My brothers Zane and Richard have debated with me on almost a daily basis since we were old enough to talk. So when I heard Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman didn’t cast a vote in 28 years I knew that Zane and I would dissect the subject from every angle.
My brothers are not shallow, lazy people that use the “agree to disagree” statement that most morons use to avoid doing their homework. We dive deep and search high and low for the facts. This has worked well for us over the years and allowed us to realize how many people are making decisions, like the Taliban, based on outright lies.
My position on voting is that it is the duty of all Americans to take the time to learn about the issues. As is often the case, the e-mail response from my brother Zane took the debate in a new and interesting direction, so I thought that I would share it with you.
I am glad that Meg Whitman was honest enough with herself not to vote during those 28 years until she had time to become more politically knowledgeable. I wish that more people would be that honest. Today’s popular obsession with “get out the vote” drives is counterproductive to good democracy and is partially to blame for why Sacramento is currently so dysfunctional. Democracies do well when there are informed voters, with “informed” being the key word. They do poorly when voters are uninformed since this makes it easier for them to be manipulated. Special interest groups love it when voters blindly vote the way others tell them to. One of our nation’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, once said “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
Today many Americans cannot be trusted. Many of them are pressured by others to vote even when they know in their hearts that they do not have a clue about anything they are voting on. They vote even though they know as little about the candidates for governor as they do about the candidates for judges. When asked their reasons for picking one candidate over the other, their answers will seem ridiculous because they are. They will say things such as I voted for the candidate because “I think I heard of him before” or “I liked her name.”
A classic example of the uninformed deciding an election just took place in South Carolina. A gentleman by the name of Alvin Greene recently got 59 percent of the vote over the party-endorsed candidate in securing the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate race this coming November. What makes his election so amazing is that polls show that voters knew nothing about him. How could they when this unemployed loner, who lives with his parents, did absolutely no campaigning at all? No speeches, no appearances, no literature, no bumper stickers, no staff, no platform; totally and completely nothing. The people that voted for him had no idea that he was involuntarily discharged from both the Army and the Air Force and that he was and still is facing obscenity charges. His incoherent ramblings to the press (a YouTube comic sensation) after his victory only completed the joke.
How could such a thing happen? An article in Time magazine states that “the most likely” explanation for his victory was that “Greene got lucky. His name appeared first on the ballot and may have had a more dulcet-sounding tone to it.” Did you get that? They voted for him because of ballot placement and the sound of his name. Sadly this is how many voters regularly select their candidates. The only reason that Mr. Greene stands out is because he is so obviously unqualified. The fact that other candidates elected this way are more qualified, only lessens the damage caused to our democracy when the uninformed decide too many of our elections.
By all accounts Meg Whitman is an intelligent, well-educated workaholic. In directing her energies in building a high-tech company from a staff of 11 to a world class multi-billion dollar business that made her the richest self-made business woman on the planet, it is not hard to imagine that she did not have the time until recent years to focus on paying attention to politics. When asked why she did not vote during those years she answered “it was the right thing to do.” I say thank you Meg Whitman for not voting. Thank you for not canceling out the vote of another person more informed. Thank you for understanding what democracy is really about.
The fact that she was wise enough and honest enough to know when she should not vote is a good example that I wish others would follow. There should be public service announcements that tell voters “please don’t vote if you don’t know. Get informed.”
My brother makes a sound argument. At first I chided Meg Whitman for not finding the time to educate herself and voting. However, since I am not a billionaire, I believing making a billion dollars could be very time consuming and am glad she did not cancel out my vote.
David Alsabery is trying every day to be an educated voter and all around nice guy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.