Informed voting

I read an article this morning that detailed Mike Rowe’s response to one of his fans who wrote to him requesting that Rowe encourage his fans to go out and vote.

Can you please encourage your huge following to go out and vote this election? I would never impose on you by asking you to advocate one politician over another, but I do feel this election could really use your help. I know that there are many people out there who feel like there is nothing they can do. Please try to use your gifts to make them see that they can do something – that their vote counts.”

cartoonMike Rowe’s response was unusual – and one with which I agree 100 percent. Anyone who has read my rants about Generation Stupid and political ignorance knows I am a big advocate of being informed, doing one’s research, and analyzing the information one receives.

Voting is not a “civic duty,” although some have tried to couch it as such. You have no duty to cast a vote for someone whose positions you may know nothing about, or whom you wouldn’t trust to lead this country, merely because that’s whom the major political parties of this nation have put forth. You have no obligation to help elect someone to lead this nation, in whom you have no confidence, but whom some celebrity, who has no understanding of economics, foreign policy, national security, or the military, has encouraged you to oppose or support.

Your only obligation is to exercise your rights responsibly, because your vote does matter, and it does affect everyone around you.

A few weeks ago, during the first presidential debate, I lost my shit on social media after hearing one of the candidates claim that we pay 73 percent of NATO.

WE. DO. NOT. PAY. 73. PERCENT. OF. FUCKING. NATO. If you don’t know how NATO fucking works, shut your stupid fucking face up! OMG!!!

I can’t watch this. Seriously. It’s making my head explode.

natoNow, I didn’t watch the rest of the debate. I merely walked in from dinner and heard that portion. However, several of my friends tried to justify the comment – one with “But… but… but… Hillary lies more,” and the other with a graphic that details our total defense spending compared to that of the other NATO allies combined.

I had to patiently explain that this has nothing to do with our contribution to the alliance. This is a comparison of our own defense budget compared to the other NATO nations. It’s what we spend on our OWN defense, and it should be a lot. We’re much bigger than our NATO allies.

Now, there is a NATO defense spending benchmark that the alliance encourages each member to reach – that’s 2 percent of their Gross National Product. Most members don’t come close to spending that much on their own defenses, and ostensibly it’s correct that they would rely on the strongest, biggest alliance member – the United States – to defend them should the shit hit the fan. That’s a valid concern, given that we are under an obligation to abide by the treaty and the collective security guarantee. But to claim we contribute 73 percent to NATO is ludicrous!

It’s an indication of just how ignorant the candidate is on issues pertaining to our most significant alliance, but it’s also an indication of just how ignorant some voters are about those same issues. A simple Google search isn’t enough. The Internet doesn’t always provide the correct answer to your question. Further research is needed.

And in a world made up of memes, the commitment to doing that research and being fully informed on issues of importance in this election is critical.

That was essentially Mike Rowe’s reply.

I also share your concern for our country, and agree wholeheartedly that every vote counts. However, I’m afraid I can’t encourage millions of people whom I’ve never met to just run out and cast a ballot, simply because they have the right to vote. That would be like encouraging everyone to buy an AR-15, simply because they have the right to bear arms. I would need to know a few things about them before offering that kind of encouragement. For instance, do they know how to care for a weapon? Can they afford the cost of the weapon? Do they have a history of violence? Are they mentally stable? In short, are they responsible citizens?

Casting a ballot is not so different. It’s an important right that we all share, and one that impacts our society in dramatic fashion. But it’s one thing to respect and acknowledge our collective rights, and quite another thing to affirmatively encourage people I’ve never met to exercise them. And yet, my friends in Hollywood do that very thing, and they’re at it again.

Every four years, celebrities and movie stars look earnestly into the camera and tell the country to “get out and vote.” They tell us it’s our “most important civic duty,” and they speak as if the very act of casting a ballot is more important than the outcome of the election. This strikes me as somewhat hysterical. Does anyone actually believe that Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ed Norton would encourage the “masses” to vote, if they believed the “masses” would elect Donald Trump?

Regardless of their political agenda, my celebrity pals are fundamentally mistaken about our “civic duty” to vote. There is simply no such thing. Voting is a right, not a duty, and not a moral obligation. Like all rights, the right to vote comes with some responsibilities, but lets face it – the bar is not set very high. If you believe aliens from another planet walk among us, you are welcome at the polls. If you believe the world is flat, and the moon landing was completely staged, you are invited to cast a ballot. Astrologists, racists, ghost-hunters, sexists, and people who rely upon a Magic 8 Ball to determine their daily wardrobe are all allowed to participate. In fact, and to your point, they’re encouraged.

Some of my friends took issue with some of what Mike Rowe said. According to my friend, the idea of not encouraging everyone to vote because they aren’t smart or informed enough is elitist snobbery at its finest. This friend, then, somehow decided from Rowe’s words that it’s a Republican versus Democrat issue, and pointed to the fact that Republican celebrities are also engaged in “get out the vote” campaigns as well.

My friend also agrees with the responsibly exercising one’s gun rights idea, but claims that this contradicts Mike Rowe’s logical, principled stance of not encouraging those who are ignorant about guns to own one without training to refusing to encourage more liberals to vote. I find that, in and of itself, to be interesting projection. Rowe didn’t mention anything about not encouraging liberals to vote. My friend merely took it as such.

Fact is that Mike Rowe didn’t mention for whom he was voting, didn’t focus on the liberal/Democrat side as being more guilty than the Republican/conservative side (although, he mentioned more liberal celebrities, probably because there is a much greater number of liberals in Hollywood than there is conservatives), and didn’t advocate depriving ignorant people of their rights.

