Rush Limbaugh and his Low Information Voters

Perennial blowhard Rush Limbaugh bewails the state of American democracy, given its recent re-election of a moderately liberal black man—a deplorable state of affairs due, in Mr. Limbaugh’s view, to the empty-headed hordes of “low information voters.” These poor saps are, by right wing definition, liberal voters, or even those with middle-of-the-road political dispositions. Certainly any Obama voter must ipso facto be low information, and almost any supporter of a Democrat. But Limbaugh is wrong forty-two percent of the time, and he lies fifty-eight percent of the time, which means that his caterwauling should be ignored one hundred percent of the time. A more accurate definition of a low information voter is the modern descendant of a species discovered by H. L. Mencken: the knuckle-dragging boobus americanus, who, squatting beside the radio, listens raptly to Limbaugh’s mummery and mistakes the sputum dribbling from his mouth as actual reality. This pitiable cretin bears, as Mencken once noted in a slightly different context, “all the stigmata of inferiority—moral certainty, cruelty, suspicion of ideas, fear.” In other words, the true low information voter is the Limbaugh fan, first cousin to Faulkner’s Flem Snopes, but even further debauched. In addition to the stigmata, and since reality is an insufficient explanation for the menacing forces presumed to be surrounding him, Rush’s typical listener leaps to conspiracy theories, filters out any tincture of rationality, and sees himself as the hapless and innocent victim of the vast and bellicose armies of radical leftists seeking to dispossess him of his guns and his lesser constitutional freedoms. Not that he has ever read the Constitution or would actually agree with any of its sentiments, other than the second amendment. In short, he is as ignorant as a housefly. This constellation of unenviable traits makes him the perfect gull for Rush, who has slopped at the trough of public stupidity and paranoia for years and made a fine living at it. Rush’s overriding message is akin to a gigantic, engorged, suppurating boil on the end of his nose waiting for the scalpel, and when its blade pricks, the fetid ejecta splatters over all of those within earshot, anointing them with his imbecilities and lies, and leaving them feeling as if they have been bathed by John the Baptist himself. But in truth, their low information status has just been lowered into negative digits, their fragile hold on reality further loosened, their panic heightened, and their fact-free anger stoked. They rush, so to speak, headlong into the darkness, girded for the Apocalypse, oblivious.

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