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ACT Question for November 13th

          SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from
          a book entitled A Preface to Politics by Walter

               The most incisive comment on politics to-
          day is indifference. When men and women begin
          to feel that elections and legislatures do not
          matter very much, that politics is a rather distant
(5)     and unimportant exercise, the reformer might as
          well put to himself a few searching questions.
          Indifference is a criticism that cuts beneath
          oppositions and wranglings by calling the
          political method itself into question. Leaders in
(10)   public affairs recognize this. They know that no
          attack is so disastrous as silence, that no
          invective is so blasting as the wise and indulgent
          smile of the people who do not care. Eager to
          believe that all the world is as interested as they
(15)   are, there comes a time when even the reformer
          is compelled to face the fairly widespread
          suspicion of the average man that politics is an
          exhibition in which there is much ado about
          nothing. But such moments of illumination are
(20)   rare. They appear in writers who realize how
          large the public is that doesn't read their books,
          in reformers who venture to compare the
          membership list of their league with the census
          of the United States. Whoever has been granted
(25)   such a moment of insight knows how exquisitely
          painful it is. To conquer it, men usually turn to
          their ancient comforter, self-deception: they
          complain about the stolid, inert masses and the
          apathy of the people. In a more confidential tone
(30)   they will tell you that the ordinary citizen is a
          "hopelessly private person."
               The reformer is himself not lacking in
          stolidity if he can believe such a fiction of a
          people that crowds about tickers and demands
(35)   the news of the day before it happens, that
          trembles on the verge of a panic over the
          unguarded utterance of a financier, and that
          founds a new religion every month or so. But
          after a while self-deception ceases to be a
(40)   comfort. This is when the reformer notices how
          indifference to politics is settling upon some of
          the most alert minds of our generation, entering
          into the attitude of men as capable as any
          reformer of large and imaginative interests. For
(45)   among the keenest minds, among artists,
          scientists, and philosophers, there is a
          remarkable inclination to make a virtue of
          political indifference. Too passionate an
          absorption in public affairs is felt to be
(50)   somewhat shallow, and the reformer is
          patronized as a well-meaning but rather dull
          fellow. This is the criticism of men engaged in
          some genuinely creative labor.
               Nothing, too, is more illuminating than the
(55)   painful way in which many people cultivate a
          knowledge of public affairs because they have a
          conscience and wish to do a citizen's duty.
          Having read a number of articles on the tariff
          and ploughed through the metaphysics of the
(60)   currency question, what do they do? They turn
          with all the more zest to some spontaneous
          human interest. Perhaps they follow, follow,
          follow the president everywhere and live with
          him through the emotions of a great battle. But
(65)   for the affairs of statecraft, for the very policies
          that the president advocates, the interest is
          largely perfunctory, maintained out of a sense of
          duty and dropped with a sigh of relief.
               That reaction may not be as deplorable as it
(70)   seems. Pick up your newspaper, read the
          Congressional Record, run over in your mind the
          “issues" of a campaign, and then ask yourself
          whether the average man is entirely to blame
          because he refuses to take the politician at his
(75)   own rhetorical valuation. If men find statecraft
          uninteresting, may it not be that statecraft is
          uninteresting? I have a more or less professional
          interest in public affairs; that is to say, I have
          had opportunity to look at politics from the
(80)   point of view of the man who is trying to get the
          attention of people in order to carry through
          some reform. At first it was a hard confession to
          make, but the more I saw of politics at first-
          hand, the more I respected the indifference of
(85)   the public. There was something monotonously
          trivial and irrelevant about our reformist
          enthusiasm, and there was an appalling justice
          in that half-conscious criticism which refuses to
          place politics among the genuine, creative
(90)   activities of men. Science was valid, art was valid,
          the poorest grubber in a laboratory was engaged
          in a real labor, anyone who had found
          expression in some beautiful object was truly
          centered. But politics was a personal drama
(95)   without meaning, or a vague abstraction without

According to the passage, how frequently do public figures understand the truth about the public's indifference?

The best answer is NOT A because the author states that moments of understanding are “rare.”

The best answer is NOT B because, again, the author states that the truth is rarely understood.

The best answer is C because the author states that “there comes a time when even the reformer is compelled to face the fairly widespread suspicion of the average man that politics is an exhibition in which there is much ado about nothing. But such moments of illumination are rare” (lines 19-20).

The best answer is NOT D because, once again, the author states that the truth is rarely understood.

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Question ID: 1170