Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Primaries, Voting, and Teaching "Them" a Lesson

“How will [abstaining from voting] send a message? It will send the message that the "business as usual" way of doing politics is no longer acceptable. It will send the message that the American voters demand meaning in their politicians, and if they don't get it, they will turn away and strip them of their power.” – Nikki

As the primaries moved to the point where McCain seemed the obvious one to be the Republican candidate, I started seeing statements like this more and more on the various blogs that I read. Sentiments like this come up, to one degree or another, every election. But it definitely seems more widespread this time around. Every time, some disgruntled group decides that they’re not voting to teach “Them” a lesson.

Whenever I see people talking about this, I can’t help but notice that these otherwise intelligent people just can’t grasp how stupid their words sound. I hate to target Nikki specifically here, since I’ve seen this all over. But her post on this stuck with me the most since, of those that have said this, she's the one I respect the most. As much as I respect her opinion on most things, I really feel like she, and many others that feel like her, are letting their anger about how the primaries turned out blind them to truly effective solutions.

“..the American voters demand meaning in their

Sorry to break this to everyone, but they really don’t. The American voters are morons that demand about as much meaning from their politicians as they do from the shows that they stare at blankly on TV. Honestly, how much can you expect from our “peers” when the top 3 rated shows this week were American Idol, the American Idol results show, and Dancing with the Stars. American voters don’t demand meaning, they demand pretty hair and catchy sound bites. Hell, if they demanded meaning in a candidate, that might mean they were actually intelligent enough to know that the President can’t do most of what these idiots are promising.

Too many people are completely missing the fact that our “peers” are the ones that put McCain where he is now. Granted, part of the problem is that Ron Paul came across as a nut and Fred Thompson seemed to think he could campaign without actually campaigning. But, as far as I can tell, the primaries just turned into a big game of “Whose name do you recognize the most on the ballot.” The American people don’t research candidates, and they most certainly don’t pay any attention to things like past voting records. As I see it, there is nothing substantial we can do to fix things before this election. However, I think there are a couple of things we can do that will make a real difference in the next election, and one of those will require actual sacrifice on our parts.

The first thing we need to do is start reaching out to our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. We don’t need to make them agree with our beliefs. But we at least need to get them to care enough about their own to be willing to research the candidates before picking one the next time around. Honestly, can you imagine how much better this country would be if everyone, in every party, actually expected real substance from their candidates?

The second, and more challenging, is that we need to start getting involved in the primaries. All you have to do is look at the states that do their primaries earliest to know that most of us are effectively shut out of the process. By the time things reach the more populous states, a lot of the candidates have already been driven out of the race. The only way I can see for us to fix this is to take the time to go help campaign for our candidate of choice in those early states. If I think there’s a reasonable chance that my candidate still won’t be running by the time he reaches my state, the most logical thing is for me to convince those voting earlier that he should be their candidate as well.

I’ll be completely honest at this point and admit that I don’t have a clue about how to make that work. But I’ve got 3-4 years to figure it out.

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