On the abuse of Ignorance in a Democracy

I’ve been in a funk lately.  Yes, a funk.  In large part because I am troubled by the persistence of ignorance in my country, and the effect it has on the long-term health of my country.  I can only hope that its effects are minimized.  Until the factor that contributes to large degree to the persistence of that ignorance fades.  That factor is fear of the Other.

Mind you, this is not a new problem.  The parable of the Good Samaritan, attributed to Jesus of Nazareth by the New Testament touches on this issue.  And has been the foundation for prejudicial actions and laws in countless societies throughout the centuries of human co-existence.  But something that troubles me deeply is when someone who claim to be a follower of Christ uses fear of the Other to opportunistically garner political support in a way that is dishonest to his or her constituents.  Because I do not believe Jesus, if he were alive today, would approve of such actions.

Case in point:  Former Arkansas Governor and presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee.  I will leave you to explore the details of this particular case, but the facts as I see them can be summarizes as follows:

  • Mr. Huckabee is hoping to win the Republican Party nomination for President next year.
  • About 50% of likely Republican primary voters do not believe that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.
  • It would be easier Mike Huckabee to win such support if he convinces enough of these voters that he agrees with their mistaken beliefs on this matter in some fashion versus attempting to correct them on the issue.
  • He is attempting to do just that in media (e.g. radio talk shows) that caters to such voters while denying it when called on the matter by mainstream media outlets.

Which brings me to the following question:  If you believe in a democratically elected government AND that your political position is morally just, does that allow you the moral liberty to use the ignorance of potential voters to garner their support?  Or do you have a ethical responsibility to educate such voters when they are incorrect even if it means potentially losing their support?

In other words, do do the ends justify the means in politics, or do the means matter?

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