Should I vote when I am unfamiliar with the issues?
Every other year we are subjected to a national election. It is the price we must pay for our liberty and our republic. Freedom is not a normal human experience. Most of humanity never had it. There are always those who would rule us tyrannically. Once empowered, they normally rule for life and it takes bloodshed to get rid of them.
Unlike people of most countries, we have the opportunity to turn away those who would undermine our personal liberty or limit our free speech: those who want to “forcechange” our government from a republic to a democracy and finally to socialism; those who do not value or understand the Constitution but still wish to rule over us; those who encourage politics of confrontation and intimidation; those who do not honor our border, even encouraging illegals to break it down. We have empowered enough of these types.
Theoretically, just one ignorant generation or one collective “bad vote” could lose it for all of us for generations to come. For most, filling out a ballot and the weeks involved in studying the issues and voting intelligently is not fun, but is a small price to pay for liberty.
With time, we forget the price our forefathers paid for us to have more personal liberty than any other civilization in world history and the prosperity that emanates from a people free from excessive government. As a political science professor, I often advocated a field trip living for a time under The National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZI), yes socialism, under Adolph Hitler, or under socialism as practiced in the USSR by Joseph Stalin, or socialism under Fidel Castro in Cuba. Or, today, the results of it as practiced in Venezuela.
People fled these coun-
tries to have what we have. One could not publicly condemn their leaders, distribute Bibles or attend church without being arrested, tortured and given long prison sentences. Our veterans died in foreign lands protecting us from socialism. Now politicians bring it to our doorsteps and we vote for it. My point, freedom is not free, never has been and, worse, can be lost by votes.
So, in future elections, should I vote when I am unfamiliar with the issues? Yes, but only on the issues that you have paid the price to know.
Having said this, it is also true that in some voting categories, such as judges, it is unlikely to be totally informed. These are appointed and uncontested seats. No political ideology preferences are cited. The only way an intelligent voter could discern would be to have been in the candidates’ courtroom as an observer, victim or one accused of a crime. These instances are unlikely for 90 percent of the voting population. Thus there is no shame in leaving voting to those that have had “real” experience.
The county sheriff may be the most important official on the ballot because he is the only elected law enforcement agent standing between you and the federal government. Does he know this and will he choose to protect you should such a clash happen? Few will, but in 2013 most sheriffs in the Western States did stand against the Obama Administration’s attempt to redefine the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Support a sheriff who will protect your constitutional rights!
Some propositions or proposed constitutional amendments, too, are so complex and full of legalese that many voters are not qualified to vote intelligently. Most voters get their views on these issues from 20-second pro or con political ads — hardly reliable sources. In a republic, we hire those we feel to be qualified to understand these deep concerns through elections. For 40 years, I asked my students how many months, weeks, days or hours they studied a proposition. If less than a day, unless you have expertise in the area, why should you feel qualified to have the same power as one who spent months? Leave it blank. Let those who have invested this kind of time make the decision.
Bond issues are complex only in that many people do not associate bonds as debt. If they did, far fewer would be approved. Whatever the bond, largely education, you are agreeing to be taxed for some lengthy period of time. Often these are somewhat dishonest. Those pushing bond issues almost always show the most impoverished circumstances as normal for their districts, thus portraying the children as victims and those who oppose as “against education.” Our culture lavishly funds high-class educational facilities. As an educator, I have not seen a situation where a little “belt-tightening” was not possible. Prepare to be called a heretic, however, if you oppose this “sacred cow.” Finally, there are never any bonds proposed to assist charter or homeschooling, which is increasingly the choice of many parents. These folks are forced to pay for the government schools and home schools.
I hope these suggestions help in future elections. Realize, however, that you may be a better citizen by leaving the things that you have not personally studied blank — otherwise, your vote could make you dangerous to the concepts of a republic, the Constitution and liberty. You do not want to be the one ignorant generation or one collective “bad vote” that lost it for all of us for generations to come.
Harold W. Pease, Ph.D., is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for more than 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit LibertyUnderFire.org.