“Voting is a right best exercised by people who have taken time to learn about the issues.” – Tony Snow
After the first debate of the 2016 election cycle ended, and the media rushed the candidates for post-debate interviews, Carly Fiorina made a remark while speaking with Chris Matthews that struck me. Fiorina, whose debate performance was a masterclass in how to make everyone else completely forgettable, mentioned that only fifty percent of Republican voters even know who she is.
I’m neck-deep in politics every day—not just because it’s my job, but because I like it and believe it’s incredibly important—but many Americans are not as politically aware. Most Americans have a casual relationship with politics and voting; only really beginning to pay attention during the closing weeks of an election.
During the 2012 election, only 57% of eligible voters went to the polls. 43% of people who were eligible to vote simply stayed home. Combine the lack of voters with the overall disinterest in politics, and you can see why a corrupt system has developed.
We allow weeds to grow and then we complain that our garden is ugly. It’s our fault that the weeds have taken D.C.
The job we have isn’t difficult. Our task is to discern who is good and who is not so good. I talk to people every day who say they’ve given up on politics. I generally follow that up by asking them why they’ve thrown up their hands, and the answer is invariably something along the lines of “the whole system is corrupt,” or “all politicians are crooks and liars.”
This mantra is a popular one. You know why it’s popular? Because it’s easy. If we dismiss the whole system, we can let go of our responsibility; we can rationalize our dereliction of duty. We’ve become a people who would rather watch Netflix or play video games than do even a modicum of candidate research. You don’t have to be a political obsessive like myself to be well-informed.
A society of ill-informed people becomes increasingly damaged because it’s leaders aren’t held accountable. An ill-informed and uninterested people allow corruption to spread like a cancer by not taking the time to properly vet candidates, allowing corrupt or incompetent politicians to win elections. The cycle continues, and the corruption becomes more entrenched.
Carly Fiorina shouldn’t have name recognition problems—she’s been in the race since May. More than that, voters should know what she stands for, and why. It’s not that hard to look to a person’s record of accomplishment or lack thereof, and get a sense of their ideals, moral compass, and potential to lead.
This isn’t just a Fiorina problem either; this is widespread. An uninformed people are at the core of a republic’s downfall.
I have some advice for the uninformed, those who complain about the corrupt system, and the crooked politicians. Lick the cheetos dust off your fingers, log out of Netflix, and do some Googling. Learn the names of the politicians running, study up on their policy positions, then get out there and vote for the good guys.
You’re the ones who are holding us back, not the politicians.