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I remember I read a paper that quizzed both random individuals and individuals who had served in elected civil office, and most of the elected officials (both state and local levels) did about as well as the random sampling on the quiz. It covered all the things learned in civics class - branches of government, matters pertaining to the Constitution, etc. I've lost the link, but it was pretty interesting.

It's pretty unsurprising to me. The biggest problem is that there's no incentive for people to learn these kinds of things; or that there's not enough benefit to the effort you have to put in. So imagine something you learn in your everyday life. Perhaps something like a hobby - Fencing for me - or a trade of some kind. There's a discreet, expected return from these things. You do the hobby because you enjoy it, giving you some intangible benefits but definitely improving your quality of life, since you're happier and more active and with others who enjoy the same thing, and so on. For a trade, the benefits are obvious and direct - you get a new job in your trade, presumably one that makes you more money than you're making now.

The problem with learning about the things that are necessary to be a "good citizen" or "good voter" is two-fold: one, it's hard to know all the stuff you need to know to be truly informed. Say I want to decide between two candidate, and the only thing they are different on is their trade policies - one wants to have protectionism, and close the markets to the world, and the other wants to have free trade. Which do I vote for? Well, first I need to know about the candidates themselves, to see who wants what. Then I have to learn about economics, because how can I decide between the two policies if I don't know anything about them? But it doesn't stop there, now I also need to know about political science, to see how likely it is that each candidate can even get their policy passed. And this is just one issue - most of the time, candidates vary wildly on many different things, and so you have to learn not only about economics, but also science to see if fracking really is dangerous, or about criminology to see if crime rates have been rising and the lenient policies of the last administration was really to blame, and so on.

The second issue is that your vote just doesn't really matter all that much. So take the state I live in, which has almost 4.7 million people. If I'm voting for a state law, my vote is literally 1 in 4.7 million. My odds of actually deciding the vote is literally 1 in 4.7 million; and perhaps far less than that if many people are against or for the particular measure. Even if only half votes, that still leave me voting with 2.3 million people; and as an individual, my singular vote basically counts for nothing.

So it's just not worth people's time to learn about civics in general. And people recognize that because they know it won't really make a big difference in their lives, most people don't really want to learn it for its own sake, so there's no reason to put that much effort into learning about it. And that's how you get a situation like that.

[–] Fluf 3 points

we need to spice up the names so they are more memorable and relevant to the average american. i propose Super Trump 3000, Hooters Congress of Boobs and Wings and Fines&Jailtime-R-Us.

President Comacho is probably the smartest person on the planet outside of our protagonists there. He talks well compared to most other characters, managed to get elected President (although apparently, even in real life, you only need to be a celebrity game show host to manage that), and then knew to get this super smart guy to help him out, even if his promises are insane.

Idiocracy was a pretty entertaining movie. 8/10, Mike Judge is pretty good.