One of the age old debates of elections is whether the American populace is intelligent enough and sufficiently informed on public policy issues to make an informed decision as to which candidate is best suited for political office. (Grace Rongcal-Valera, Ashford University)
This is a great question, are American voters qualified to decide? A quick answer would be NO, however, you must take into the question what is the vote about. Today voters have all sorts of ways to become informed. The incumbent politician counts on the average voter having a very short term memory. The average voter votes their pocketbook. Clinton was very in tune to this concept. At his campaign headquarters his motto was (Clinton) “In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned with the motto “It’s the economy, stupid,” It is still the
economy. If the economy is good then it will be, helping the poor, or some other way of redistribution of wealth, or something else that the mainstream media says is important, that will affect today’s vote. It will not be what happened 30 days ago or even 90 days ago, and definitely not what happened 500 days ago as in Bush 41 keeping the oil supply lines open. Americans vote, because the guy is likable, looks good on TV, or they vote because this person will give them the most, whatever the voter determines the most to be. Hamilton in Federalist paper 68 said that the people were too far removed and could not make a educated choice for president, which is why we have the electoral college. I do sometimes agree with Hamilton, this is one of those cases.
Many people will actually look at the issues and really listen to what the person says. Today with the ubiquitous internet it is possible to get educated on all the issues and the candidates. But then it is up to the people to read and learn. Thomas Jefferson was adamant that the people must be informed and educated to be able to vote. ”I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” –Thomas Jefferson to W. Jarvis, 1820.
Jefferson goes further to explain that people must be properly educated or we will be nothing more than serfs. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” –Thomas Jefferson to C. Yancey, 1816.
Our schools have failed us, please see my position on education. They no longer teach American Government. 97% percent of Arizona students cannot pass a simple 10 question test on American government, that must be passed by legal immigrants that are becoming United States Citizens. They pass at 97% first try. People have said that American voters need to pass a test before they can be allowed to vote. I agree with this and that test should be the basic citizenship test from the INS.
We have the tools today to make the people better informed. The voter must put some effort forward to get informed. Voting whether a person has a “D” or and “R” after their name is displaying a total void of formulistic reasoning. There has been a lot of legislation to attempt to force morality on people but, it has always failed, just like morality you cannot force a person to get smart. Legislation will not work. A person must want to get informed themselves. There is an old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. Therefore a person must pass a basic citizenship test before being allowed to vote.
Clinton, Bill. (2011) U>S>NEWS. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/06/20/bill-clinton-s-ideas-to-get-america-back-to-work-and-revive-the-economy.html Retrieved 28 June 2011