The question is not who is judged to be legal, but who is qualified. Remember, just because it is legal, does not mean it is right. The reverse is also true; just because it is right, does not mean that it is legal.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
We’ll get to specifics in a moment, but here is what is needed in general to be qualified to vote:
- Love and respect your country; whether you think it needs massive changes, some changes or no changes, you need to love America and want the best for her.
- Understand the many responsibilities that come with the right to vote. All rights have equal or greater responsibilities. Let’s unpack which responsibilities underpin the right to vote, and what those responsibilities mean.
At the official founding of our nation, with the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, only propertied white males could vote. This was the opposite of inclusiveness and diversity, but it had temporary advantages. These were the very men who had just gone through a revolution, an impossible undertaking pitting a tiny country with an ill trained and poorly equipped military against the most powerful force the world had ever seen. Here’s a summary of how we won that miraculous victory: We lost and we lost and we lost–until we won. This country, our country, had risked everything and won. America and its fighters risked their lives, property and money–everything they had–to gain their–and our–freedom. They had, in the strictest meaning of the term, “skin in the game.” You can believe that they had enough of themselves invested in their country, that they–each one–would do a deep dive into the candidates and issues before voting. A deep dive that would go far beyond what the vast majority of what people–even those who feel they are well informed voters–are willing to do today.
Why? The answer is simple; only people who know what freedom is and don’t have it can truly appreciate it. Consequently, they risked everything to get it. And they were not going to endanger that hard won freedom by being casual voters.
Very few people today are anywhere near that diligent when it comes to voting. Why? The answer is again simple; we take our freedoms for granted, never believing for a moment that there is any connection between those precious–and rare–freedoms, and how well we inform ourselves before we participate in the political process. Since we do not realize what our freedoms are worth, what it cost to earn and maintain them, we assign little value to them. And they’re not worth protecting with something even as safe as being well informed and diligent. Note that we are not talking about taking up arms and fighting for our freedoms; we are talking about acquiring and analysing information.
All too many of our politicians, media and activists are no longer building upon the breakthrough vision that was America in 1776, desperately fought for and defended many times, and given to us to grow and protect. Those politicians, media and activists are the beneficiaries of the miraculous 1776 results from which we all benefit. They not only criticize and demean our country, they want to harvest the bounty that we have all inherited, without replanting, and use it for their personal and their party’s gain. Imagine for a moment a group that inherited a generations old, amazingly productive farm and ranch, now covering hundreds of thousands of acres, which had grown to be able to feed millions of people. Now imagine with me that the new owners, the new leaders, wanted to stop growing the operation. They found legitimate wrongdoing in the past, casually ignoring the great good things that were also done, and now want to stop planting and growing. And at the same time, they want, as some sort of penance, to no longer sell what the enterprise produces, but simply give things away. How long would this enterprise that feeds those millions last? How long will it be able to fulfill its purpose? Does any of this remind you of the story of the Golden Goose?
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” -John F. Kennedy, Democrat, 35th President of the United States. How many of our leaders; how many of us, are doing that?
Let’s begin the discussion of specifics with a conversaton about what does not qualify as being well informed.
- Listening and watching the same news sources. All of them have biases. Every. Last. One.
- Having political and financial conversations only with those with whom we agree. Arguing with and belittling those with opposing views does not count as a plus here.
- Accepting cliches, slogans and political taglines as having any validity at all. “Dump Trump” or “Stop the steal.” are not reasoned arguments.
- Accepting label matching instead of digging into the issues. For example, voting for a ballot issue because the party you align with supports it instead of doing your own research.
- Aligning with your geography. Will, what does this mean? Look at a map, and you will see that different geographies and different types of geographies can line up solidly behind one party of the other. For example, cities are typically aligned with one party, and rural areas back the other. The strong tendency is to assume that the “other people” just don’t get it, and that your people do. That’s not only arrogant, but dangerous. Dangerous because that is one of the types of division that is pulling our country apart.
- Voting for or against personalities and not policies. Yes, character counts, but the much ballyhooed “likeability factor” is nonsense. We should be voting for the right policies and people; we are not voting for Miss Congeniality.
Now for some things to do:
- Read and listen to several different sources of information. And from different viewpoints–even those that raise the hair on the back of your neck. For example, I consult CNN, MSNBC, WSJ, Fox, the BBC and my local paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette. I follow Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter, and subscribe to Libertarian emails. Take any story, go to all the sources, and where they are all saying the same thing is the nucleus of the truth.
- Get outta town. Give credence to people in other geographies who may have very different views from you.
- Listen. Yes, listen. Listen to others who have widely divergent views. Learn why they think that way. No, listening is not intended to be a setup so that you have the ammunition for the perfect comeback. Retorts like that may be fun, but they make enemies and create further division. Listen to learn, and, perhaps, eventually to persuade.
- Read. Yes, read. Then read some more.
- Know history. Lots of it. “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”― Winston Churchill.
- Know basic civics. Only a small percentage of voters could pass the very simple civics part of the US Citizenship test.
Today’s Key Point: Affirmative action in voting is dangerous. Not one of us would go to a casual, poorly informed dentist; we want someone who is dedicated and constantly learning to go drilling around in our mouths. And we want expertise and commitment in the people who fix our cars and appliances. Don’t we want that level of commitment and constant learning from those who influence the direction of our country by voting? Why on earth do we tolerate the push to get more and more marginally interested and poorly informed voters on the rolls? And then demand less and less of them in the way of time and effort in order to vote every two or four years? Is an average of an hour a year to show up and vote too much to ask to be a part of determining the future of America?
You are allowed to vote if you meet certain minimal age, residency and ID standards. And the process is designed to trade at least some of the security of the voting process for convenience, intentionally inviting in those for whom mere inconvenience would stand in the way of them voting. If you are a minimally qualified voter insisting on convenience, then don’t vote. I am an opponent of get-out-the vote campaigns. I am a supporter of get-out-the well-informed-and-properly-motivated-vote campaigns. Demanding knowledge, commitment and effort is not voter suppression; it is critical voter qualification and selection.
- Become a fully qualified voter in every sense, and
- Help others to become the same.
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.