Everywhere I turn I see that an election is happening. But I can’t think of a way to stop it. … Aheu!

I gather that the term “low information voter” originated in Democratic Party circles in the USA, about one-quarter of a century ago. They applied it to members of the underclass who had voted Republican, possibly by mistake. But the term deserved a broader application, and by now it is used by all sides, and all sorts, including the poorly informed.

There is a long, international tradition of choosing bigotry and stupor, in a conscious and enthusiastic way. People are funny like that: the more you tell them they are ignorant and crass, the prouder they become of their opinions. It has been suggested that my own casual and frequent references to the “idiotization” of the general public are unlikely to charm them. I fully agree. Flattering them would be morally wrong.

One thinks of the Know Nothing Party, that flourished south of the border during the 1850s. This lot of “Nativists” took such pleasure in persecuting Catholics and (arguably legal) immigrants — the Irish and the Germans especially — they almost forgot to pick on the Negroes. In fact, they were neutral on slavery. They didn’t think it was terribly important. The important thing was to get rid of the Catholics.

The party did not get its name for stupidity, per se. Rather it began as community-organized secret cells. They were ancestors to the (rabidly anti-Catholic) Ku Klux Klan. Members were instructed to say that they knew nothing, should anyone ask about their secret activities. Hence, “Know Nothings” is what they were called, behind their backs — until they came to wear this title, proudly.

It is interesting to trace their political successes. Demographic research has shown that they appealed to a constituency that was above the average, in income and formal education. (I find this remains true of the real idiots, today.)

They did well, at first, among the Southern Whigs, and then swept polls in Pennsylvania and New England. They missed out on Congress, but for a time were carrying one state house after another — with campaigns much enlivened by church-burnings, lynchings of priests, attacks on Irish neighbourhoods, &c.

With power — in Massachusetts, for example, where they won almost every seat — they passed the sort of legislation we would hail today as “liberal,” “progressive,” and “ahead of its time”: a blueprint for the twentieth-century Nanny State. All women’s rights, market regulation, prohibitions on this and that, welfare measures, and wild overspending.

They were not in power for long. Yet it wasn’t the violence that hurt them. Rather, I believe, it was the Dred Scott decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1857. It split the Know Nothings into warring camps, with all the prim opponents of slavery going over to the Republican Party, leaving the rank-and-file in the care of the complete dunderheads, who quickly found themselves pro-slavery in the North, and pro-Union in the South. It is one of history’s little paradoxes that Democrats a century later would verbally tar Republicans with the Know Nothing ancestry — for they were the worst of the know-nothing bigots, who laid down the later Democratic base.

The amusement currently is to see Democrat flunkeys, such as Cardinal Dolan of New York, spreading the word that Donald Trump is a latter-day Nativist and thus — by a process of his hocus-pocus reasoning — a potentially virulent anti-Catholic. (See his recent column in the New York Daily News, here.) His Eminence, who has little to say on Planned Parenthood (for instance), is of course drawing on a long tradition of Party sleaze, in making his insinuations. Democrats have been trying to pin this tail on prominent Republicans for decades. But it came off the back end of their own donkey.

It is true that Trump (whom I despise) appeals to “low information voters.” So do all the other candidates, of both parties. So do all the politicians up here in the Far North. Because “low information voters” is what we have, in an overwhelming majority. The politicians rehearse statements every day that could not possibly survive a moment of intelligent scrutiny. They know they are not going to get any.

But what disturbs me about Boy Trudeau, say, or Marxo Mulcair, is that they may actually believe what they are saying. This would place them more than half-way to insane.

At least, with Harper (the scumbag currently in power), one has a reasonable assurance that he knows better; that he is fecklessly telling people the kind of nonsense they want to hear. Or in a word, lying. Also, buying people off with their own money in a corrupt and utterly cynical way.

(I sure hope he wins.)