Since the events of 9/11 and the controversial war in Iraq the American people have come to the realization that politics, especially on the nation level can no longer be ignored. As important events force these issues into our lives we in turn are compelled to discuss them. Therein hides a problem. How many times have you tried to have an intelligent political conversation with a friend, fellow worker or family member only to discover that two of you are talking on completely different levels? What starts off as a well intended interaction quickly devolves into a struggle to avoid insult or seriously offend. As a way to calculate where you and yours stand, the following are general definitions for the five levels of political awareness.
1. Illiterate – A person who is politically illiterate might know who the President is or perhaps the Governor of their state but that’s usually about it. They don’t watch the news. They have no knowledge of the issues and don’t know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. This person does not vote.
2. Misinformed – This category is for those who have latched onto an extreme sect, an emotional issue, a movement or a charismatic personality. They are often dogmatic about their views and prefer partisan rancor because they would lose an objective debate. They often know little if anything about other perspectives. They have a slow growing awareness of officials but are primarily focused on those they dislike. While this person might be passionate and loud about their views, they are also often hypocritical when it comes to the practice of these views. Politics is a character crutch for them. So in turn this person will usually claim to vote but often does not.
3. General – This is probably where most Americans reside. A general awareness is as the name implies. This person knows who some of the government officials are, they know some of the issues and can tell the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. They might be strongly motivated on one or two issues. They might pick their candidates based on personal appeal rather than party affiliation. They lean towards stability, moderation and bipartisan movements. This person votes in almost every general election.