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Jewish World Review Dec. 4, 2000 / 7 , Kislev 5761

Don Feder

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Gore wants every idiot`s vote counted -- THE DEMOCRATIC CASE on so-called undercounted ballots rests on the unstated assumption that many Democrats are too dumb to use a punch-card.

We don't ask much of voters these days. They don't have to speak English -- witness the proliferation of foreign-language ballots -- or be literate, employed or domiciled. (When registering to vote, bums can use shelters or street corners as their address.)

Voters needn't know anything about American history, the political process or the issues of the day. If they're 18 years of age, a citizen and barely conscious they have the franchise.

Is it really too much to expect them to exercise the modest mental capacity to punch a hole in the right place? Yes, says Vice President Al Gore's campaign, hence the wrangling over pregnant chads and dimpled ballots.

We are told that in Palm Beach County, thousands who thought they were voting for Gore ended up casting their votes for Pat Buchanan.

Those baffling butterfly ballots did require an IQ of at least 50 to comprehend. Buchanan was the fourth name on the ballot, so he got the fourth hole. Gore was fifth and, sure enough, had the fifth hole. If further prompting was required, after each candidate's name, an arrow marked the spot to be poked.

In Miami-Dade County, out of more than 654,000 votes cast, 10,750 ballots were excluded because they weren't properly punched. So how did the other 98.4 percent manage to get it right? Are they all Mensa members?

The culture endorses the Democratic position. Increasingly, this is a nation that caters to idiots. We expect less and less. Our expectations are rarely exceeded.

Little old ladies who can't figure out that it's hazardous to drive with an open cup of hot coffee between their knees get mega-judgments, likewise those who contract lung cancer after blithely ignoring decades of pleas on the risks of smoking.

In the Bay State, many parents and students objected to the mandatory Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams. They thought it terribly unfair to subject 8th-graders to brainteasers like the following multiple-choice question on the 1999 test: The population of Boston is 574,000. The population of Massachusetts is 6 million. What is the best approximation to Boston's share of the population? A. 10 percent, B. 20 percent, C. 30 percent, D. 40 percent. (Only 28 percent got it right.)

The dumbing down of America is pervasive. According to the National Association of Scholars, only 36 percent of colleges and universities require a course in English composition to graduate (compared to 86 percent in 1964).

Of our top tier schools, 66 percent have no science requirement and 88 percent do not require a single history course to graduate. We wouldn't want college kids to strain themselves over real courses. Instead, young scholars are enriched by stuff like "Vampire Fiction" (offered by the English department of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee) or lesbian poetry. Lowered expectations rule the retail industry. Scanners were created for clerks who can't punch in prices. If it weren't for computerized cash registers, those working the checkout line would actually have to make change.

The Democrats are continually creating their constituency. They have shaped a generation of which it may charitably be said that thinking is not second nature to them.

Democrats are fierce defenders of public education -- America's illiteracy factories. Through quota, hiring and admissions, the Democratic Party has labored to create a society where what you know (or do) matters less than your race, gender or victim status. Democrats are patrons of a tort industry that has all but obliterated the concept of personal responsibility.

In fairness, we should spend the next four years designing a Democrat-proof ballot for the 2004 election. The words "Democrat" and "Republican" would be replaced by universal symbols, to aid the reading challenged.

In place of names, we'll have 8 by 10 color photographs of the candidates next to boxes on which choices may be designated. Voters not competent to punch a hole or mark an X, can point to a picture and tell an election official, "Me want him!"

To paraphrase Al Gore, in this country, every moron's vote is counted.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate