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Voting in America August 7, 2010

Posted by Joe in People, Politics.

A couple of days ago, I went to the polls to cast my ballot in our local elections and state-wide primaries. I view voting as a civic duty and responsibility. Every citizen has the right, nay the obligation, to help select the person that he believes will best represent his beliefs and interests in our great republic. If you consciously choose not to exercise that right, you are forfeiting a powerful opportunity to help shape our democracy. But that’s another great thing about out country: it’s your choice. You can choose to sit on the sidelines if you wish.

An Imperfect System

Winston Churchill once said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947). I’d have to agree with that sentiment. The are lots of imperfections in our system of government. You don’t have to look far to recognize them.

For example, consider one person, one vote.

In every election there are well-informed people who study the issues and the candidates, who carefully considered the specifics and the larger picture, and finally reach a carefully formed conclusion on who they believes is the right person for the job. They take their civic duties seriously.

On the over hand, in every election there are people who enter the polls that have never heard of the candidate’s name before. They haven’t studied the issues; they are making their selections based solely on the name of the candidates. “I’m not voting for that Williams fellow; he’s probably kin to that kid in sixth grade that stole my lunch money.” Or, “Gomez sounds like a foreigner to me; he should go home.” Or equally bad, they make their selections based on race, or gender, or something else that has no relevancy.

Yet in both of these cases, the decisions of the votes of those individuals carry the exact same weight when voting level is pulled. The person who has carefully weighed the factors has the same impact on the election as the one who make his choice without any regard to the issues.

Is that good? Is that what our founding fathers intended? Not really, yet on some level it is.

A Hope Continued

How can anyone except for the person casting the ballot know how and why he is voting. It can’t be done. And even if it could be done, who would set up the commission to determine who has a right to vote and who doesn’t? The voters? Elected politicians? I don’t think so.

I wouldn’t want anyone telling me that my vote would carry more or less weight than another due to the way they perceive my decision-making and consideration of the issues. That’s not democracy. That’s the facade. It’s only a veneer of democracy with tyranny lurking just beneath the surface.

So even though my vote may be cancelled out by someone who’s never heard of a candidate, I’ll carry on making my decisions. I’ll keep hoping that the majority of people will study the issues before casting their ballots and that this country will be led by the individuals we’ve consciously and intentionally elected.