Those Damned Sheeple!


One of the more interesting Democratic interpretations of Arnold Schwarzenegger's commanding victory in a relatively high-turnout election was that, well, the voters are stupid. Feminist Santa Monica State Sen. Sheila Kuehl told Daniel Weintraub that her Democratic colleagues needed to find a way to "save the state ? from ignorance," while the LA Weekly's Harold Meyerson took a more scientific-sounding approach:

Just about the only clear progression apparent in the exit polling on Tuesday?s election correlated support for the recall with level of education. High school grads backed the recall at a rate of 61 percent; voters with some college at a rate of 59 percent; college grads at a rate of 57 percent; and voters with postgraduate study at a rate of 45 percent. What this may refract is the differing levels of access to sources of information and misinformation about California politics. It may help explain why unions, which have had an impressive record of steering their members into the Democratic column over the past decade, were able to persuade just 55 percent of their members to oppose the recall.

For alt weekly finger-pointing of a rather different sort, try Marc Cooper, or the OC Weekly's R. Scott Moxley. Meanwhile, insufferable novelist Jane Smiley is ready to wash her hands of the voting masses:

The heavy turnout Tuesday might be a good sign for democracy, but it might not. In the end, I am afraid we have voted for narcissism, capriciousness, secrecy, fraud, ignorance and all the other qualities that Schwarzenegger brings to office, and we will deserve what we get. That's the imponderable mystery of democracy.

NEXT: Cheat Neat

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  1. See why I left the Democrats? *Christ*

  2. After the mellee of the carping and attacks from Democrats about Arnold, the only thing they can stand by is their assertion that the voters are stupid? It is time for an about face into the mirror for most ill-conceived self-designated LIBERAL Democrats. Afterall, California is the great Left Coast’s designated homeland, as such the perceived idiocy of the California voter has to be the result of the LIBERAL Democrats’ educational policies and social experimentation. Or, Californians just hate Gray Davis.

  3. is constantly railing against the sheeple. It seems they think anyone who disagrees with them must be uneducated or just plain stupid.


  4. Jane Smiley’s article particularly bugged me because I’ve always liked her books. I wasn’t aware that she wrote about politics.

    So, someone I had respected is now writing that Republicans are more equal than others (were their votes counted twice?) and sees the U.S. heading toward a Saddam-style dictatorship. Bummer. I thought she was smarter than that.

  5. Kuehl was obviously talking about Schwarzenneger’s ignorance, not the voters’. The linked interview doesn’t even contain the word “voter”.

    “Ignorant” does not imply “stupid”.

  6. Cruz Bustamante deserves extra scorn for ruining what would otherwise be a very cool name.

  7. I got a kick out of the exit polling statistics on education levels. I wonder how many of those “post-graduate” types had real degrees and how many were in things like political science or womans studies?

  8. When I was young and in college we a had a term for someone who spent the extra years doing graduate work and didn’t seam to learn enough to get out of their own way – educated idiots.

  9. So when uneducated non-white folks vote Democrat, it’s indicative of the Democrats being champions of the ‘people.’ When the same people vote Republican, they’re ‘ignorant.’


  10. Here at Yale we just call all the idiots “Students & Faculty”.

  11. I’ve noticed that, too. Democrats applaud the unwashed masses when they vote Democrat, implying that the Democratic candidate was clearly “a man of the people” or a champion of the “common man.” However, when these same unwashed masses vote Republican, they cry foul and claim that the unwashed masses only did so out of “ignorance.” Democrats are so unbelievably stuck on themselves these days.

  12. Didn’t the Dems complain, when Gore won the popular vote, that the people had spoken and Gore should have been prez? Aren’t they now complaining that the people have spoken, and Arnold should not be Gov because the people are stupid? Could we maybe make up our minds?

  13. When a conservative wins an election the right claims it’s a vindication of conservatism, that they are the real champions of the common man. And the Democrats claim the people were ignorant or brainwashed by conservative lies.

    When a liberal wins an election the liberals say that it’s a vindication of liberalism, that they are the real champions of the common man. And the Republicans claim the people were ignorant or brainwashed by liberal lies.

    And in some circles we hear that a liberal victory is because of those evil big-city masses, followed by lots of urban vs. rural nonsense.

    When a liberal wins a close election we hear that illegal immigrants voted, and that the election was stolen. When a conservative wins a close election we hear that minorities were disenfranchised by one mechanism or another, and that the election was stolen.

