Conceit

This posting from the Knowledge Problem blog is in my view right on target for much of the post-election complaining.

UPDATE: I should add that it is quite one thing to try to persuade Bush voters that they were not voting in their own interests; it is quite another simply to dismiss them with condescension as too stupid to see their own interests.

BTW, has anyone out there read The Wisdom of Crowds? Care to comment?

KNOWING WHAT'S BEST

Pat Lynch

Have been consistently surprised and disappointed by the extended public and private mourning period the American left is wallowing in. The public hand-wringing over the values debate has obscured a more disturbing trend I've seen among Democrats - conceit.

Implicit in a lot of the complaints from the left has been the notion that "dumb" voters made the "wrong" choice. How dare they not see that more government sponsored economic management would be better than the values and tax cuts of the Bush administration? How stupid can people be to vote for a guy who can't finish sentences?

Well this George Will column from Newsweek does a nice job getting to the core of those complaints. More generally, if you haven't seen Jim Surowiecki's book The Wisdom of Crowds you should. And recommend it to any leftie friends you have. It might wake them up to the silly idea that people know their own best interest and are probably closer to getting things right any some group of blue state intellectuals.

Comments

Will's comments

This is so true.

"As the American public has become more educated, American intellectuals have become more disparaging of the public's intellectual incapacities and moral shortcomings. In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had only an eighth-grade education, or less. Now that 85 percent are high-school graduates, 53 percent have some college education and 27 percent are college graduates, it is an article of faith among the progressive intelligentsia that the public is becoming increasingly obtuse, bigoted and superstitious."

However, one demographic that supported Kerry above 2000 levels was "less than high school education." They should balance out the over educated progressive wing with a little common sense and hard work.

On target about conceit...

But I can sympathize with anti-Bush people's frustrations.Chuck, you are absolutely right about far too many lefties saying ala Guardian (How can 59 million people be so dumb?). I've also seen mindless posts on other boards to the effect of "The Democratic Party *is* the majority party -- the majority just doesn't know it yet." There is definitely too much "blame the voter" and not enough self-examination going on. Though there is some, most notably to me from Rabbi Lerner of the Tikkun movement. Hardly any at all from DNC establisment though.On the other hand, what do we make of polls that indicate that a majority of Bush supporters:
  - Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.- Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission.Many people voted for the President believing the mistaken conclusions above AND believing that the President has been doing an excellent job on fighting terror. But how good of a job can he be doing if he's using vast resources on a country that did not support the global terror network that did in fact attack us?Now, I also personally know Bush supporters who knew that Iraq did not provide significant support to al-Qaeda, but voted for him anyway. Even the poll I cited indicated that some Bush voters understood the facts above and still felt the President would be a better leader. Others felt, with some justification, that Kerry was inconstant in his positions. So, for those reasons, I try not to participate in the "Dumb voters, led by the media" talk. But that's hard when so many people seem to persist in demonstrably false beliefs.One hopefully quick and related note. I accept yours and Tomeboy's assertions that "Everyone Knew [in the US gov't] that Iraq had massive stockpiles of WMD", but I ask you to consider that what Congress "knew" was based on what the White House "knew." I don't believe that the President intended to mislead people on WMD, BUT I do believe that he and his close advisors believed what they wanted to hear (INC - "They have nukes!") and dismissed out of hand any evidence to the contrary (Blix, Ritter, IAEA).From the limited public record provided in the Senate Intelligence Committee report, it appears that the "knowledge" provided to the Congress and the public was mostly unquestioned worst-case scenario material with opposing evidence omitted.Admittedly, the President could have been right. But given the relative strength of the US vs. Iraq or even al-Qaeda; there was time for more rigorous fact checking, time to properly equip the troops with armor; perhaps drill them in Arabic lessons and to allow one last full cycle of inspections to occur. We may have still gone to war, but more people may have believed that it truly was a last resort.

Re:Will's comments

LOL.. it would appear that conceit is a two-way street. I think the assumption that "over educated" people have little or no common sense and do not work hard (the implication I read in this statement), is as fallacious as the assumption that people who voted for Bush were stupid or tricked.

I don't think the Democrats did a good enough job in their campaign. My personal opinion is that voters wanted to give GWB a chance to make his case about the war on terror and Iraq. In some ways, the election did the Dems a favorite. Bush got us into Iraq, and it's up to him to either clean up the mess and succeed... or to have his policy exposed as a fraud.

I think in too many cases and instances, John Kerry ran as a Republican-lite. LOLOL.. but.. being of the far left, I would tend to view it that way. ;)

Interesting point

There was a time—say, from the early 1930s to the mid-1960s, the period of the Democratic Party's ascendancy—when progressives thought their job was to increase the material well-being of ordinary Americans. It is not mere coincidence that the Democratic Party's strength has waned as its intellectuals' disapproval of ordinary Americans has waxed.

What makes it interesting is the nuance, however, not the simplistic analysis it seems to be prima facie. Pundits have been complaining for years about the lack of clear division between Democrats and Republicans, and bemoaning why so few people get off their asses to vote. Given that Democratic infantalism will be as much of an insult to the intelligence of the voters as Republican infantalism, this creates one more factor in which people see no reason to vote because they perceive U.S. federal politics as a single party system.

Now, in my prejudice, all politicians are completely interchangeable. As near as I can tell, the only difference between a Republican and a Democrat in the U.S. is that a Democrat will never flatly admit that he or she is opposed to abortion.

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