Saturday, October 18, 2008

What Do You Know? ...

The thing that dismays me most about the upcoming election is not the relentless sniping among the candidates, it's the gullibility of voters, voters who will believe anything if it's printed on a piece of paper or forwarded in e-mail. It's absurd.

Like Gayle Quinnell, the red-shirted woman at McCain's rally, who pronounced that she's afraid of an Obama presidency because he's an Arab.

"No, ma'am," McCain said. "He's a decent family man."

Which is true, but what McCain needed to say – what he conspicuously did not say – is that Obama is not an Arab.

In a follow-up interview, Quinnell revealed that she'd been given a letter about Obama that contained "all kinds of bad things" and that she herself has gone to Kinko's and made 400 copies and had sent them to random people whose names she has gotten out of the phone book.

She asserted that Obama is Muslim. The reporter corrected her, telling her that Obama's father was Muslim, but that Obama is Christian. "Yeah," she said, "but he's still got Muslim in him. So that's still part of him."

Sigh. Gayle? Muslim is not a race. Muslims are followers of Islam, which is a religion. Religion is a choice. Obama has chosen Christianity.

Yesterday, L.A. Dave and I were talking about all things politics, which is pretty much all we talk about these days, because there is so much to talk about.

I told him that I wished that voters were required to pass a test before casting a ballot.

Dave, who is black, brought up voter-suppression tactics that were used in the '60s and asked if a test wouldn't be more of the same.

"No," I said. "I don't think it's too much to ask that a voter who is about to help decide the next leader of the free world know the basic facts about the candidates."

Think about it. When you turn 16, you don't automatically receive a driver's license in the mail. You have to take a driving test and you have to take a written test to prove that you know the basic rules of the road. And if you don't pass, you don't get a license. And that's a good thing. It makes the roads safer for the rest of us.

A more-germane example? When I was in middle school, I had to take a civics test. Me and my classmates had to demonstrate a working knowledge of our government. The test was mandatory, as was a passing grade.

So why is the only requirement to vote that someone be 18 or older? If you have a utility bill or a photo ID with your name on it, you can register to vote and become one of the millions who will collectively determine the direction of the country for the next four years, but none of us are required to demonstrate that we have any knowledge about any of the candidates.

Which leaves the door wide open for the Gayle Quinnells of the world to not only believe anything they read but to also pass along that misinformation, and then go to the polls and vote based on ignorance and fear.

That's what makes me afraid.

Update: For a bit of levity on this topic, I offer this video. Thanks, Tracy!

14 Comments:

Blogger Mercurie said...

I know some would say it sounds elitist, but I think one should have to prove that one knows the candidates and the issues before they can vote. This election has proven there are far too many ignorant people out there. And far too many want to stay ignorant.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. People should pass a sort of test before they are allowed to vote. Even to run for President.

If you were to hire someone for a management position at Wal-Mart proven experience matters. Everyone is too caught up in the hype of Barack Obama, especially black people where about 98% of them will be voting for him mainly because he is black. Obama is just using the fear of George Bush to scare people to vote for him. He seems like a pseudo-clone of extreme leftist Hugo Chavez.

People who wish to run for President should at least have a Master's degree in economics. If they don't have that degree then they should not even consider economic intervention and just embrace the self regulation of laissez-faire. We need smaller government and less government intervention. We are Americans.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I thought the electoral college chose the president. Silly me.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

The first Anonymous wrote:

Everyone is too caught up in the hype of Barack Obama, especially black people where about 98% of them will be voting for him mainly because he is black.

Wow. Since you obviously have some pipeline into the minds of all black people, tell me what I'm thinking about you right now. Actually, that shouldn't be too hard if you read any more of my ongoing comment.

Anon also said:

People who wish to run for President should at least have a Master's degree in economics.

Well, that would indeed disqualify Mr. Obama. Of course, that prospective provision would also jettison Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin from the qualified ranks. Oops. Be careful of what you ask for. (By the way, our current President, Mr. Bush, does have an MBA. Lot of good it did him - and us.)

Finally, Anon, you generously point out that:

We are Americans.

Well, I am. I sure as hell don't know if you are.

Sorry for being uppity there, but I call them like I see them. Like I see you. Got to love free speech, no?

