Monday, October 13, 2008

Are you too stupid to vote?

The simple answer, no.

Being among those that educate themselves about the issues and the candidates, I've often been annoyed by the uneducated voters, but I would never say that is a reason that they shouldn't be allowed to vote.

I've long felt that voting should be a right to all American citizens, and it shouldn't be taken from anyone for any reason. The government feels differently.

First of all, you have to register before you're allowed to vote. I think this process should be done away with altogether. Registering should be a means of party affiliation, and nothing more. Citizens who do not register should be allowed to vote, though on a non-partisan ballot (essentially the same ballot that those of us who are registered third party would see - the difference would be in the primary, and not in the general). Actually, in that regard, I'd like to see partisanship done away with altogether, even in the primary elections, as the best choice should be an option during the entire process, regardless of party affiliation.

Second, felons have no right to vote, unless they are more than five years after completion of their sentences (this is on a state by state basis, and may not be true in all jurisdictions). This makes no sense either, as many felons are guilty of crimes that may not be crimes under the policies of the candidates they may want to vote in. It's ingrained in the history of this country - criminals and refugees formed this country. We need to let current criminals vote as well. They are no more of a risk at the polls than the other 80% of uninformed voters that vote anyway.

Third, and this is what offends me the most, it's been suggested that uninformed voters have no place at the polls - furthermore that a political test should be required before people are allowed to vote. This was most recently highlighted in a 20/20 segment. Banning uninformed voters, while it may lead to better overall leadership, would bar roughly 70% of the voting public from the polls. That is not a democracy. That is an elitist government, with decisions made only by the chosen few.

I've always felt that voting should be a right and not a privilege. The issue is not the voters - it's the voter education. The voters should never be held at fault for their lack of education - the educational system should be held at fault - and I'm not just talking grade school here - I'm talking about the media-driven voter education. While media outlets only highlight the talking points of either candidate, and refuse to remain non-partisan, no proper voter education can occur.

During the primary elections, all candidates should be given equal air time, regardless of party affiliation or popularity. During the general election, all candidates should be allowed into the debates, not just the two major party candidates.

The public has a right to be informed. More information and less spewing of lies or partisan politics would greatly benefit the average American. Candidates that better represent the country we all love so dearly should be known as well as the major candidates.

Bottom line is that every American citizen should have the RIGHT to vote, and the media is to blame for not educating the American public on all of the choices out there.


StrebeSi said...

Yes, you shouldn't have to register. But then preventing voter fraud will become difficult.

If uneducated voters are not allowed to vote, yet it will lead to better leadership, what is the issue? Preserving a government because we like the name.

The first amendment specifically says that government has no control over private media. To force equal air time would be government control, and will give enormous power to the party in power.

This post says a lot about what should be done, but it's not more informative than somebody saying African Americans should reject racial stereotypes if they don't want to be stereotyped.

StrebeSi said...

Ok, I feel a need to clarify. Yes, I do agree with many things on your post, especially criminal voting.


The government has no control of the Media. This is an unfortunate fact because it means that we are, as Mark Twain would put it, misinformed.

The problem is a relatively recent one, since now all of the media outlets are controlled by large corporations. If you want some conspiracy theories that result from this, check out Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing of Consent.

But I haven't addressed the issue. The issue isn't with government control, it's about the definition of control.

The correct question to ask is this: What is the difference between a government, and a sufficiently large corporation? Yes, corporations do not exercise the same domains as do governments, because they have the governments to deal with many of the political issues.

The difference between small corporations competing for journalism, and a group of large corporations sharing journalism equally is that the only journalism that gets to us is what will sell, and, that, coincidentally, happens to be the same journalism that appears everywhere across the nation.

If, instead, we have small journalistic companies competing for buyers, then, eventually, because of the Microsoft/New York Times/Apple Ipods & Iphones/Tissue paper effect, only the most commonly known journalism companies will become nationally regarded, out-competing all of the smaller journalistic companies.
This is made possible because of the low price of information dissemination (which is basically nothing, now that the internet is here).

And, because of the internet, we now have a couple hundred bloggers that are nationally famous, often read, and frequently quoted. Their opinions we hear most often, and the lesser known bloggers are rarely referred to, read, and considered. Yes, the system does keep a considerable amount of flow, new bloggers replace outdated views, but, for the most part, you rarely hear the voices of the least popular.

Because we have no system for ensuring that information is equally disseminated, we now have a system where selected information is cheaply disseminated, and that is what sells.

But the government has no place in the media.