A disturbingly large number of people get a great deal of their news and views from Mr. Stewart’s show and similar outlets, and they operate politically along the same model as the show, which is to say they substitute banalities for analysis and posturing for thinking. Understanding, for example, the real substantive differences between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on taxes takes a good deal of work. Because the Dumb Vote is not willing or able to do the work, things unfold like this: Barack Obama complains that Mitt Romney plans to give “tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires and corporations,” Jon Stewart turns that into something in the approximate form of a joke, and the Dumb Vote har-hars about it, nodding its collective head at its own pseudo-insight. If you happen to complicate that view with an incongruous fact — for example, that Barack Obama proposes to reduce corporate tax rates — then the discussion just moves on to another joke: binders full of women, Mormon polygamy, whatever…

For the Dumb Vote, voting is simply an expression of affiliation, a way of marking one’s membership in the tribe of the compassionately ironic or ironically compassionate or whatever. It is a gesture for people who are absolutely certain that they are right — not because they have any meaningful information, but because they are absolutely certain that the other side is evil, which is why they so quickly and consistently revert to claims of racism against a movement that includes lots of non-white partisans, claims of misogyny against a movement that includes an enormous number of women, claims of aspiring Christian theocracy against a movement that includes a great many non-Christians and that is noted for its affinity with the Jewish state, etc.