Friday, November 03, 2006

Voting

It's that time again and I am feeling the same old stress:

Probably, the most responsible thing for me to do is to NOT VOTE.

I like to think I am a responsible citizen. Absolutely I love America. Absolutely I recognize that if I don't actively support democracy I don't deserve it. Etc. Etc. I'm all for voting. It's just that--just that--

I HAVE NO IDEA AT ALL WHOM I SHOULD VOTE FOR.

Now, I know that the responsible solution here is to EDUCATE myself about the issues and the candidates. But, really, how realistic is that? Does anyone really know whether a certain candidate is better than another unless they either: a) know at least one of them personally, or b) support one party without variance or question?

I admit that I don't read the newspaper as I should. But I stopped believing long ago that the newspapers really tell how things are. You can't put a certain congressperson's reasons for voting a certain way into one tight little op-ed piece. Issues are really complicated. A person might vote against a proposal that seems to be for what that person believes in because it doesn't go FAR enough, for example. You just can't tell from soundbites and voter records what anyone really believes. And you can't tell from their simplistic little campaign statements either.

So how CAN anyone tell anything?

And since I can't tell, how can I go vote? Wouldn't it be better to leave the voting to people who know more than I do about the issues?

Of course, some issues are no-brainers, like more money for education. (But then again, how can I be sure that a vote for more money for education doesn't translate into a vote FOR that stupid, brainless "no child left behind" fiasco?)

I wish there was a way that I could show up and do my civic duty without having to commit to supporting someone I don't know, or something I know nothing about.

I wish there was a trustworthy (yeah, right) website that described objectively and simply the differences between candidates, their honesty and their stances.

I hate to go and just sort of randomly (and that's all it ends up being, really) mark names. It feels so terribly irresponsible. Thus my assertion: it may be more responsible for me not to vote.

Except to vote out that terrible judge I read about in the paper. (Because, of course, the paper is always right.)

3 comments:

Jennifer B said...

I agree with you. It is so hard to know how to become educated on the candidates and the issues and sometimes I feel like--who has the time?! Isn't that bad? Okay, I do look through the voter pamphlet which is helpful on propositions, but not so much with candidates. So. . . .I still ask my parents how they are going to vote (since they know people who know people) and often vote the way they do. Each time I consider this problem I end up deciding that as guilty as I feel about being under-informed, I would feel worse about not voting.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to figure out why the concensus is that voting for more money for education is a no brainer. I disagree. Why does everyone think that money is the solution for our education system? I have a snipet from an article about it. I hate to post this without stating the source. It's not that I'm trying to hide the source. It is just that this is in my hands and I no longer remember the source. Money won't fix these problems. Here it is:

There's a reason why public education is going from bad to worse. It's

1. A monopoly
2. Run by the government
3. Welfare funded
4. Union controlled

What's there not to like? You get all the innovation of stodgy old Ma Bell, the service of the DMV, the culture of indifference and dependence of the dole inculcated in the parents, and the self preserving, self serving, obstructionist policies of unions running the show - all rolled into one.

As if that's not enough, being de-facto mandatory and being tax dollar funded makes public education the perfect tool for pushing ideologies onto the most vulnerable of society - it's youth. No wonder it's become the battle ground of the social wars.

Look at those who are supporting such a structurally inefficient and ineffective system, and you'll find that they are either well intentioned - but misinformed, preserving their job security, or using the system to promote their ideology - often it's all three. With the overwhelming majority of Utah state tax dollars going to public education, you can bet there are a lot of people whose jobs depend on the system, have paternalistic government leanings, and don't have a clue of the damage one-size-must-fit-all socialism does.

The best part of it is, the structure of the system is such that it prospers through failing to server our children. After all, without alternatives and comparisons how can anyone do anything but throw the monopoly more money, especially with their ability to claim they alone represent the children’s plight. Of course this simply expands their weight and reach and ultimately diminishes their ability to serve children effectively. Talk about a nice feedback loop!

The most powerful feedback loop is that public educated parents are left unequipped to make educational decisions about their children, at a minimum they have been indoctrinated by the system into thinking so. That is of course the biggest argument against school choice, that you the parent cannot make better decisions than "the system". Case in point, "the system" is currently telling you that it knows best - math and science are more important than cultural electives.

Yup, school choice would be a dangerous experiment. Kind of like offering democracy and freedom to peoples unaccustomed to it.

-Dave Y.

Darlene said...

I apologize. Using words like “no-brainer” is insulting. For me, believing that it would be good to put more money into education is very much a reasoned belief, not a “no-brainer.” Not that I believe that more money alone would fix things—other changes are necessary, beginning with getting rid of that horrible “No Child Left Behind.” But, being a teacher, I have great faith in teachers and their ability to do a good job educating children—if their hands aren’t tied by desperate budgets, huge class sizes, stupid government regulations about requiring teachers to teach all abilities and capabilities in one classroom, etc. If we tripled the money we currently give to education and divided every teacher’s classroom into three, I believe we would be astounded at what these teachers could pull off. Then, imagine raising the teachers’ salaries so that the cream of the crop fought over the positions. I have seen enough innovative, intelligent teachers who really care to make me believe that they really could do a fantastic job of educating kids if we gave them the environment in which to do it.

In an ideal society, I believe that parents could be trusted to know what’s best for their kids’ educations. BUT this society is too messed up. Too many people are living in poverty, fighting just to survive, and unable to worry about the quality of their children’s education. Too many broken homes, overworked mothers, etc. Then the children of these broken homes grow up to form broken homes, and the cycle continues. If we as a society don’t take care of the children of these broken homes, we will pay the price in prisons, police, and the judicial system. Already we are failing to take care of them and things are a mess. Abandoning them to a school system that is overcrowded and underfinanced while we educate our own children will only hurt us in the end. To me, it all gets down to people’s willingness to take care of OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN.