Voting not for the stupid

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Sep 102006
 
Authors: Andy Nicewicz

Everyone involved even remotely with politics is concerned about the consistent low voter turnout in the United States.

As a result, numerous programs and organizations have been mobilized to get more people to register and to get more people to vote. Now, it’s difficult for me to say this because it goes against the typical view that the more people who vote the more successful our democracy is, but here it is anyway: Why are more voters necessarily a good thing?

I’m sure some of you are now saying, “What are you, stupid?” and have turned to the comics by now. But hopefully I have intrigued enough people who will examine my argument.

A successful democracy needs a few things, one of the most important being an involved population. Voting is, of course, an important aspect (if not the most important aspect) of being involved in a democracy.

However, voting does little good if you aren’t also an informed citizen.

Quite frankly, I’d rather have 1,000 voters who know the issues back and front than a million voters who don’t know squat.

Here’s an example of what I mean: Johnny Voter is registered to vote and goes to the voting center in November. There are two candidates running for the same office, and to Johnny there isn’t much difference between the two.

He never listened to any debates, never looked into either’s platform and rarely read any news on the election. He has, however, seen several ads on television saying how Politician A hates grandmothers and that Politician B eats babies.

On the other hand, there was another ad where Politician A said he supports “traditional family values” (whatever that means) so Johnny votes for him (plus his hair looks better).

As it turns out, Politician A’s platform is almost the exact opposite of what Johnny believes in. Before he knows it, Johnny is paying higher tuition, higher taxes and his grandmother can’t pay for her medication (“I guess he really does hate my grandma.”).

The fact is Johnny would have been better off if he hadn’t voted at all.

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t vote. It’s quite the contrary.

What I am saying is please do your research, and don’t use negative ad campaigns as your main sources. They are always (and I mean always) either full-out lies, half-truths, distortions of the truth or based on facts taken totally out of context.

But they probably are full-out lies.

Also, don’t only depend on your friends for your political information (unless, of course, one of your friends happens to be me, in which case you should do exactly what I say). However, do engage in serious political debates and discussions (i.e., not using the words “hippie” or “redneck”) with your friends and classmates.

So get out there and vote this coming November!

And if you haven’t registered yet, register. (There will be people out in the plaza bothering you about it in the weeks leading up to the election.) There are some very important issues on the ballot, and your vote can make a difference.

But please, don’t just go into it willy-nilly. Research how the candidates feel about issues that matter to you. Look into the numerous referenda and initiatives on the ballot and see how they would affect you.

Don’t be a lazy citizen. Apathy is what kills democracies.

But most importantly, read this column. Everything I write is 100 percent true and all the suggestions I make are in your best interest.

By the way, don’t vote for Marilyn Musgrave, she eats babies.

Andy Nicewicz is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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