Okay, my headline is perhaps a bit misleading. Voting is important, and a great deal of what should be deciding the direction of this country. But here's my issue; most people believe it their patriotic duty to vote, regardless of their knowledge of politics, of history, of economics, even of what issues are at stake.
I've said it before, but let me say it again. Voting does NOT equal freedom. The right to vote does NOT mean you live in a free country. In most dictatorships, the citizens are given the right to vote; the ruling party merely decides ahead of time who you will be allowed to vote for. Anyone with a touch of cynicism will have a hard time finding that different from our current system. Anyone without a touch of cynicism is either inhaling some really exotic drugs, or not yet old enough to write their name in cursive letters.
The right to vote does NOT in any shape, form, or fashion mean that you are free. Contrary to what you have been told (or are likely to tell me), in the history of this country, very few people died to give you the right to vote. Many thousands died to give you freedom, a freedom most people are actively throwing away with every ballot cast. You CAN vote for freedom. But most people do not. Most don't even know how. (I'll give you a hint - it's not by voting for the candidate who promises you the most free stuff, or even for this guy, though at least he's honest)
Most people have a decided lack of interest in politics. I more than understand this; I sympathize, perhaps even admire this. I can't break away, myself. But at times, I sure wish I could. But yet these same people believe they have a patriotic obligation to vote. In essence, they are actively participating in a system they neither understand nor wish to be engaged in.
Voting is not an inalienable right, nor was it ever intended to be. But we have pushed ever harder for universal suffrage as a means to promote... Something or other. Fairness, I guess. But competence is more fundamental to true progress than this false sense of equality. You wouldn't say the best way to solve the medical crisis would be to declare everybody a doctor, would you? Admittedly, it would make prescriptions really fun. In medicine, you want a certain level of competence. And yet, isn't deciding the fate of a country as important as being a doctor?
Most people base their vote on feelings, party lines, and the oratory of the candidates. This is about as effective as betting on BasketBall Teams based on who has the best smiles in the starting line-up.
I think rather than making it easier to vote, we ought to make it much, much harder. Yes, this would mean far fewer votes would be cast. But it would also mean only the competent people who actually care would be making these decisions. Open to anyone, but you have to pass the following tests:
1. Speak English - I hate the English language, but it is the primary language of this country, and should remain so. If you can't read it, learn to.
2. Know basic economic principles - if you've never studied Austrian Economics, you might be suckered in by the governmental sleight-of-hand approach increasingly used for the last seventy years or so. And chances are you were taught the Keynesian Bullshit in college.
3. Know the voting record of every candidate you vote for. Don't know what Barack Obama voted for? (hint - he voted to fund the Iraq war every time it came up) That should be a problem. If the candidate is an incumbent, it should have say, 10 major votes that he/she cast in the last term. If you get 8 of 10 right, your vote for him/her counts. Otherwise, you're effectively voting in the best haircut, which is not really the best method. Well, not always.
4. Have read the Constitution. If you don't know what's in it, and what is most certainly not, then you have no real basis for knowing whether the president is doing his job (he's not), or whether congress is doing their jobs (they're not), or whether the government has grown beyond its intended scope (think Rosie O'Donnell in a size 2 dress).
5. Know some basic history. If you don't know shit about the Roman Empire (watching "Gladiator" doesn't count!), if you can't name any founding fathers not appearing on our currency, if you don't know why we fought the civil war (not about slavery), why we got into WWI and WWII, why Korea and Vietnam and Iraq I and II were unconstitutional, if you don't know what the Federal Reserve is or does... You really should be looking these things up before you vote.
Is this really too much to ask? I know, most of you will say it is. Relax. I'm not in charge. And if I were, I would totally go with a dictatorship anyway. Rather than appeal to intelligence, decency, and freedom, I'd probably have a different platform, largely based on eliminating Reality TV.
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