Ignorant people voting?

     LZ writes another shocking article titled, “Don’t Let Ignorant People Vote,” in April of 2011. I find that this topic is only going to become increasingly topical, and how he forms his argument I also find relevant to class discussion. He begins this article asking (literally, the first sentence), “Should ignorant people be allowed to vote?” but then follows it reassuring this question is not just for shock value but rather to give pause. Admittedly, this is a question I asked myself in the past two presidential elections.

     Like LZ, I am often stunned and confused by people who know nothing about politics AND who take no time nor make no effort to understand any of the topics. Many, both young and old, simply vote along party lines or based on superficial qualities…. even casting a vote for who a majority of their friends seem to support. While this is appalling, should they be denied the opportunity all together? First instinct tells me that no, they should not be disallowed their vote; I mean, isn’t democracy founded on public participation and the electoral process?

     I’m not entirely sure if the “solution” that LZ suggest, assuming it’s supported by many with similar frustrations with the ignorant, is another use of his sarcasm, shock value, or the like… perhaps this is a solution he actually supports. What can fix this “hiccup in our political system,” you ask? Taking a test, similar to those who seek citizenship in America, might force those who want to participate into taking more of an effort than just pushing a button on a screen on voting day. Or….. it might significantly lower the percentage of people who actually vote, dismissing this test as a “hassle.” I for one wouldn’t really like to take a test in order to cast a vote, and frankly I consider this more of an infringement on our rights than a solution at all.

     Another strong point made in the article is that much of contemporary campaign tactics are no longer aimed at the (non-ignorant) middle of the country, but rather those who are easily misled or manipulated. For example, instead of highlighting the more “weighty” issues and political platforms, phrases like “Obamacare” and “War on Unions” are broadcasted over and over again. These phrases are said by LZ to pander to the people who frankly can’t explain what Congress or the President does, but hey, it’s catchy right? While I understand completely where LZ and others who feel similar are coming from, I don’t know if the political campaigns, PR people, and campaign advisors are really at fault. Publicists largely respond to what the public wants and will most react too… maybe if us, the voters, didn’t seem to be so persuaded by cheap marketing tactics these phrases would no longer garner the results necessary to perpetuate the cycle. On the other hand, I agree that far too often politicians fall back on cheap phrases and “attack” campaigning when they could present valid arguments and present their own political stances to a very welcoming public.

   Regardless, let’s all try to be less ignorant and learn about all the issues and candidates BEFORE actually stepping foot near the ballot box.


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