Monday, July 31, 2006

The "Responsibility" to vote

One thing really bugs me, as long as we are on the subject of Constitutionalism (which I would assume we will stay on a lot of the time). People repeatedly tell us how it is the citizen's responsibility to vote. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say this, nor should it. It is exactly this sort of attitude that keeps incumbents in office whether they make poor decisions, waste taxpayer money, kill someone, or even die. Whose name do you know? The guy in office, usually.
People should not vote unless they've educated themselves. It is a person's right to vote and a voter's responsibility to know about what they're voting on. In the last Presidential election, young voters were encouraged to vote...strongly encouraged, actually. These same young voters were also constantly barraged with anti-Bush messages in the media and in their music. They were not encouraged to learn about the issues, just told that they were needed to promote a change. It was implied, of course, that to cause that change, they'd have to throw out Bush.
On college campuses and other youth hot-spots, you would hear a lot about getting rid of Bush, but never why we should get rid of him, and certainly nothing about why Kerry was better (unless, of course, you count "he's not Bush" as a legitimate plus side).
By the same token, others vote for the incumbent, since he must've done alright so far, the one that looks the friendliest, or the one from their party of choice. Do these people truly educate themselves? Does their vote promote positive citizenship? No on both counts. Their vote is a compelled vote, made because they are supposed to vote. If people paid attention, maybe a third-party candidate would even be viable.
By all means, exercise your right to vote...but also exercise your right to educate yourself on the issues. If you can't do both, you shouldn't do either--we do not have mandatory voting in this country.

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