Being ‘spoiled’ in democracy has created lazy voters and disengaged citizens
Depending on Tuesday night’s victor, you are either still recovering from the hangover induced by a celebratory night of drinking, or waiting for the redness in your eyes to clear up from hours of crying before you finally made it to sleep. Hopefully the former.
It has been a nasty presidential campaign, flooded with millions upon millions of dollars.
There have been cheap blows from both sides, untrue and skewed claims about each candidate, and allegations to the highest level of absurdity. (Even the demand to see Obama’s birth certificate came up again.)
[singlepic id=1463 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Many citizens are throwing up their hands and shaking their heads at today’s politician. But the source of this political aggravation cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of those in office. It’s a case of the chickens coming home to the roost.
We complain non-stop about politics, but we are in part to blame. This is my gripe with America: we are fed up with American politics but politics of any given country are only as smart as the citizens. Engaged citizens are the backbone of a strong democracy; without it a democratic government can quickly become tyrannical.
Let me present my case: I will concede, politicians have recently gotten out of control, but I believe the citizens need to bear some of the blame due in part to their ignorance.
We have gotten lazy, letting TV tell us who to vote for instead of doing our own research.
Political change takes a collective effort, but most importantly, it means being equipped with the right knowledge.
There is not a person in this country that is unaware that politicians have public relation specialists, or spin doctors, that assess the American public’s perception of their respected candidate, and then cater to their desires. Yet we still fall victim to it all the time.
For instance, who remembers when polls concluded that the American people thought Romney was not as likeable or personable as the incumbent Barack Obama?
All of the sudden, Romney is telling stories about how he helped a dying child who is a member of his church write his last will at a rally in Florida.
Paul Ryan tells a story of how Ole Mitt paid for some family’s kids to go to college.
These shrewd public relation strategies actually worked. We were actually manipulated into thinking how spin doctors wanted us to think. They tell us the wool will be pulled over our eyes, and we let it happen anyway.
The debate between the two presidential hopefuls earlier this month only strengthened my disdain for swing voters. Obama was riding on nearly an eight-point poll bump after the Democratic National Convention.
Up until the first debate, media outlets were declaring this is Obama’s election to lose, that Romney just couldn’t grab the public’s admiration, and gaffe after gaffe had left the people feeling as if Romney was not suitable for the highest office of the country.
But hold on: all it took for people to see a different Romney was an hour and a half of debate. That’s right, an hour and a half of Mitt Romney making dubious assertions turned an “easy path to the White House for Obama” into “Romney’s race to lose.” I guess a man can change in 90 minutes.
Obama has used the term Romnesia, but it would be more aptly put to declare the American public forgetful regarding its candidates and their backgrounds.
All the information a person could ever want about a candidate (except a reasonable number of Mitt Romney’s tax returns) is out in the open.
Article after article describes what each candidate stands for, their voting history, what they say and how they actually act; there are websites dedicated to fact checking claims, opinions from both conservative and liberal experts.
Information upon information is already available to public about each candidate.
If you are a swing voter, you have either refused to do independent research on your own, or you are waiting for 30-second television ads or the news media to tell you who to vote for.
As a country, we are so fortunate to have democracy. I know, I have heard it from my elders a million times too.
Unfortunately we have been spoiled by our right to participate in a democracy, rendering us incapable of realizing how special it actually is.
We have become numb to the significance of democracy because we are the only country in the history of the world that was born into democracy, we know nothing else.
There is a reason people have died, are dying, and will always die in a struggle for fair and equal democratic elections.
I did not vote in 2008, believe it or not, because I was bitter. I thought what’s the point?
It then dawned on me that I have no right to complain about this country if I do not vote, and obtain some politically maturity to guide my vote. It is a civic obligation.
Hopefully, whoever is in office will make strides in our educational system that requires an emphasis not only on the tradition three Rs, but has a P thrown in there too: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Politics.
Ben Horowitz can be contacted at email@example.com