Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Right To Be Stupid

Who said this? Ten points for the correct answer.

The unassailable right to vote is the core principle of any democracy. And people have the right to cast their ballot for whomever they want, for good reasons, for bad reasons, or for no reason at all. Let’s face it, we as a nation are horribly uninformed when it comes to politics. Approximately one-third of the people in this country, people of voting age, couldn’t tell you the name of our current Vice-President. Now, admittedly, some of us like to block it out, but even so, only two in five adult Americans know we have three branches of government and Mr. Feldcamp expects his employees to actually know the political issues of the day? Well, today our news programs consist solely of sensational headlines and sound bites. People forego newspapers for the Internet where instead of relying on credentialed journalists, they turn to these bloggers, sort of entry level life forms who have intellectually even yet to emerge from the primordial ooze. This is how we’ve gotten the elected officials we’ve gotten. We’ve never really cared about issues. We’re more concerned about how Hillary looks in a pants suit and whether Barack can bowl. We don’t always go for the best or the brightest; we elect the guy we’d most like to have a beer with or the gal we’d most like to feel up in the back of the car. Now, I certainly wouldn’t pick my airline pilot that way or my accountant or my doctor, but for my President, so often it’s “give me the blue collar, lunch bucket, good ole boy who fits in best at the pancake breakfast." The problem with Mr. Feldcamp, and forgive me, I hate to say this about anybody, is he’s an elitist. … The message is we vote for who we like, it’s as simple as that, we don’t need to have a reason. It’s as simple as that. The Founding Fathers did not form a meritocracy; this is a democracy. We can be as stupid as we choose. We’re Americans. We’re as simple as that.

Now aside from that cheap shot about bloggers, Alan is making an important point here. Why don’t we care more about our national or state or local leaders? Why do we allow corruption, immorality, inefficiency, and stupidity to range unchecked across our political landscape? I’m really asking the question here, because I’m as guilty as anyone. Is it too boring, or too time consuming, or too scary to actually try to understand the issues and vote intelligently on them? I got engaged in this campaign and I read (yes, Alan, I did) newspapers, and watched (all) the debates and (some parts of) the conventions. I looked at news shows until I understood who was beating what drum, and I figured out who was liberal and who was conservative on the Internet and spent some time reading both sides, and you know what, I found I actually could understand most of what was going on and who stood for what and who was promising what and how they proposed acting on those promises. And—light bulb moment—it wasn’t all that hard! So, although the right to be stupid is not prohibited by our Constitution, it feels quite refreshing to feel smart for a change.


Amy said...

Although I feel asleep before I could watch it, this sounds like the words of Alan Shore. My favorite pretend lawyer.

Sue Jacquette said...

Here, here! Great post! I think part of the reason I blog is because I'm amazed at how many people don't understand the basic issues and I want to get at least my friends to think about these things before voting.

I think that quote was from Gauguin?

Meredith said...

Ten points, Sue! Sorry, Amy.