He merely said that he refuses to encourage people who barely know how our government functions to cast uninformed ballots, because everyone’s vote counts. Everyone’s. Republican, Democrat, informed, and barely intellectually functioning.

Rowe doesn’t encourage one side of the political aisle over another, but rather advocates that every single voter get informed by reading a variety of sources to inform their worldview.

“Spend a few hours every week studying American history, human nature, and economic theory. Start with “Economics in One Lesson.” Then try Keynes. Then Hayek. Then Marx. Then Hegel. Develop a worldview that you can articulate as well as defend. Test your theory with people who disagree with you. Debate. Argue. Adjust your philosophy as necessary. Then, when the next election comes around, cast a vote for the candidate whose worldview seems most in line with your own.”

Since when is being informed about something as important as deciding the future of our country “elitist snobbery?”

Since when is encouraging a well-rounded education and responsible exercise of a right a “personal intelligence test?”

No. Voting is a right, and every right needs to be practiced in a responsible manner. Rowe does compare such responsibility to gun ownership. He doesn’t advocate depriving people of their right to keep and bear arms if they’re not well versed in firearms and their safe usage, but he rightfully says that he refuses to encourage such behavior.

We all should.

Voting is similar. Encouraging people who can’t name the current Vice President of the United States to cast a vote for the future President is ridiculous.

The future of our nation is too important to trust to people who will vote for a candidate because it’s a vaginal American’s turn in the White House, or because “LOCK HER UP!” or because “THIS IS MY PROTEST VOTE!” This is how we wound up with the current crop of candidates whom very few Americans like, but are too afraid to shun, because the other person might win.

Steer clear of those who encourage you to cast an uninformed vote. Chances are they’re hoping to scare you into voting for their choice, because they’re a celebrity… because they made a glossy, inventive PSA… because they have a neat slogan. Unless they’re also encouraging you to get informed about the issues, instead of just trying to scare you because “that evil, murdering bitch” or that “boorish, racist, misogynist swine” could get into the White House, back away. Slowly.

So, no. I don’t encourage everyone to vote. I refuse to scare people into casting a ballot without understanding the issues at hand, because SHE might win.

Voting is too important a right to be practiced without personal responsibility.

Your ballot is your vote of confidence that the person you choose to lead this country will do his or her job, will respect the Constitution and faithfully execute the laws of this land, and understands his or her role in the leadership of the biggest, most significant, most powerful country in the world.

If you cannot or will not understand the issues at stake and are merely planning to cast your vote because some celebutard scared you into irrational terror of the other side winning, I would encourage you to get informed via something other than Internet memes and two-minute TV commercials, or stay the hell home!

9 responses

  1. “According to my friend, the idea of not encouraging everyone to vote because they aren’t smart or informed enough is elitist snobbery at its finest.”

    Yeah but then again isn’t this like encouraging the young/stupid/irresponsible not to reproduce….technically it’s their right, but we hope they don’t.

    Snobbery has a point, in some instances.

    Like

    1. I just don’t think it’s “snobby” to advocate for an educated electorate.

      Like

      1. Well technically it’s not, I guess I meant that more as a joke.

        I remember during the California Gubernatorial debate of 2006 it became a real freak show. We had Mr. Schwarzenegger (a serious contender), Gary Coleman, Larry Flynn, a porn star, and so on….

        One of our friends mentioned that he hated the race and how it was going, so he put in a vote for Gary Coleman to “throw away” a vote. I never really got why he did that; just to keep up with the habit of voting, I suppose.

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  2. Something to bear in mind, always: The political elite use the vote totals — specifically, the percentage of eligible voters who actually cast ballots — as an argument for their “mandate to govern.” If you believe that the most important thing is not that your preferred candidate win, but rather that the elite be deprived of that appearance of a mandate, withholding your vote might be the most patriotic thing you could do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point there as well!

      Like

    2. You’ll hear “them” complain about low voter turnout, but they will never, ever claim that the low turnout has deprived them of a mandate.

      It would be up to us to make such a point, were it to happen.

      And I am not sure what they do/think/pretend-to-think if 50 percent of registered voters vote, but half of them don’t mark the ballot for a specific race or ballot issue.

      Of course, a lot of registered voters are probably old registration dross that should just be purged from the rolls (dead people, people who moved away years ago, etc.) A significant number of voters in precincts I used to walk weren’t at those addresses any more. So a “low turnout” has multiple causes. And it doesn’t control for people who don’t even register to vote; if half who could vote don’t even register, then *automatically* real turnout is less than fifty percent, but no one measures that. [Note: I know I haven’t even accounted for fraudulently cast votes.]

      As an aside, even if one is too disgusted to vote for the Big Race in some year’s election, it’s usually worthwhile to go vote if only to vote “no” on initiatives (if you have to guess, that’s usually the best vote; however I do try to think about it and there are two here I will vote “yes” on). I know Nicki is planning to vote on the downticket stuff, so this isn’t addressed to her, but it’s a general comment.

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  3. Rowe didn’t mention anything about not encouraging liberals to vote. My friend merely took it as such.

    Apparently your friend is at least subliminally aware that liberals are either evil or stupid.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve long been an advocate of testing to qualify before being allowed to vote. Simple stuff, such as: “Who’s the vice president?” “Name one of the three branches.” “Name one of the justices.” Simple stuff. Probably makes me a racist, though.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s not your duty to vote. It’s your duty to know what you’re voting for.

    Liked by 1 person

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