and taking automobile rides would take less interest in politics, making them increasingly vulnerable to manipulation"
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