LIVs voting for LICs


October 24, 2010 by Ron Madson

If you are reading this you are not an “LIV.”   Pollsters describe LIVs (short for “low information voters) as the 60% of the United States voting population that tends to be relatively uneducated, rarely subscribes to newspapers or news magazines, and does not watch any cable news.  This is the same group that often takes a peculiar pride in avoiding book knowledge and world geography —but they still vote.   It is not that LIVs are stupid but rather they have habits and patterns of living that allow them to remain verifiably ignorant of history, politics and basic civic lessons and thus they are easily manipulated by fear, hatred, confusion and the whole array of slogans, labels, and logical fallacies.  Neither of our two major national parties should smugly assume that it is the other party that the LIVs affiliate with for one does not need statistics to observe that both of the major national parties contribute significantly to this host of voters.

But is it the LIVs that should be the focus of our concerns and fears?  And could we really attempt to educate 75 million Americans who vote fifteen times in one night for their favorite American Idol but maybe only half the time every four years for the President of the most powerful country in the world?  No, even Hercules would rather clean a thousand Augean stables than take on such a task.  But we need not despair.  There is a much, much smaller group that we can target. For it is not the LIVs that should be the focus of our concern but rather the LICs—“Low Information Candidates” that should keep us awake at 3 A.M.  If we could successfully screen out or even create an exit “strategory” for LICs then we need not concern ourselves as to whether an LIC could attract the votes of the LIVs.  Is it audacious to have such a hope?   Is that possible to do so?  Has it been done? Has it been successful?  Yes, yes, yes and yes!

More than two millennia ago during the Han Dynasty, Chinese historians observed that for centuries rulers of China found their way to the highest public offices based on such things as hereditary, wealth, charisma, and “who you knew.”  Unfortunately, these factors did not guarantee competence for the genius of one ruler did not guarantee that his son was much more than a high functioning moron.  So the Chinese came up with a novel idea—a national system of examinations for those seeking public office.  Those seeking public office whether rich or poor, connected or not connected, would begin a study of history, Confucian classics, poetry, analytical writing, logic, political science, geography and moral philosophy.  Once they passed they received certification that they were at least eligible for public office.    The program worked so well  in producing able public servants that it was retained by China for 1,300 years.

So I would humbly float an idea.  Since the Chinese are about to own a good portion of our nation that has been run by non-examined public servants maybe we could try a national exam for all that seek public office.  Every person seeking any federal office (Congress, Postmaster General, and even our President) would have to take a federal public servant exam after reading certain mandatory works that would include the Constitution and the Federalist Papers and then two dozen of Western Civilization finest classics—anyone reading this paper I am sure could come up with a list.   Those that pass would get a Certificate or “Seal of Approval” that would then allow them to go out and demagogue all they want to get votes from all the LIVs that they can attract—the exercise being of real no harm given we can at least rest assured that the candidate is not an LIC.

If all of our candidates are pre-approved by rigorous examination(s) then when they have a gaffe here or there as we all do, then we would really have no reason to be concerned.  However, as it is now when a candidate for our highest office tells us that as President they are the “decider” for all branches of the government or another candidate believes that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs then we might have some reason to pause and consider that without a national exam a day may come when an LIC might convince the LIVs to give him/her the nuclear codes and the chief “decider” position.  Through exams we screen surgeons, dentists, judges, and even everyone at airports.  The screening does not mean we will then choose the particular candidate but only that they have passed some minimum bar of intelligence and knowledge—the other attributes we can leave up to negative advertising to ferret out.  However, given the reality that LIVs are now an identifiable voting majority, we need to put in a place a national exam before they discover their power and confuse any election with a beauty pageant without the mandatory questions.

Ron Madson,




10 thoughts on “LIVs voting for LICs

  1. Joseph says:

    Had time to think about this. I’m not sure why such a program is not in place. It is a good idea.

    But, leaving the Less Informed Voters uninformed still creates problems. A better informed candidate is just as likely (and, in some ways, even more able) to manipulate uninformed masses for corrupt and destructive purposes. I do not view Karl Rove as less informed. He’s well-informed and evil.

    So, educating the population still needs to be the ultimate goal. Of course, it is still up to individuals to decide to be better people, so as not to misuse knowledge. Thus I do remain ideologically sympathetic to the ideals of the Libertarian Left.

    Regardless of my philosophical leanings, however, I do still vote, and I try to vote for at least better informed candidates, even when well-informed candidates might not be an option. And, on this site, I don’t have a problem making clear that I do view the Tea Party as having moved the Republican Party much farther in the direction of being so badly informed they shouldn’t have any control in government.

    I realize that there are a number of anarchists who have not and will not vote under any circumstances. I respect that. But if you are anywhere near considering voting, I am going to get evangelical about this: PLEASE VOTE TODAY (if you haven’t voted already) and help keep LIC’s like Palin and O’Donell, and especially thugs like Rand Paul and his ilk, out of power!!!!

    Of course, if you are considering voting Republican, you don’t really need to go through all the extra work it takes to get to the polls. Your decision.

    And, while we work on helping candidates and the electorate become more informed, we can always enjoy how adorable they all are:,18277/

    • Ron Madson says:


      Hilarious Onion article! Thanks for sharing. Of course, you are right about Rove—being well educated does not take into consideration “evil.” Sometimes the LIVs vote for team stupid and sometimes team evil and sometimes both. I agree with you–if you voting Republican don’t bother to show up today–you and the rest of the Tea Baggers are going to win…good luck governing

  2. Joseph says:

    Well Ron, I can’t think of a time where the program you suggest in this post is more needed. And unfortunately I don’t think a crash course is going to bring the ignorant bunch heading into Congress up to speed. But again, this is really a good idea.

    As you say, they won, but can they govern?

  3. Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

    Fun post idea you’ve put up here. The only test we really give candidates now is: how much money can you raise? That’s because, as well as the love of money being the root of all evil – those who want favors, give media time, etc., all want candidates who can enrich them. I know this as both a non-major party candidate and one who interviewed candidates before ever deciding to run. I used to ask them all, “Have you ever read the entire U.S. Constitution? Sadly, less than 5% ever had. They must have felt restrained from lying in case I would next ask them a question about it that they would have no idea the answer to.
    Floyd Fitzgibbons

    • Ron Madson says:

      You would pass the test with honors. Your a truly a “HIC”–High Information Candidate. I am not sure if the public could handle a “high information” debate. I have been told that during the Lincoln-Douglas debates that the crowd would stand on their feet for 7 hours hearing the candidates reason through issues—now it is 30 second soundbites and rhetoric—“sound and fury signifying nothing”
      Let us know how your run for congress turns out.

  4. Chris Smith says:

    I doubt you could succeed in instituting an official exam of this type, but I’ve often wondered if a private company could design a sufficiently neutral test and then generate enough interest from media and HICs to pressure even LICs to have to take it.

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