With So Much Passion in Politics, Why Do So Few People Vote? (EP.213)

Voting

Introduction

“Young people are not coming out to vote.” “Hillary Clinton did not inspire voting in the way that Obama did.” “In off-year elections, we expect to see reduced voting.” “We expect to see about 55% of eligible voters coming to the polls in this presidential election year.”

In round numbers, there are 330M people in the US, 230M of voting age, 150M registered voters and 130M who bothered to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Why so few?

It takes less time to vote than it does to do a load of laundry.

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 

Continuing

Caution: This is not a get-out-the-vote podcast; this is a get-out-the-well informed vote podcast. And by well informed, I mean thoughts and opinions that are grounded in facts, honest and in-depth analyses of contrasting and dissenting opinions–all formed in the crucible of non agenda-based reasoning. One of the principles we believe in here at Revolution 2.0™ is that with every right, in this case the right to vote after qualifying legally, comes an equal or greater responsibility. Being well informed by the definition I am using is the responsibility related to voting.

Remember the observation that it takes less time to vote than it does to do a load of laundry? And we vote every two years, with a fill-in election from time-to-time. Take the equivalent of the load of laundry time on a weekly basis, and devote it to understanding our shared American history, and today’s politics and finances. With an emphasis on the in-depth analyses of contrasting and dissenting opinions, and you will be a well-qualified voter. And in the top .01% of all the people who post on social media. That would make you one in a thousand.

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 revolution pitting a tiny country with an ill trained and poorly equipped military, against the the most powerful force the world had ever seen. Here’s a summary of our miraculous victory: We lost and we lost and we lost–and then 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 most expansive 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; they knew how precious freedom was–they initially did not have it, then risked everything to get it. And they were not going to endanger that treasured 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 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 costs to earn and maintain them, we assign little value to them. And they’re not worth protecting with something as easy as being well-informed. 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 influencers are no longer building upon the breakthrough vision that was America in 1776, desperately fought for and defended many times, and given to us for growth and protection. Those politicians, media and influencers are standing in the middle of the amazing results that we all benefit from. Many of them 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 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 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 will 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 Golden Goose?

Pause for a quote: “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 switch things up and talk about what does not qualify as being well informed.

  1. Listening and watching to the same news sources. All of them have biases. Every. Last. One.
  2. Having political and financial conversations only with those with whom we agree. 
  3. Accepting cliches, slogans and political taglines as having any validity at all. “I’m with Her” or “Lock her up.” are not reasoned arguments. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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 or 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 the people in your geography do get it. That’s not only arrogant, but dangerous. Dangerous because that is one of the types of division that is pulling our country apart.
  6. Voting for personalities and not policies. Yes, character counts, but the much ballyhooed “likeability factor” is nonsense. We are voting for the person we want to win, not voting for Miss Congeniality.

Now for some things to do:

  1. 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, National Review, Daily Wire, 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.
  2. Get outta town. Give credence to people in other geographies who have very different views from you. 
  3. Listen. Yes, listen. Listen to others who have widely divergent views. Learn why they think that way. No, listening is not a setup so that you have the ammunition you need to make 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.
  4. Read. Yes, read. Then read some more. Not all readers are good leaders, but all good leaders are readers.

Today’s Key Point: I am not advocating for a return to passing a mandatory literacy test prior to voting. I am advocating for people to give themselves a rigorous political literacy test prior to voting.

Contact

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, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple, Google, or Stitcher.

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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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