Wise Voting?

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In a democracy, is there such a thing as wise voting? And if there were, wouldn't a majority of voters vote accordingly?

The answers are, Yes and No, respectively. Here's why.

If the objective of voting in a democracy is to elect government which most voters can approve of, why are Americans' approval ratings for Congress historically in the dumps? Either the objective is false, or voters do not vote wisely. Since, most voters would agree with the objective of voting as stated above, we have to answer why a majority of voters do not vote wisely.

What constitutes a wise vote? Voting for campaign promises, or voting for government results? Many things influence how voters vote, but the incumbency advantage (PDF) for reelection cannot be overlooked, nor the fact that the cost of campaigns have risen dramatically over the last several decades in advertising frenzies. Has voting based on campaign promises and rhetoric produced government, whose results are approved of by a majority of the public? Polling says, clearly not.

A wise vote then, would appear to be one in which the voter votes based on results of tenure in office, all other things being equal. If voters, for example, disapprove of the way Congress is handling national government, why are 90% and more of incumbents seeking reelection, voted back into office? The answer is, voters are not voting wisely.

Consider this: If the people did not have the vote, wouldn't most politicians in government remain in office indefinitely or, at least, for very long tenures in government? History demonstrates that power to govern is highly prized by those in power. They will insure they remain in power if the issue is left up to them.

This was precisely the thinking of the Founding Fathers in America, who, having witnessed the corruption and overreach of power by a King in England, whose term as King was for life, decided to create a government in which voting for those to be in power would become the standard. What voters today seem to fail to understand is, the power to vote for those in government, is in actuality, the power to remove those in power from office, by voting for a challenger instead.

Therein lies the power of the vote, and the power of the people, if they were to ever wisely choose to exercise it as a majority. The power to remove politicians from office is the real power of the vote. The politicians in America have invented all manner of law and regulations from gerrymandering to ballot qualification regulations designed for one express purpose, to help insure as far as possible, their reelection. This is as true of the two parties in control of government as individual Congress persons.

They tirelessly attempt to insure they remain in power, regardless of whether the majority of voters approve of Congress' efforts, or not. They work to appease large vocal special interest groups capable of supporting their reelection. And they have been remarkably successful at this. In the last election, the public's approval rating of Congress was at its lowest in history. An 11% approval rating, and 95% of those seeking reelection in Congress, were reelected.

If the American people want Congress to act differently, they must vote to remove a majority of those in Congress who are responsible for the way Congress has been acting. Voting for the same people in Congress is not going to change the direction of Congress' actions. If American voters suddenly voted as a majority wisely, to replace half or more of Congress' incumbents, the new politicians being voted in could not avoid the understanding that they too will not be reelected if the results of Congress do not change during their term in office. That is the wise lesson a wise voting public could impart to their representatives in Washington D.C.

So, to the question: "In a democracy, Is there such a thing as wise voting?", the answer is Yes, even when much of the voting public is ignorant of the nation's current events (PDF).

To the question: "And if there were, wouldn't a majority of voters vote accordingly?", the answer is no, not necessarily. It depends on whether voters believe their representative's campaign promises and rhetoric, fabricated for ONLY one purpose, to get reelected, or not.

If on the other hand, the majority of voters looked at the results of government and disapproved, and chose on that basis alone to vote for a challenger instead of their incumbent running for reelection, then, and only then, would a majority of voters be empowered to vote wisely, for a better government than the one they disapprove of in the polls.

I for one, do not approve of the results of Congress. I for one, will not vote for my representatives seeking reelection, regardless of party. Even if they were well intended, they were ineffective in altering the course of Congress. Instead I will vote for a challenger in the primary from my own party instead. I for one, cannot make a difference in the outcome of national elections. I, as one amongst many, choosing to vote wisely in this way, can change Congress' approval rating to something more acceptable than 11%, 20% or 30%.

I for one, am encouraging all my friends and family to consider voting wisely from now on. How about you?

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on June 11, 2009 5:26 PM.

American Education Conflict was the previous entry in this blog.

Does Iran Have an American Voting Problem? is the next entry in this blog.

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