This story was written by Chris Talamo , The Dartmouth
Ah yes, voting! The font from whence freedom springs forth into our great nation. Without voting, wed still be under the harsh rule of a King George or King Frank of some odd number. Instead we have King Joe Six-Pack and King Joe Plumber, and look this way! A herald approaches with the results of the decisions that our sovereigns made in the ballot box last Tuesday. In Michigan, he hath approved measures to legalize embryonic stem cell research and marijuana for medical purposes. Blessed are we who are privileged enough to live under rule so kind.
Now wait a gosh-darned second here. What does Joe Plumber know about the economic impact that repealing the state income tax will have? What does anyone know about it save economists and perhaps the occasional intelligent, well-read observer? I would have thought that, given the state of our economy, we would have realized that even the so-called experts irreparably damage things sometimes. Surely were not crazy enough to entrust these matters to the common mans whimsy?
Now Im no card-carrying member of the Communist party, but this whole democracy thing has gotten way out of hand. The problem isnt the act of voting so much as what we vote on. Exercising our civic duties to choose our chief executive and our legislators is honorable and admirable the secret to the success of our government. Voting on nitpicky measures the average voter doesnt really understand is the dangerous side of voting. Thats when we have people blindly voting by party lines or their haphazard guess as to what sounds right. Joe Six-Pack doesnt know anything about whether or not gay marriage is undermining heterosexual marriage, or if a bloated ban on abortion with 101 exceptions and stipulations will really protect Americas children. The good news, though, is that we have politicians, lawyers and judges who have years of legal experience and the time to make these decisions carefully.
Surely, this argument sounds sycophantic; what could be wrong with letting the voice of America ring in the halls of our government? Surely we dont want [insert name of favorite political scapegoat] to be making these decisions.
Before you start bashing their profession, note first that most politicians, even President Bush, hold some form of advanced post-graduate degree. This is because running a government is no easy task, especially when it manages over 300 million people and a multitrillion-dollar GDP. Politicians exist to make the tough calls for us based on carefully weighed facts and evidence. Constituents exist to pose these tough questions to their representatives. As long as these two groups keep to their respective roles, a healthy government ensues.
The debacle going on in California concerning gay marriage is the best indication of this. In 2000, California voters approved a measure to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman by a comfortable 60 percent majority. Obviously, though, that was far from the end of the discussion. An endless multitude of bills aiming to legalize same-sex marriage have been killed within the confines of the legislature or at the desk of the Governator. Same-sex marriages were finally approved by the California Supreme Court earlier this year but have since been shut down again by another California proposition, which will likely start this roundabout all over again.
The problem here is not the government but rather overzealous voters. I simply trust the California courts to weigh evidence more carefully than the average voter. True, the sentiments and morals of the courts constituencies should be taken into consideration, but ultimately only career politicians and judges have the time to give these issues the consideration they require. Im not arguing that the people shouldnt have spoken out for or aainst any one of the decisions included in this ongoing debacle. Handing the decision to people who demonstrate no more open-mindedness than a 10-year-old having a tantrum, however, is an obvious mistake.
Theres an alarming sense of self-importance that permeates the American culture today, one that makes every man and woman think they know just as much as their political representatives. I dont know or rightly care how this came about, but its detrimental to our polity. Lets prevent another generation of misrule by King Joe Plumber and let our government do what its paid to do.