    What we never hear is “Hmm, maybe we lost because we ran a bad candidate.”

    So people here are of course free to pretend that liberals are the only ones who spew incendiary rhetoric when they lose elections, but the fact is that in politics most losers are sore losers. (Not all, I know, you don’t need to trot out the exceptions. And sometimes the sorest losers are pundits rather than candidates.)

  14. What real conservative has ever gone wild for democracy and the “common man”?

    The fact that populists (think Bill O’Reilly) are now mostly considered right-wing does not mean they are conservatives. It means instead that the Left is simply not popular.

  15. I forgot to mention the media:

    When a liberal loses an election it’s because the “corporate media”, which is of course in bed with the FCC, gave the liberal bad coverage.

    When a conservative loses an election it’s because the “liberal media”, on orders from Barbra Streisand, gave the conservative bad coverage.

    We never hear “Our candidate ran a bad campaign.”

    It’s always somebody else’s fault. And it’s always the other side that refuses to take responsibility and blames everybody else.

  16. Jane, you ignorant….

  17. “High school grads backed the recall at a rate of 61 percent; voters with some college at a rate of 59 percent; college grads at a rate of 57 percent; and voters with postgraduate study at a rate of 45 percent.”

    Wait a minute! Wasn’t it 55% overall? There aren’t that many of us freaks who like extra college, so (aside from plausible distortions in the exit polling, of course) there must be a substantially low support from those who didn’t graduate from high school. I wonder why that number wasn’t mentioned…?

  18. the “more educated vote for x” seems to be a way of saying “if you’re smart/intelligent, you’d vote x”. it’s that kind of manipulation or bias that was used in the EU referendia in A, Dk, N, S back for their various votes.

    the self appointed, smug intelligencia. here we have double the pleasure with the self annointed, self righteous moral police, too. ahhh, america.


  19. to add to thoreau:
    And in some circles we hear that a conservative victory is because of those selfish (and evil) SUV-driving suburbanites, followed by lots of suburbs vs. core nonsense.

  20. Note to ‘thoreau’: I don’t suppose it would be too much to ask for some examples of your thesis. I see the examples where liberals are calling “common people” too stupid to understand the liberal hogwash. (That’s what the original note was about.) I’m just lacking in examples where the non-liberals are calling everyone stupid for voting for liberals.

    I recall when Ann Richards was elected in Texas, _EVERYONE_ said that the candidate running against her was an idiot (Clayton Williams), and that it was _him_ that was responsible for the result, not the “stupid people”.

    So I’d be happy to believe you if you aren’t just presuming that the non-liberals in this country act just like the liberals. I’ve (personally) never done that, and neither have any of the non-liberal friends of mine. But virtually _all_ of my liberal friends blame the weakness of thier political success on the stupidity of the populace…

    So what you claim sounds really significant – if we accept it on face value. But you provide no actual data to support your assertions.

    BTW, for your postscript – the “media” bias… I believe you will find that the “media bias” is for “liberals”. The steady whining about “conservative media bias” from the liberals is merely a liberal response to the success the conservatives have had in identifying and exposing the status quo. In short, the liberals have seen a successful strategy, so they have attempted to copy it. It doesn’t matter to a liberal whether there is any truth or fact behind the claim, only that it gets repeated enough to _appear_ possible. (Apparently they have been successful with you – at least.)

  21. I think this goes to the heart of how NPR liberals differ from what pass as “conservatives” these days.

    Despite Coulter’s whining in “Slander,” the right (at least the neocon right) is much more prone to harsh, angry, red-meat demagogy, with lots of gratuitous charges of being unpatiotic or treasonous.

    But liberals are much more prone to self-congratulatory smugness and elitism. I’m thinking of those smarmy “Democrats Care” bumper-stickers. And it’s hilarious to hear mainstream Democrats congratulating themselves on their ability to understand complex issues in subtle shades of gray, at the same time they portray opposition to gun control as being soft on gun violence, or dismiss anyone opposed to the NEA agenda as “anti-education.”

    Of course, it’s also funny to see right-wingers priding themselves on how they use their heads instead of their hearts–until “our commander-in-chief” wraps himself in the flag.

  22. “This is the kind of crap that goes on in (California) elementary school? Some day these kids will grow up and take charge. By the time we have grandkids the whole state’s going to be screwed up.” My father, shortly before moving us to Texas in 1960.

