Friday, October 30, 2009

Elections and Selection

In concert with many who teach, regardless of subject matter, the idea of participation in a democracy through the act of voting is stressed to students. Voting is both a right and a privilege. We tell people that they can't complain about the results if they don't take part in the process. Well, yes and no.

Sometimes I wish that there would be a line on the ballot which says "None of the above" and that "none of the above" would win, causing political parties to go back to the drawing board to have to present a new slate of candidates for our selection.

For too many people the act of voting has become about who they don't want to see elected, not who they do. They realllllly don't want candidate A elected, so they go with candidate B or candidate C, even though they don't really like either of these candidates either. However, they dislike A far more than either B or C, so they pick what they see as the lesser of two evils. They aren't so much voting for someone as voting against someone else.

Some people abstain from voting altogether because they don't want any of the candidates presented. They don't want the "winner" to think that he/she got put into office because they were the right person for the job, voted for because they were the best candidate, when that "best" is highly doubtful.

With election day coming up next week a lot of people are praying for an early blizzard to close the polling places so they won't have to make an uncomfortable decision. The comments I've been hearing have disturbed me. Many people are going to vote so that candidate A cannot be elected or reelected, even if they don't like the other candidates. Many people are voting for a party, never mind that the candidate fielded by that party has yet to put together one coherent thought. What I've heard far less of is that someone is voting for a particular candidate because they fully believe that candidate is the right person for the job, is capable and clearly the person to be in that position.

When I was much younger we heard a lot about how the best and brightest people gravitated to public service, to running for election to office. I'm not sure just how much truth there was in that statement then, but I've become far more doubtful about its veracity now. Regarding this upcoming election I would caution political pundits about how they are going to view the election results. Just because a candidate wins doesn't necessarily mean that people wanted that candidate to win, are behind his/her political stance. They may have hated the other candidate more than this one. What you are going to hear, after the election is over, is "Candidate B's election shows the overwhelming support of the electorate for what the candidate stands for." Just once I'd like to hear the truth: "Hey we won, and we know you really don't like Candidate B but you hated Candidate A more. We hear ya. We'll try to become the person you would have wanted to choose to vote for." Uh huh, and next someone will be telling you that the tooth fairy really exists.


Kayla said...

Voting FOR someone? What a new unique idea. Are you sure that is a democratic ideal?

Shaya said...

Sometimes you're in a no win situation. If you go out and vote then the winner thinks you really support him. He points to the voting numbers. It could be like yuou describe, voting against someone else.

But if you don't vote they never say that people stayed away from the voting because of the lousy candidates. They say it's because we were lazy or we don't care about how important elections are or other trash like that.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take brains or brightness to run for office today. All it takes is money and knowing how to get that money. Oh, and clever advertising.

Anonymous said...

One reason I'm not voting in our mayor election. I can't stand either candidate and I won't vote for the least rotten just so as not get the most rotten one.

Maybe we need to go to publicly funded election campaigns with a set amount for each candidate and no more, with equal time on the tv and in ads but no more then a certain amount. Maybe if we take out money as the basis for running we might get better candidates.