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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Why you should stay home on Election Day

    A few weeks ago, I had the distinct displeasure of speaking with an old friend who told me that she intends to vote for Sen. John McCain in November.

    Her reasoning? Something along the lines of “”Come on, seriously. A woman? Or a guy named Barack? Hell no.”” Just a few days later, I heard the same sentiment echoed by another friend.

    This intensely scientific and statistically significant study of two people demonstrates conclusively that democracy does not work. OK, maybe it doesn’t. But many of us continue to vote for reasons that aren’t much better than the ones my friends gave.

    The real culprit here is the notion it is patriotic to vote. For many in this country, the right to vote is not simply that – it is a moral imperative. Following this logic, raising voter turnout is the best way to ensure that our country is as democratic as can be; moreover, if you don’t vote, you waive your right to complain about the way the country turns out for the next few years. On the far end of the spectrum, if you believe P. Diddy, your only two options are to vote or to die.

    The problems with this view are numerous. Not everyone should lead, nor should everyone be making important policy decisions. The view that everyone ought to vote has as its root the idea that people will elect officials who represent their own best interests and desires.

    Such a belief is not borne out by reality: People make political decisions for astonishingly stupid reasons. People choose Sen. Hillary Clinton for her supposed “”years of experience””; they choose Sen. Barack Obama because he is inspiring and articulate, without bothering to look at his policy record; and they choose Sen. John McCain because he was a prisoner of war – which makes him qualified to run a country, apparently.

    On the flip side, people reject politicians for equally horrible reasons. They reject McCain for his offhand “”10,000 years in Iraq”” comment without examining the context in which this remark was made; and misogyny has certainly played a significant role in the downfall of the Clinton campaign.

    Perhaps no one suffers from this effect more than Obama, who continues to feel the sting of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, as well as continued fears that he is actually a Muslim. Yes, you read that right – a Pew Research Center survey found that hearing a lot about the Wright scandal had little effect on beliefs that Obama is a Muslim.

    Ill-information continues to taint the democratic process in this country with a stain of stupidity. Worse yet, increasing the turnout of uninformed voters is strongly discouraging to those who are informed enough to vote. What’s the point of casting a ballot if it’s going to be drowned out by a sea of morons?

    Voters are the lifeblood of our great nation. But even Thomas Jefferson knew that, in order for us to serve as the holders of power in this country, our minds “”must be improved to a certain degree.””

    The only possible solution lies with you. If you plan on casting a ballot in November, do your part. The optimal choice is to be informed and to vote. But if you’re not informed, it’s better not to vote. If this all sounds elitist, it really shouldn’t; just about anyone can achieve the requisite level of knowledge to be a responsible voter if they depend on reliable publications and critical thinking rather than chain letters and sound bites.

    In the age of the Internet, there’s no excuse for being politically unsavvy.

    Detailed outlines of every major candidate’s policies are just a few clicks away on Google, and nearly every detail of their political careers can be viewed if you know where to look.

    If this is too much for you, the best thing you can do come November 4 is simply to stay home. Being a citizen of a democracy means that you enjoy the right to vote if you choose. But you also have the right not to vote-and this sacred right becomes a civic responsibility in the event that your vote isn’t founded on solid reasoning.

    Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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