We weren’t Always this Uninformed

It is not difficult to be counted among the uninformed, politically or otherwise. It’s quite a passive endeavor, actually. And it appears that we, the American public, are less informed than ever (consider this). However, this has not always been so.

Here is Neil Postman, commenting on a debate between Lincoln and Douglas in 1854:

Douglas delivered a three-hour address to which Lincoln, by agreement, was to respond. When Lincoln’s turn came, he reminded the audience that it was already 5p.m., that he would require as much time as Douglas and that Douglas was still scheduled for a rebuttal. He proposed, therefore, that the audience go home, have dinner, and return refreshed for four more hours of talk. The audience amiably agreed, and matters proceeded as Lincoln had outlined. What kind of audience was this? Who were these people who could so cheerfully accommodate themselves to seven hours of oratory?
…These were people who regarded such events as essential to their political education, who took them to be an integral part of their social lives, and who were quite accustomed to extended oratorical performances.¹
¹Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (New York: Penguin, 1985) pp. 44-45