The Weekly Dream: Decisions, Decisions
Question of the Week: What determines how you vote?
I have been involved with The SuperSpade from its inception. And for all the political issues and topics we discuss, for all the awareness my brother Garlin brings everyday, one thing has eluded me: What is my “voting process?” With the upcoming elections, I believe this is extremely relevant.
I am all for civic duty, but when I turned 18, I noticed that voter education in this country was weak. First, most Americans do not understand the structure and intricacy of our governmental system. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone on the street whether America is a democracy or a republice and explain the difference. This is problematic for obvious reasons. If we do not know how the system works, then we do not know who does what.
Secondly, the media throws around a hodge-podge of issues and scandals, but there is not a scale or any mechanism I am aware of in order to evaluate and make sense of it all. To me, politics is like a high school popularity contest. This results in decisions being made based on sensationalist issues like abortion or gay marriage, in the wrong (i.e. presidential) race.
I find business far more interesting than politics, because I know that is who runs America (if you don’t believe me, look at the laws, but that is another debate). Furthermore, I hate being knowingly lied to, so politics is not high on my list. If we want to improve voter turnout, we should empower people with the tools and the process to make good political decisions. That way, voting does not just feel like an fruitless exercise. In addition, we must teach people how to leverage their votes and make the system work for them. Voting is just the starting point for civil involvement. Although Garlin may be better equipped to discuss this more thoroughly, I will share a few of my thoughts as to making better political decisions.
One Man, One Vote
First, understand the basics of our government: separations of powers, the Constitution, etc. You do not need to be an attorney, just know who does what. For instance, a lot of people voted for Bush because of his faith based movement or his stance on abortion. What he believes is fine and dandy, but those issues are not within his sphere of influence. Take abortion or gay marriage. Those are not issues for the federal government, those are state issues (according to the Supreme Court). Another example is how we blame Bush for the state of the country. While he is responsible for a good portion of the mess we are in, the real fault lies with our lame duck Congress. Bush’s job is to execute the mandates of the Congress. Congress approved and re-approved the Patriot Act. Congress has allowed the country to be sharply split among partisan lines. It is much easier for you personally to hold your state representatives accountable than to hold Bush directly accountable. But because in the aggregate, we do not understand the system, we are taken in by rhetoric.
Second, understand what issues are relevant to the particular office. This will tell you why you should care about a particular political race. In business, people are evaluated only on those things within their immediate sphere of control. It should be the same in politics. That way, I can hold my congressman or state legislator or mayor responsible for the relevant issues, things he can and should control.
Third, look at the candidates and yourself and where you stand on the pertinent issues. This will take a little sleuthing, but I suggest that you look at a wide variety of informational sources before forming an opinion. Because the truth is often in the middle.
According To Me
What you begin to realize is that your vote alone gives you one thing: The right to complain. True power in politics is attained either through people or profit. Either you have access and influence with a large audience or you got Microsoft money. Our Founding Father’s did this by design, as they were extremely afraid of ignorant factions and tyranny by the majority. Thus, only individuals with access to the most resources could attain the heights of political power. So, to overcome this inherent obstacle, we must pool our interests and resources together (read: lobby, organize).
This is how the game seems to me, right or wrong. But I am sure if you follow these instructions, at least you have a skeleton to make your vote more of a conscious decision. And once consciousness comes, accountability cannot help but follow.