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Dave Tutin said...

All that is required of a voter is that he or she be a citizen of this country. And that's the way it should be. Government of the people by the people for the people - remember? Politicians are supposed to be "normal" people not economists. You should watch John Adams again, or for the first time if you haven't seen it, and remind yourself how and why this country came into being. And I say that as a Brit! The right to be free and determine your own life is at the root of the American way of life. Qualifications to vote? Next you'll be extolling the virtues of a Monarchy.

Obama wants to emphasize pre-school education. That's how we one day get smarter voters. So, again, we are picking a man with the right ideas - who would be shocked by the idea of a voter test.

I agree with everything you say about how scary some voters are but education is the answer not elitism.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Elitism? I don't see how wanting people to be educated before they make a decision that involves me, the entire nation, and the next four years is elitist.

By your logic, Dave (Tutin), to use one of my examples, just because I take a driver's-education class, I should automatically be allowed to drive a car, regardless of whether learned anything in the class or whether I can operate a vehicle safely? Just taking the class is enough?

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, someone in my driver's education class actually dropped the tranny out of a car when he threw it into reverse while going 60 mph on the interstate because he got spooked by a rainstorm. Not only does he actually have a driver's license despite nearly causing the driver's ed teacher to expire prematurely, but also a Ph.D., although not in economics I'm afraid. And, yes, he still votes like everyone else even though I would never volunteer to get in a car with him.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

Beth, I think what a lot of the posters are missing is that our Founding Fathers were idealistic enough to believe that the average citizen would take enough pride in their country to learn about how its government works and to educate themselves on its policies. One thing the McCain campaign has proven to me is that classes on government and being a responsible citizen should be required from elementary school clear up into college.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Dave Tutin said...

Your analogy is clever. Agreed. But flawed. Being a citizen confers on you certain rights - I think the word is unalienable if I remember my Constitution. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Oh...and if I'm not mistaken...the RIGHT to vote. Well, back then, it did as long as you weren't black. And as an Obama supporter I know you don't want to return to those days! But what you suggest is almost as distasteful as the three-fifths compromise.

Driving is a privilege - requiring learned skills - NOT a right. Your test would require a reclassification of voting as a privilege of the few rather than a right of us all.

Take the right to vote away from from the most unfortunate, uneducated, unintelligent person and you violate the foundation of this nation. Because you take away the right to guide one's own destiny...to pursue life, liberty and happiness. A citizen has the right to vote. Period. Having spent many years as a legal alien denied that right I can tell you how it feels.

Educate people so they will be better voters. It takes time and commitment but it's the only way. It's the Obama way. And it means recognizing that the idiots will always be out there. The thing is to make sure they are not the majority. 270 electoral college votes can be achieved despite the idiots. That's the beauty of the system.

Rise above this. You are a smart woman. Even your chosen candidate would NEVER support any kind of restriction on voting. It's why he's a great man.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Dave Tutin said...

One last thing:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, recognizes the integral role that transparent and open elections play in ensuring the fundamental right to participatory government. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 21 states:
Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedures.


America doesn't live up to this totally. Being a naturalized citizen I can never be President (probably a VERY good thing!) but luckily we live up to the rest of it. Long may we do so.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

And you, Mr. Tutin, are a smart man. Thanks for weighing in again. Your argument (not that I'm arguing) makes complete sense.

You're right that voting is a right.

I just wish that everyone took their civic duty seriously enough to learn the facts about the candidates.

Alas, I also wish that people didn't commit crimes.

So much for wishing.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Dave Tutin said...

Keep wishing. Keep helping. Anything is possible. Look how far we've come. As Barack says, his story could only happen here. Be happy.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Academic proof of media bias http://journalism.org/node/13307

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Chels said...

Obama claims to have only made $12,000 a year as a community organizer. Yet, he was able to travel to Indonesia and Pakistan, just to name a few, after 2 years at Occidental College. Then 4 years of Columbia University, Harvard Law School and 7 houses with one of the houses discounted at a cost of $1.65 million which is at issue with Tony Rezko.

Hmmm. Makes you wonder where he gets all of this money from.




PS. Maybe I should take a trip to Muslim places like Indonesia and Pakistan it seems as if money grows on trees there! heh

10:24 PM  

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