Monday, September 21, 2020

Millennial and Gen Z Holocaust survey spells doom for our democracy


Millennial and Gen Z Holocaust survey spells doom for our democracy

You’ll notice that the pollsters almost always ask the American people opinion questions — are you feeling like more of a donkey or an elephant these days? — to which there are no wrong answers. Because when they ask questions to which there are wrong answers, boy, do they get a lot of them.

This week we learned that 19 percent of young New Yorkers — millennials and Gen Z — believe Jews caused the Holocaust. Do these people also believe President Kennedy assassinated Dallas and that the Civil War was fought between the Crips and the Bloods? A shocking 58 percent of New York state adults between 18 and 39 could not cite the name of any concentration camp, death camp or ghetto.

I’m not sure why this survey of 1,000 Americans only went after people under 40, though. A thing young people have in common is that they have at least spent some time in school fairly recently. Old folks haven’t. Are the youngs really any dumber than the olds? Polls that don’t break out groups by age routinely find that Americans are so breathtakingly ill-informed it’s a wonder they can open a can of soda without leaving the tip of their index finger floating in their Diet Pepsi.

A survey in 2013 by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 27 percent of Americans think God helps determine the outcome of football games. (Obviously wrong: It’s Satan, hence the success of his nephew Bill Belichick). A 2012 survey by the National Science Foundation found that 26 percent of Americans believe the sun goes around the Earth instead of the other way around, which indicates people haven’t been keeping up with the newspapers since about 1532. Last year a YouGov survey found that 45 percent of Americans believe ghosts and demons exist, with 22 percent saying they “definitely” do. Republicans (54 percent) are especially likely to believe in demons, and 41 percent of women (as against 31 percent of men) have personally felt the presence of a demon or a ghost. Eighty-four percent of women believe in angels, as do 72 percent of men (Gallup, 2004). As for Democrats, 67 percent of them said (in a 2018 YouGov poll) that Russia “tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected.” There is no more evidence for this than there is for the existence of vampires.

survey last year found that the majority of residents in every state except Vermont would have failed a citizenship test, but then again Vermont keeps sending Bernie Sanders to the Senate, and people who vote for a guy who thinks Fidel Castro is a cool leader definitely flunk out as Americans.

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Last year a YouGov survey found that 45 percent of Americans believe ghosts and demons exist, with 22 percent saying they “definitely” do.Alamy

It’s not just civics that people fail, though, it’s the conceptual basics of how government works. A 2009 Gallup poll found that 71 percent want to reduce the size of government spending, but don’t want to touch the stuff that makes up that spending (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). So what do people think is driving the budget deficit? “Waste.” It’s 50 percent of federal spending, according to that Gallup survey. Another poll the following year, by the World Public Opinion, found that Americans think we can fix the budget deficit by curbing “foreign aid,” which respondents believe constitutes 27 percent of federal spending. That figure is off by more than 26. Foreign aid is a tiny fraction of federal spending, well under 1 percent.

It’s obvious that young people are too dumb to vote. So are old people, women, Democrats, men, Republicans, Vermonters and non-Vermonters. When you ask yourself why democracy isn’t working, consider who is responsible for it. John Adams warned us about this when he said democracy couldn’t work if people weren’t paying attention: “A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of the Constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality, are absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free government,” Adams said, adding, “this crap carnival is gonna get outta hand if voters don’t know anything.” At least I feel he said that, and feelings must be at least as important as facts. That’s in the Ninth Amendment, I’m pretty sure.

Kyle Smith is critic-at-large at National Review.