Today’s election day, but I already voted absentee — have been doing that for years. I never have understood why anyone would say they don’t have time to vote. But as I have blogged before, I would just as soon people who don’t follow the issues and don’t think they have time for it not bother.
On the other hand, we might be better off if more citizens kept abreast of the issues and were ready to hold politicians’ feet to the fire and were not as susceptible to their lies or half-truths through their own ignorance.
As it stands now, most candidates on the state and national level just raise money, get their mindless talking points and ready sound bites down and that’s it. Few people seem to have patience or interest for debates and even when they do, the so-called debates still usually produce platitudes and sound bites. A true debate format is seldom if ever used. But it would be refreshing to hear one, with each candidate having to present his or her case backed up by some evidence and then be able to rebut his or her opponent’s case.
The question and answer so-called debate form usually amounts to either loaded or softball questions. The candidate is either made to answer a question that makes him or her out to be in the wrong no matter how answered or he or she is thrown a softball (Larry King like) that sets the candidate up to look good.
If more people kept up on the issues maybe they would not be so shocked when things went to hell. I think the Tea Party sounds for the most part like a bunch of folks who never paid attention and then said: how did this happen? It happened because you were asleep at the switch and did not make your feelings known via the ballot box.
Then there are those who voted once but their candidate did not win, so they lost interest. If the only reason you see for voting is to see your candidate win, I think you’re missing the point. You have no control how others will vote (unless you go around convincing people yourself), but chances are there are many other like-minded folks around and all of your votes together make a statement, even if your candidate or ballot issue does not come out ahead.
If you are in a small minority, you do have an uphill battle and maybe no chance to win, but as it stands now since only a fraction of eligible voters even bother to cast a ballot, candidates know they do not have to present cogent arguments. They only have to preach to the choir or say the things that will make sure the extremists on the right or left will vote, since for some reason they are the most likely ones to vote.
If politicians knew they had to persuade rational and objective-minded voters, especially those in the broad middle ground, we might get a different more reasonable and more positively effective type candidate.
But while I wished more of the electorate would vote, I think that better than get out the vote programs would be to provide a new emphasis on civics in the schools.
As a free nation, whose citizens are allowed to vote, we as a whole pretty much deserve what we get and have to suffer the consequences.
For those of us who do pay attention and vote, it is not our fault. Sometimes I am in circles where I feel almost ashamed that I keep up with the issues and try to look at them in an objective manner. But I shouldn’t.
I do not favor the idea of a legal requirement for citizens to vote, as is the case in Australia, though.
ADD 1: Well, on second thought, maybe it isn’t so easy to vote or maybe one should make sure to vote absentee rather than in person. Just saw a video and story about California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger having his ballot rejected because it appeared he had voted for two opposing candidates in the primary. Just like a politician, trying to have it both ways or like the Democrats in Chicago used to say: “vote early and vote often”.