- - Monday, October 6, 2014

Democrats may not be quite as smart as they think they are. That’s the conclusion of a new Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey that posed a dozen questions about current events. Republicans emerged as the most informed in the poll.

President Obama and his party prefer to think of Republicans as hayseeds who cling bitterly to guns and religion, but it turns out blue-state residents who get their news from National Public Radio aren’t as tuned in to what’s happening in the rest of the world.

By a wide margin, Republicans proved more likely to know that there are more Shiites than Sunnis in Iran. They are more aware that Common Core is an educational standard and that oil is driving North Dakota’s economic boom. More Republicans can identify Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister. Fewer Democrats realize that ISIS controls territory in Syria, and that Ukraine was once part of the Soviet Union.

Janet Yellen is far from a household name, but 27 percent of Republicans were able to identify her as Federal Reserve chairman, one point higher than the Democratic score. About three-quarters of Americans know the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but Republicans edged out Democrats by a single point here again. The only things that Democrats knew better than Republicans were that Liberia had an Ebola outbreak and that 15 percent are living below the poverty line.

That 15 percent figure is roughly what the poverty level was when Lyndon Baines Johnson declared war on poverty. Five decades of government’s finest minds addressing the problem with $12 trillion in taxpayer funds, and we’re right where we started. That’s no accident.

At its core, liberalism is about trusting government to come up with solutions to problems. It’s a belief that experts trained in the Ivy League are better able to make important decisions than individuals acting on their own. Liberals can’t pay too much attention to current events, or else they’d notice that central planning and collectivism never works out in practice as well as it does on the professor’s blackboard.

Democrats alone were shocked that Obamacare has been a train wreck. Despite the warnings from Republicans that putting the government in charge of medicine would only make health care more expensive and less available, Democrats charged ahead and made Obamacare the law of the land on a strict party-line vote.

Conservatives put faith in individuals to know what’s best for themselves. They think that the people closest to a problem are the most likely to know what solutions will work, and which ones won’t work. They believe the eyes and ears of millions of people in the free market have a greater knowledge than the smartest person atop an ivory tower.

When Joe Biden was running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, he famously snapped at a reporter asking a tough question: “I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do.” Now we know, Joe, that’s probably not true.

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