Tuesday, November 19, 2002

On Voting

I had a conversation recently with a friend about voting. He asked me if I had, and I replied that I had not. He asked me why. I said that voting in an election is useless. He then was offended, explaining that it is not only a right but a duty to participate in democracy.

To which I replied: Of course, if it was a democracy. In a democracy there is debate, a weighing of the issues, a healthy dialogue between participants which hopefully leads to an informed decision.

However, what we have now is an auction. The votes go to the highest bidder.

The three percent (I am being generous) of the population that actually keeps on top of the issues by reading the newspaper and watch specific debates over year-long periods are simply being overwhelmed by the great mass of last-minute decisioners who respond solely to advertizing on television.

The people who are promoting TV ads (the main parties and their supporters) are essentially buying the general public's vote by making a tasty commercial product.

If this is not a corruption of the democratic process, I don't know what is.

The reason why it works is because people vote like sheep, based on the running candidate's skin color, religion, or the resonance of his or her last name.

If people should stop voting in elections in which they do not know any issues, the commercials would be useless, and the money needed for the commercials would be better spent elsewhere, or would not need to be raised, in shich case the elected officials who are supposed to WORK for us would spend less time at fundraisers and ra-ra rallies and actually spend time doing what we hired them to do.

Effectively, if no one votes except those who know the issue inside and out, politicians would have to appeal to those people, which means that they would have to argue their candidacy on the merit of their performance rather than on their fundraising capabilities.

The other, real, way to vote is to specifically not buy products from companies who give money to political parties.

People vote, companies don't. The reason why companies don't vote is because they are not people. People only should vote. Allowing companies to essentially buy votes with money is effectively allowing the company to vote.
As long as companies are voting that way, via political contributions, we don't have a working democracy.
Companies only worry about the bottom line. They are not interested in anything else. If the bottom line gets hurt because they contribute financially to political parties, then they will stop. And if their political contribution (vote-buying via political ads) are not effective to their bottom line, they will stop contributing.

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