Wednesday, July 23, 2003
No Patience for the Ignorant
I have no patience – absolutely zero – for ignorance. Most especially if it’s borne of laziness. I’m a big believer in doing your homework, turning over rocks, chasing down a lead, and ultimately, making informed decisions. This applies to planning a vacation, purchasing a bike/CD player/computer/car, getting long (or short) a stock, etc.
It especially applies to voting in National election.
I felt a weird mixture of amusement and annoyance of a new website which popped up: RepentantNaderVoter.com.
The author, like many other voters in the 2000 election, voted for Nader because they claimed they "perceived little difference" between the 2 parties:
“Before the last election, we agreed that the Bush Administration would look much like the Gore Administration.”
This is a frighteningly ignorant statement; Yes, its true that the parties have moved closer together in the middle of the political spectrum. Both parties have an exceedingly open ear to to corporate interests, especially those that write large campaign contribution checks. That said, there has not been two candidates from the Dems/Repubs more different than the Gore-Bush battle in the 2000 election. This was a left right battle the likes of which had not been seen since the Reagan-Mondale race in 1984.
That people this delusional are allowed to vote – indeed, were instrumental in electing a President – has forced me to reconsider my views on installing a philosopher king/benevolent dictator.
Before proceeding any further, understand this: I’m a registered Independent; I have to be, otherwise it impacts my performance professionally. Jingoistic money managers who cheerlead one party or another eventually get slaughtered in the markets. I cannot afford the luxury of partisanship, so I force myself to read all sides of an issue, and fully evaluate candidates.
If you must know, I’m a libertarian; I believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility (See "Taking Responsibility"), within the framework of a free-market economy. I'm against governement intervention in both the marketplace and the bedroom. I guess that makes me fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I have a natural contrarian streak that often puts me at odds with whoever is occupying the White House. I’m more pragmatic than dogmatic. Call it results oriented.
I’ve agreed with some stuff Bush has done (everyone affiliated with the market loves any capital gains tax cut), and disagreed with others. I thought we should invade Iraq (see this report), but not for any of the publicly stated reasons. I like encouraging corporate dividends; However, it should have been done on a corporate level, rather than carving out a unique individual income tax bracket for dividends. Thus, we replaced one odd tax permutation with another.
All that said, it’s simply incredible to me that anyone could claim to see little differences between the two candidates in the 2000 election. I don’t expect many people to do all the “homework” I do (i.e., See Popular Loss, Electoral Victory?), but they should at least have a passing familiarity with the issues. On most of the major campaign platform planks, Gore and Bush had very, very different positions. Look at Governor Bush’s record in Texas, look at Senator Gore’s record from Tennessee; This was a race between a classic Liberal vs a classic Conservative. Perhaps if you were living in a cave prior to 1999 you had an excuse for failing to see that basic truth.
Sure, the spin was that Gore was a technophile, while Bush was a "compassionate conservative." If you looked past the spin, the differences were damned obvious -- this was a race between two very different men.
Say what you will about Gore and Bush voters, at least they understood where there candidate stood, and cast their vote accordingly. Not so, apparently, with Nader voters. Theirs was a vote not for a candidate, but for a concept.
Here we are 2 1/2 years later, Summer 2003. Sure, a few things about the Bush Administration were surprising – 9/11 was a surprise, Ashcroft getting appointed was a stunner, the record of soon to be departing FCC Commish Michael Powell was also. But Bush . . . well, Bush was Bush. If you understood his background, followed his career, looked at his record, then you can’t really be all that surprised at who he is or what he’s done.
Along comes this group of voters who belatedly are regretting their cavalier ways. Voting is serious business. These guys didn’t take it that way.
Hey, that’s the history of 3rd party voting in the modern United States: You are simply throwing away your vote. We do not have a parliamentary system; We haven’t had viable 3rd party President since Millard Fillmore was a elected as a Whig, serving from 1850-53. Want your vote to matter ion a two party system? It’s a Democrat or a Republican. Period
Do your research . . . Choose wisely . . . Vote for the candidate who is closest to your belief system. The more ambitious of you can join the party of your choice, and influence them from within. If the far right wing of the GOP scares you, fight the policies of the religious zealots. If the left wing of the Democrats frightens you, move the party away from control of the unions.
At least do some research before voting. Look beyond the headlines as to who the 2 candidates are. If all that seems like too much work, well, you have a third option: You could always waste your vote.