"America's Ignorant Voters"
Michael Schudson has several ideas to explain the ignorance of American voters. I think the most valid reason is that the United States government is extremely complicated. Schudson suggests that even the most educated of political scientists may have difficulty remembering which government agency takes care of which problems. He refers to our government as a “complex…maze of overlapping governmental jurisdictions.” With the amount of elected offices that we have to vote for, we are certain to be at least a little confused.
Schudson informs that in the late 19th century voter turnout was at an extreme before a set of reforms were put in place to make voting more uniform for the country. Ballot reform, for example, forced the voter to actually make a choice and mark their ballot, instead of just taking a ticket from a party worker and placing it in a box. Thus Americans began having to be educated about their choices rather than choose based on who was giving them the ballot.
Personally, I agree most with his idea of “voter fatigue.” Going back to the idea of the United States government being complicated, we are quite literally tired of voting. There are elections every year. Whether it is for state, local, county, or national, we are expected to, not only be educated about who and what we are voting for, but also to have the time to go vote.
I have mixed feelings about whether it matters or not that Americans are less knowledgeable than Europeans. On one hand I think that they are able to be more knowledgeable because their system is not as complicated. But on the other hand I think that we could make more of an effort to learn about our government rather than rely on the media.
As with most things, I believe that the path to better political awareness begins with our children. I think that children are the most effected by media and we, as their parents and educators, need to set them straight before they get “sucked...