To vote or not to vote, and the responsibility therein

For a couple generations, we have been told that it is our civil responsibility to vote. We have been told that thousands died in World War Two and World War One to preserve our right to vote. We have been told that all the millions of U.S. citizens who have sacrificed themselves throughout the decades and centuries require us to vote to do honor to their sacrifice. I’m here to relieve you of that guilt and tell you to stay home.

This obligation that many feel to vote has not coincided with the responsibility to stay informed. Look what group pressure put on millions of Americans to vote has gained us. I would say that most of our representatives feel no pressure to be representative of our views. They know that if they say the right thing here and there, they have a good chance of being re-elected. If they take a moment out of their day to lay out some populist rhetoric, they know that they have a chance, regardless of how they vote. They have their words market tested, and they learn what to say and what not to say. They know that fewer and fewer are staying engaged long enough past an election to monitor their actions. If you are one of those who doesn’t have the time, the inclination, or the desire to follow politics, don’t vote.

The uneducated voter is doing more damage to the Republic than those who don’t vote could ever do. When politicians, newsmen, and Hollywood stars gripe about the apathy of the American electorate, they are doing so because they believe that a greater showing of uneducated voters benefits the party they’ve chosen to follow. They are not griping because Americans fail to live up to their civic duty. They want young, uneducated voters to at least balance, if not override the educated, concerned voters who are watching what the representatives do in our local seats and in Washington.

There is a degree of guilt associated with failing to vote. I think that those who don’t want to vote have never been given the proper excuse. How about this: “No, I didn’t vote this time. I didn’t have the time to pay attention this year, so rather than having a hand in electing some schlub who personally appeals to me on an emotional basis, I left this election to the people who pay more attention. Say what you want, but I believe this particular election is better left in others’ hands.”

If you are one who wants to be better educated, the key is to understanding party platforms. Individual politicians will lie to you to secure your vote, but they will follow their party’s platform when in office. There are few exceptions to the rule, but as a general rule Republicans believe more in the individual than Democrats do. Democrats largely believe that the individual helpless and powerless. Democrats believe that an individual can be overrun by the system, and they seek to protect these individuals. Some would say that the Democrats believe that they need to step in and save individuals from corporate America is an interruption of Adam Smith’s invisible hand theory. Republicans would tell you that Smith’s invisible hand theory that states that markets are self-regulating is the ideal system. Democrats will tell you that corporate America is inherently evil, and it cannot be left to its own devices. Throughout the history of the United States, Democrats have used downturns in the market and moments in time when some factions of corporate America have acted in a nefarious manner to embolden their philosophy for the anti-corporate protection that they offer individual Americans. Republicans would tell you that all markets are cyclical and there are nefarious individuals in all walks of life. Republicans will tell you that companies that have acted in a nefarious manner should be treated as the exception to the rule, rather than the rule. They will tell you that these companies should be investigated, sanctioned, imprisoned or put on some sort of SEC probationary period until they can provide quality proof that the action was an aberration of their activities. Republicans believe, in other words, that these matters should be dealt with on a case by case basis. Democrats believe in sector wide, if not market wide, regulation to prevent nefarious activity in the future. This call for broad based regulation based on the actions of a nefarious few, say Republicans, may be more damaging to the American market than any nefarious individual or individual corporations.

If you disagree with this characterization that’s one thing, but if you are disinterested in reading this or any characterization of the parties, don’t vote. You’re doing more damage to the Republic than you know.


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