  23. Perhaps the never ending need to classify people by means of their formal education (it is never assumed that one can educate themselves about anything) is part of the problem.

  24. “A certain amount of people are meant to be in control. Ninety-five percent of the people have to be told what to do, have to be given orders.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger in his autobiography, “Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder.”

  25. Nice, JB.

    thoreau, there are a substantial number of Democrats who attribute the 2000 presidential election loss to Gore’s being a bad candidate who ran a bad campaign. The Republicans should never have been able to get close enough to steal the election.

  26. TooStupid2KnowBetter-

    Well, when googling for “stupid liberals” plenty of commentary comes up. Now, I don’t know which of those examples you’ll take as “authoritative.” I don’t claim that the entire right wing in America thinks people who vote for liberals are stupid. But inevitably a few partisans will surface after a liberal victory and claim that too many voters were gullible enough to believe liberal lies. Just as a few partisans will show up after a Republican victory and lament how “dumb” the voters were (I met one this evening, as a matter of fact.)

    As to whether the liberals are lying about the “corporate media”: I never said whether I believe the liberals or the conservatives on how the media affects elections. The fact that I suggest some sort of equivalence will tell partisans on either side that I’ve been brainwashed by the other side. Surely I wouldn’t suggest some sort of equivalence if I realized just how harsh the media is on Republicans. Surely I wouldn’t suggest some sort of equivalence if I realized just how sinister that corporate media is in undermining Democrats.

    My point is this: We live in a big world. There are a lot of people and institutions with a lot of agendas. They’re all playing in the political arena. After you lose an election you have two choices:

    1) Admit that your candidate wasn’t good enough to compete in that arena, or at least not good enough relative to his opponent.

    2) Claim that it’s due to stupid voters, the media, and election fraud. (Liberals always claim minorities were disenfranchised, conservatives always claim that felons and illegal aliens are voting. Maybe they’re both right, in which case we should have a big paintball tournament between some right-wing shysters and a bunch of illegal immigrants. Let them duke it out while the rest of us vote.)

    So, even if this country is in the grip of an evil cabal of liberals who control everything and make life impossible for conservatives, the fact that conservatives still win a lot of elections (just like liberals) means that it’s a pretty damn incompetent cabal. So go out there and fight instead of whining “Election fraud! Media bias! Dumb voters!”

  27. Interesting commentary from Democrats about the same electorate that reelected Gray Davis eleven months ago. What changed?

    Actually, nothing changed. Californians are spoiled, not stupid. They want way more government services than they are prepared to pay for. They hate politicians who talk about tax increases; they riot against proposals to cut spending, literally preventing such proposals from being considered through referenda. And now the state is in Argentina-land with its fiscal situation.

    The voters chose to blame Gray Davis. It wasn’t a big surprise, and Davis deserved the treatment he got. But when a notoriously poll-driven politician gets in trouble for the consequences of the policies he advocates, it ought to tell us something about the voters whose opinions polls report.

    Let’s not kid ourselves. If California is to restore its fiscal solvency, it will have to cut spending a lot more than Schwarzenegger said it would in the campaign, which was not much. It will need more revenue also. This might come from a return of 1999 style economic growth, which is what a lot of Californians seems to be counting on, but it’s more likely that tax increases will be required, especially if Schwarzenegger follows through on the one specific promise he did make and gets the car tax repealed.

    Celebrity or no celebrity, if Schwarzenegger says anything like this on the campaign trail, he doesn’t get elected. Californians are up in arms about their politicians, but the politicians aren’t their problem. Their problem is staring at them in the mirror — a lot of people who have lived beyond their means for years, don’t think they should have to change, and believe devoutly that the consequences for this are always someone else’s fault.

  28. Hear, hear, j! The one thing Wesley Clark has done so far that I really like: somebody asked him if he was educated, and he said, “Yes, I’m educated. I read books.” I’ll bet that really pissed off the people who think “education” is a commodity that is delivered by the educrats, or a process that can only take place under the supervision of qualified “experts.” I figure it was just a slip and he’ll clarify “what he really meant” after the barrage of outrage from the NEA.

    I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “If you think education is expensive, take a look at ignorance.” It was a pretty direct opposite to my own sticker: “I suport more mony for publick skools.” Education isn’t expensive–government schools are.

  29. Zathras – Very well said. Thus Spake California – “We want an action hero to save us from Gray Davis.”

    Who will save them from themselves?

  30. Kevin,

    He also went to that incompetent, hellish public skool known as West Point.

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