California elections: more

Tom Condit tomcondit at
Wed Jun 3 10:33:52 PDT 1998

Proposition 227, the anti-bilingual education measure, won in every county except San Francisco and Alameda (Oakland, Berkeley). It got huge margins in counties with overwhelmingly white populations, but the real clincher was the 56% of the vote in Los Angeles, which is the 800-pound gorilla of California politics.

I think the victory represents two things. One is the strength of nativism, opposition to public schools, and other conservative tendencies. The other, far more important, is the difficulty in explaining things like children's cognitive development in a political atmosphere of sound bites. (One poll for instance, found that 12% of California voters had most of their information on the gubernatorial candidates from television commericials and another 41% from television news broadcasts. This means that a majority of the electorate are essentially ignorant. Since they're not for the most part stupid, the ignorance must be seen as largely self-imposed, perhaps in reaction to how little substantive information can be acquired without major research effort, but also out of sheer intellectual laziness. After all, if you know too much about society, you might feel impelled to do something about it, and that would be (a) tedious and (b) potentially dangerous.)

Tom Condit

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