Courtesy of dictionary.com:
Ignorance: “lack of knowledge, information, or education.“
Politics: “use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control.”
In other words, neither politicians nor their brand of politic need be motivated exclusively by ignorance (politician ignorance not disallowed, also not a requirement). Ignorance does remain, however, a primary tool in the task of making their perceived “position of power or control” politically popular enough to become the political norm. To accomplish that goal, an appeal to and support from those who are otherwise burdened by “lack of knowledge, information, or education“ is mandatory. Bottom line: Politicians who promote FALSE premises as their platform (no matter their own level of ignorance) NEED a mass of ignorant voters who willingly accept the lies and falsehoods before they, the political aspirants, can ever succeed.
One could critique for days on end the lies and untruths politicians typically spout in order to tap the vast reservoir of ignorance that defines a substantial percentage of ‘we the people.’ It’s also not difficult at all to pull most any political (or religious) needle out of most any political (or religious) haystack and use it as an example. So with that in mind, here’s but one incidence of a political Appeal to Ignorance, based on the fundamental thesis that “whatever has not been proven false must be true.” Mike Huckabee provided the near perfect ‘lesson’ when he recently said, in re the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage (highlights added):
When people say the train left the station, it’s the law of the land, there’s nothing we can do, let’s move on. I want to say, ‘Have you guys read the Constitution, did you pass 9th grade civics?’ The court can’t make law. We pretend that it can and I’m convinced that a lot of people give that sort of response because they don’t want to have to deal with the complexities of the constitution, which says that there are checks and balances. If we surrender to the judicial branch as if it is the last, final and ultimate word, then we have surrendered to judicial tyranny which is what Jefferson warned us about and the reason that he rejected some Supreme Court arguments as simply being something he couldn’t accept and he didn’t…as did Jackson, as did Lincoln. This notion that the Supreme Court ruled it and therefore it’s the law of the land bypasses the only entity in our government that can make the law of the land: the legislative branch, and it’s not even law until the president signs it and agrees to enforce it. And first of all, a president, if he’s not going to uphold that part of the constitution, get out of the race because you’re going to be lying when you take the oath and say you’ll uphold and defend the constitution because on its face, you’re not defending it, neither are you upholding it when you surrender to the god of judicial supremacy so we’ve got to start there and I certainly would start there.
Huckabee’s premise is that the Supreme Court violated the Constitutional separation of powers by ‘making law’ when it ruled in favor of, essentially, equal access to the ‘rights’ guaranteed under the Constitution to all citizens, regardless of sexual preference. His resentment of the decision is, I suspect, primarily motivated by his religious beliefs which, to his mind, disallow equality to people that are not biblically correct in their behavior. He apparently believes (in spite of the Constitution’s total and complete avoidance of the issue) that America was founded upon biblical principles because Pilgrims et al. sailed to the New World in search of religious freedom. And his (and other religiously-motivated) inferences of that particular topic essentially constitute the old and overused Appeal to Ignorance thesis that whatever has not been proven false must be true; ergo since there is no proof anywhere that our founders did NOT intend this to be a Christian nation that clearly means we ARE a Christian nation. The first Amendment was written to deny only the establishment of OTHER religions. Maybe.
That argument does have wide appeal, however, especially amongst fundamentalist/evangelical Christians of whom there are many, most of whom are apparently ignorant of Constitutional context on virtually any issue. The consequence is, then, that even IF Huckabee is ignorant enough of the Constitution himself — or IF he knows full well that NO religious protocol is ‘established’ in the document — the appeal of his argument to the susceptible, to the ‘ignorant,’ will most certainly take hold and gather in huge numbers of votes.
And therein lies the ‘secret’ of the usefulness of massive ignorance in a given population who are unaware of Constitutional mandates, including the following (highlights added):
Article III. Section. 1:
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.
Article III. Section. 2. Clause 1:
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution . . .
Huckabee is correct when he says the Supreme Court can’t make law. He’s also incorrect when he implies that the Supreme Court, when ruling on a Constitutional issue in what to him is the wrong fashion, IS ‘making law’ even though it’s simply carrying out its Constitutional duty and evaluating a point of Law . . . arising under this Constitution.
Which ‘point of law’? There are at least two amendments that clearly apply:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
ALL citizens have equal rights, and No State is permitted to selectively violate the Constitutional rights of citizens. It is written.
It should also be pointed out that, in spite of what numerous political and religious voices suggest, marriage is NOT defined in the Constitution as the union of one man and one woman; the word ‘marriage’ is not, in fact, even mentioned in the Constitution, as amended. The definition of marriage is therefore NOT a Constitutional issue on any plane, and in its decision the Court did NOT redefine the word. The issue considered and ruled upon was, rather, equality of rights for ALL citizens. So clearly, the Supreme Court did NOT ‘make law’ in its decision; it simply honored the Constitution’s foundational precepts.
Is Huckabee too ignorant to know and understand Constitutional reality? Or is he speaking lies and falsehoods in order to attain the support of the ignorant, of the uninformed? Both? Not that it much matters, given that in either case Huckabee’s theses are incorrect, that the Supreme Court did NOT “make law.” Period.
In my considered opinion, Huckabee and his ilk (himself an ordained Baptist preacher) were all perfectly described (defined?) by Emily Dickinson more than 150 years ago when she wrote:
He preached upon “Breadth” till it argued him narrow —
The Broad are too broad to define
And of “Truth” until it proclaimed him a Liar —
The Truth never flaunted a Sign —
Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As Gold the Pyrites would shun —
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a Man!
Ignorance in Politics is most certainly one of the most expansive “industries” in today’s USA. Huckabee is admittedly little more than a fleck of dust on an otherwise dirty window, but in that sense he (unfortunately) defines politics in general, and the Republican 2016 Clown Car occupants in particular — even as the word “ignorant” defines a huge portion of the American electorate. My guess is that if this ignorance epidemic is not contained and eventually curtailed, the country’s survivability will very soon emerge as an extremely debatable prospect.