My new Think Again column is called “The Tea Party: Struggling for Political Relevance” and it’s here.
The tsoris that forced me to write last week’s Forward column continues in lots of places, most of them foolish. What I found craziest about the Josh Block/Ben Smith accusations was the notion that there is any relationship whatever between alleged anti-Semitism and the desire to resist a potentially disastrous attack on Iran. Block was quite explicit about his desire to shut down all debate about Iran’s nuclear program with his McCarthyite accusations, even though nobody really knows, including the IAEA and the US Director of Central Intelligence. But that’s not my point: My point is that both nations are going to be competing for the “Best Foreign Film” Oscar this year, Israel with the truly excellent Footnote, and Iran with the truly great A Separation. And the latter is going to win, despite the fact that Hollywood is approximately a billion times more Jewish than it is Iranian. So Josh Block and his friends might wish to start planning to call all of Hollywood anti-Semitic in preparation.
Now here’s Reed:
The 27 Percenters
by Reed Richardson
Much has been made in the past few months—and rightly so—about how our nation’s political system all too often operates merely as a lever that the 1 percent use to control the other 99. But what’s just as important to understand is that there’s another minority cohort out there exerting an out-sized influence on our democracy. And though this subset of our citizenry can be reliably counted on to be either spectacularly misinformed or willfully ignorant on any particular issue, their opinions are nonetheless being allowed to shift the center of gravity of our country’s discourse.
Now the notion that some number of Americans will always fail to exercise any intellectual capacity beyond that of a sea cucumber when it comes to politics is admittedly not a new one. “Some of the people,” as Abraham Lincoln famously noted more than 150 years ago, can be fooled “all of the time.” But it wasn’t until six years ago, in an insightful post by blogger John Rogers, that someone finally put an exact figure to this phenomenon. During a discussion of, coincidentally, Barack Obama’s campaign for the U.S. Senate the year before, Rogers notes that Obama’s opponent, the self-immolating, out-of-state, unstable candidate Alan Keyes, was still able to attract 27 percent of the electorate:
They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.