Don’t Vote

“Get out the vote” campaigns are a deplorable thing. Where is the virtue in compelling the unthinking reality-TV-watching watching masses that they should play a vital role in shaping the course of our democracy? It frightens me to think that there may be people voting in greater numbers because they have been compelled to do so by the likes of the people in charge of MTV, or by the likes of their peers in college who seem to think voting is “cool.” And I don’t want these people contributing to the debate. I want intelligent and informed citizens voting because they have seriously weighed the costs and benefits of a particular candidate. A voter should not be easily dazzled by clever-but-hollow turns of phrase, or the excitement of an expensive campaign ad or rally. But I fear that this is what has happened. Those who have the ability and resources to most effectively appeal to the most basic human instincts and drives and to rely upon simple and narrow ideas are most adequately geared towards winning elections. No longer are a politician’s credentials, eloquence or policies the primary contributer to their value to the electorate. Instead we consider things like their “likability,” indiscretions in their sexual lives and the cost of their haircuts. And somehow it has be?come better for a candidate to be average, rather than great. George W. Bush “won” two elections by riding on images of himself clearing brush at his ranch and his tendency to use simple, if mispronounced, words. We would never expect a crowd to be moved to silence by the power of his diction. We would never expect him to write his own speeches. But this criticism expands well beyond a mere panning of George Bush. There is something far more troubling at work. If our country were functioning correctly we couldn’t possibly have twice-elected such a man as president. If our country were functioning correctly than it is now, the man would have been long-ago removed through impeachment. But maddeningly, frighteningly, puzzlingly he has not. Despite historically unparalleled hatred for this president, he remains largely untouched: his appointments are confirmed; his war continues … And I blame the electorate. Americans have sacrificed their duty to elect sensible people to office, and to hold those people accountable when they break their promises. The ability and desire to meaningfully consider a candidate, examine his positions and take time to question and verify things they claim has given way to laziness, and acceptance of what have now become the status quo standards of corruption and deceit. And if we don’t reverse this we cannot expect the state of things to improve. This means not more voting, but better voting. It means letting those who have the inclination to vote to do so, rather than encouraging the participation of all. If you’re unwilling or unable educate yourself, question your leaders and vote with intelligent, reasoned thought then you have no place participating in government at all. Don’t vote.