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02 Nov. 2008
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Further Thoughts On The Franchise

Yesterday I offered a suggestion for keeping your PLUCO cold, and added a few non-conventional words about voting.  I should have expected a reaction.  An email poured in from Tom, who presumably has never gone defective as a result of consuming spoiled fish.  Tom is a student of government, and has received much of his funding from the government.  (It's called "working."  He's actually employed by a local government.)  He's also a very thoughtful guy, and shared them with me.

Tom's Views

Not only do you have a right to complain, you don't even have to BE right to complain. Many people who do aren't.

I vote because it can't hurt and it might do some good. I've missed a few school board elections, but I've only missed one general election since I became eligible to vote. In 1971, I was registered to vote in Huntington NY and in Richmond VA, but I no longer lived in either of those places and I moved too close to election day to reregister, so that's the only time I didn't vote in a general election.

The larger the election, the less likely it is to be decided by only one vote, of course.  In fact, with the electoral (not electorial) college, it's probably not possible for one vote to decide the presidential election unless it makes it to the House of Representatives.

However, voting in a presidential election isn't just voting for president.  And one vote or one vote per election district could decide an election for county legislature, board of supervisors, district court judge or something else. Obama by bringing out voters who don't ordinarily vote, may turn the New York State Senate from Republican control to Democratic.

Studying voting patterns might make one favor oligarchy.  Some pretty damned dumb people make astonishingly bad decisions in the voting booth based on moronic reasons.  More people vote for President than for dog catcher on the same ballot.  There are people who vote for the first person on the ballot because he or she is first. There's an astonishing lack of participation in government and in community organizations too.  There are also elected offices that require technical knowledge and should not be elected such as assessor and coroner.  In areas where they have initiative and referendum (chiefly out west), voters make the government do stuff and forbid the government to raise taxes to pay for it.  No matter how much people complain about corruption and waste in government or about policies they disagree with, here's my major pronouncement about this democracy of ours: America has a much better democracy than it deserves considering how few people really participate in it.

As far as the presidential election itself is concerned, I agree with you that the candidates are flawed.  The whole process is flawed.  Why do they have conventions anymore?  It's been over 50 years since the last time a convention determined a nominee.  It goes on far too long.  I work in government, I used to work for a Congressman, have a degree in government, used to teach government and report on it.  I'm really interested in government and politics and I'm totally bored with this election and have been for a couple of years.  I believe the 2016 presidential campaign started eight days ago.  I'll be bored with it before Christmas.  Obama spent $600 million and McCain spent over $80 million.  Whoever heard of a Democrat outspending a Republican, let alone by that much?

I forget who said our government is the worst possible system except for all the others.  And, if you believe in parallel universes, you're going to vote and not vote on Tuesday.  In fact, you're going to vote for both candidates and not vote for either on Tuesday.  Seen on a bumper sticker once: "Heisenberg slept here, or somewhere else nearby."

Tom

He agreed that I may use some of it to semi-rebut myself.  In rereading his comments and mine, I decided that we really don't disagree on anything important, so it's not even a semi-rebuttal.  Along with granting permission, he followed up with this:

Another reason to vote is to feel involved in and invested in the government to a small degree.  That's a reason to pay taxes too, BTW, although admittedly not the biggest one (you may go to jail or lose your house if you don't is the biggest one).

I was listening to part of the show on NPR this afternoon about the election. They had on a guy who is studying why a much higher percentage of people used to vote than do now. Wish I'd paid attention. One thing he said was it used to be a more social event in the 1800's.

He did debunk my theory about armed enforcement of voting requirements. 

I also heard recently, but can't vouch for it, that there's a fine for not voting in Australia that works out to about $50.

I think I read this somewhere, too.  I guess we're both too lazy to look it up.

I may write about voting tomorrow night. If I do, may I link to your piece?  (Sure.)  I always remind my Boy Scout Troop the night before an election to ask their parents to vote.  I'm still enough of an idealist that I ask people to vote even when I'm sure they disagree with me.

Did you happen to see the comic strip Mallard Fillmore today? There's something I agree with completely! Funny because it's true.

I'm more of a Dilbert fan and had never heard of Mallard Fillmore.  I'm assuming he meant the one that said:

"With only two days left in the campaign, the latest polling data show that 92 percent of registered voters now say they'll scream if they hear any more polling data.  While 84 percent say pollsters should be eaten alive by gerbils."

In Dilbert, it would have been "weasels," but the sentiment would probably be echoed.

National Geographic Channel SETI Program

In an unusual foray into teevee watching, I saw a program last night about SETI.  All the usual suspects were interviewed and a lot of ancient (1950s) and current science goodies were shown.  Paul Shuch sang the SETI League Anthem, and a good time was had by all.  I rarely see people I have heard of on television.  I almost never see people I actually know, so this was quite a treat.  I'm sure it will be rerun.  (In fact, this may have been a rerun.  How would I know?)  Catch it if you can.


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