Note:--This was written just prior to the 2000 presidential election. The basic precepts still hold true.
You've heard it all before. "It's your civic duty to vote! Democracy depends on it!"1 Even MTV gets into the act with
their ridiculous "Rock the Vote" campaign. The main problem with this is that too many people--dare I say, most people?--have
absolutely no business coming within 100 yards of any polling booth. Why? Simply because, they haven't a clue as to what
Unfortunately, there's no Constitutional way to keep an uninformed voter from voting, as long as that voter is a legal,
law-abiding citizen of the United States, and is properly registered to vote. I believe, though, that at the very least,
citizens should take it upon themselves to meet certain prerequisites before casting their ballots.
A knowledge of history--Not just U. S. history, but world history as well. That way, the citizen can see the
mistakes that other countries have made, and how the United States can avoid them. One of the biggest mistakes in history
has been the great Socialist/Welfare Statist experiment. The Soviet Union and Cuba are prime examples. Mexico and Great
Britain are other examples. Mexico--with its vast oil resources--shouldn't have any excuse for its poverty. But, its
oil industry is owned by the Mexican government, which then uses its oil profits to fund cradle-to-grave Welfare-Statist
programs. After World War II, Great Britain decided to try the Socialist path, and nationalized vast portions of the British
economy. The results in both countries have been disastrous.
A basic knowledge of the Constitution--You don't have to have a Harvard law degree for this. The Constitution is
actually a very simple, easy to understand document. The voter should be able to discern whether a particular candidate's
proposals are in line with the Constitution. Also, reading The Federalist will help a voter understand why the Founding
Fathers set up our government as they did.
A basic knowledge of the Declaration of Independence--This will tell a voter the reasons why early Americans
went to war to win their independence from Britain. It will also help a voter to understand what to look out for from our
own government. One never knows when our president or congress may try to repeat George III's grievous sins.
A basic knowledge of economics--Again, you don't need any fancy education or degrees for this. There are some
very basic, simple macroeconomic principles that everyone can grasp. Things like, the laws of supply and demand, or how
taxation affects the economy. This basic knowledge will help a voter determine the validity of a candidate's promises to
"Fight for the people, not for the powerful", or to fight the big oil or pharmaceutical companies to ensure low prices.
A knowledge of current events--Too many voters either don't bother with trying to keep up with the news, or they
depend on the mainstream media, which has shown a distinct slant to the left. Voters should take it upon themselves to search
out the most reliable sources for news, even if they're not the traditional sources that they've been accustomed to.
I could give many examples of the types of citizen who do not meet these prerequisites. Here are just a few:
Single issue voters--They just want what's in it for them. I know military people who base their vote on who will
give the biggest military pay raise. Small business owners may only want someone who's friendly to small business. Just a
few hours drive south of me, in central Florida, there's a nudist organization whose members base their vote solely on who
will protect their "rights" to cavort nude on the Canaveral National Seashore. While it's certainly proper to look out for
one's own interests, voters also need to look at the bigger picture, and at other issues.
Undecided voters--I'm sorry. If at this stage of the game, someone hasn't yet made up his or her mind on how to
vote, there's a problem. This class of voters have obviously been too lazy to find the information to help them decide. It's
not like there aren't stark differences between the candidates this year. And, it's not like the information isn't out there
to help point out these differences.
The gullible--This year, one of the major presidential candidates has been trying to scare the wits out of certain
segments of our population. He scares Senior Citizens by accusing his opponent of wanting to destroy Social Security. He frightens
African-Americans by spouting ridiculous talk about how his opponent would destroy civil rights. Now, it's one thing to
believe that stuff if you check into the matter, and find credible evidence that it's true. But, until you do that, remain
The vague voters--Yesterday, I talked to an elderly lady who runs her own Watkins business at the local flea
market down in Jacksonville, Florida. She told me about how she votes by absentee ballot, but doesn't know how to fill them
out. She used to let her roommate--since deceased--do it for her, but now she has some friends do it, and she just signs
it. I said, "But wait, you've told me before that your roommate was a Democrat, and you're a Republican. And you let her
fill out your ballot?" She said, "Well, my family has always been Republican, but I changed to please her. And, it does seem
like people have more money when Democrats are in charge." Now, she couldn't present any data or empirical evidence to back
up her assertion. All she had was this vague feeling. I tried to explain the error of her ways, but, of course, it's too
late for this year, since she's already submitted her vote. Also, I mentioned in passing about her candidate's
legal and ethical problems, and she didn't know anything about that. How long has this information been out there?
The stick-with-who-we-know voters--These are the voters who say, "The economy is good, so why should we change?"
The guy I heard this from is a Gore supporter for this reason. He knows no other issues and never reads the news.
The We've-Always-Voted-This-Way Voters--There are voters on both sides of the political spectrum whose families
have always voted a certain way, and so that's the way they vote. They don't really know why, just that that's what they're
supposed to do.
The Emotional Voters--After the Gulf War, there erupted a huge clamour for General Colin Powell to run for
president. Nobody knew his stands on anything. In fact, nobody even know which party he supported. This spring, during the primaries, I received an e-mail from a McCain supporter who I happen to know. He didn't
write it; he was only circulating the message that he had received from elsewhere. The gist of the message was that John
McCain is a war hero and suffered greatly for the cause of American patriotism. Therefore, he deserves to be president.
There was no mention of his ideas or positions. And, of course, the fact that he's a war hero doesn't cover that
fact that he supports blatantly unconstitutional ideas for reforming campaign financing.
Of course, I'm sure that the intrepid reader could think of other examples.
Stop and think
While many people are urging us to vote -- regardless of for whom, for what, or for what reason -- there are very few urging us to do what is far more important: Stop and think!
by Thomas Sowell
Stay home; don't vote
Here they come -- the earnest exhortations to get out and vote. You'll be hearing it from television newscasters, MTV, newspaper
ads, radio talk show hosts, weathermen, schoolteachers ... you get the idea. Everyone has a duty to vote, they will say.
by Mona Charen
And, of course, I would be remiss by ending this without plugging a couple of books from our Big Corporate Sponsor. ;)
Votescam is one of the most important books you can read.
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the World Ablaze : Washington, Adams, Jefferson and the American Revolution
Setting the World Ablaze is the story of the three men who, perhaps more than any others, helped bring the United
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narrative, John E. Ferling delivers a genuine and intimate illustration of them and, in doing so, gives us a new
understanding of the passion and uncertainty of the struggle to form a new nation.
Spin Control David Talbot, Salon.com
... a must read for every American who has gotten tired of the way things have become in politics and the news.
Lara Spencer, ABC-TV
"Spin Control" will serve as a wake-up call for the reporting profession. Very insightful, sharp, cutting and funny.
Finally. . .
It seems that our humble little website is gaining some popularity. I wish to thank all of the other webmasters who have
been linking to us.
1Yes, I know that the United States was founded as a republic. But, sadly, most U.S.
citizens believe that the U.S. really is a democracy.