Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Why some people should NOT vote

I was an editorials editor on my daily college newspaper at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the 1980s, and one of my daily jobs was to write one of the two staff editorials every day and edit the other. Among my least fond memories of that experiences was having, before every election, to write the obligatory editorial on why everyone should vote.

These platitude-laden editorials always had a sort of boilerplate feel. You just sat there, writing, feeling like someone in whatever department it was in Orwell's 1984 that churned out the formula lyrics for songs intended for the proles.

In fact, I have finally decided that, not only were these editorials meaningless, they were wholly mistaken in their advice.

I thought about all of this meaningless "get out the vote" rhetoric that I used to write and that we we now hear every election as I listened to an interview on NPR with a young woman in Colorado who NPR has apparently been checking in with over the last week or so. The young lady in question harbors all of the clichéd political attitudes (I say "attitudes" rather than "beliefs" because they are not substantive enough to count as the latter) popular today.

And because her attitudes are all essentially clichés, she is still deciding--as of this morning--who to vote for. She was voting for the democratic Senate candidate because he will stand up for her reproductive rights. But now she has been talking about relatives of hers from the rural part of the state. And so it goes, back and forth, like a shuttlecock in a bad badminton game.

The girl clearly has no clue what she believes, has no central guiding principles about culture or society, and has trouble articulating herself without the obligatory "likes" and "you knows."

And then I was watching TV last night and they were interviewing people on the street and asking them basic questions about who their senators and representatives are. Of course, most of the respondents were completely at a loss to say who their elected lawmakers were or even the most basic things about the current civic state of the country.

So I finally just said to myself: "There are some people who should not vote."

In fact, all people like this young lady or these people in the street who don't know basic things about our society should be told, as George F. Will said a few years ago, "Keep your ignorance to yourself." There are some people who quite simply should avoid voting altogether.

If you don't have a clue who is on the ballot, if you have listened to all the rhetoric from both sides and still can't make a determination, if you are morally rudderless and intellectually empty, STAY HOME. DO NOT VOTE.

If you are one of these people, then simply spare the rest of us and DO NOT GO TO THE POLLS.

I know this goes against all the hackneyed rhetoric everyone is hearing today, but its something that needs to be said. It's a hard truth, and some people don't want to hear it in our mindlessly egalitarian society, but it's true.

Ignorance is not a civic virtue, nor is lack of basic thinking skills, nor is an impoverishment of moral vision. They are bad things and those who suffer from them should not perpetrate them on the rest of us.

But, of course, none of the people who suffer from these things will follow this advice, precisely because they suffer from these things. It would take a person with these virtues to notice that they did not have them, and so no one who lacks them will know that they do.

This is the sorry condition of our society: those who lack virtue are precisely the people who will never realize that they do.

So we will all watch the results of the polls tonight knowing that many, perhaps most of those who are determining our future are completely unqualified to do it. . But it will be the decision. And so there you are.

Have a happy day.


Anonymous said...

Yes, but without the ignorant Nancy Pelosi would be tending her vineyards and fighting unions who want to unionize all of her varied businesses. Here's a free phone, vote Democrat.

solarity said...

Could not agree more with the silliness of all the predictable "get out and do your civic duty" nonsense. If you have no real understanding of the issues on which you are casting a decision, don't participate. To do so is to degrade the decisions of all those who do care and do understand the candidates and issues.

As a conservative I understand that the central premise of the democrats is to use the power of government to buy various constituencies including the poor, uninformed and downtrodden. I am offended by folks that enter the voting booth and cast a vote based on the likelihood of "getting something" from government. As a lifelong republican voter I have never knowingly "gotten something" for my vote beyond the satisfaction of voting for policies I support.

As an extension of your point, I believe that it is good practice to refrain from voting in non-partisan elections where you know nothing about the candidates except for their name. Judges for example, are best elected by the folks who practice in front of them or appear in their courts. Voting based on name only leads to anomalous random outcomes which undermines good democracy. FWIW.