Denver Bar Association
November 2000
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Leave Voting to the Educated

by Doug McQuiston


Are you more informed than an MTV voter? Take the test.
By Doug McQuiston

By the time you read this, election day will be just around the corner. You've seen the presidential debates. You've watched the spinmeisters. Maybe you've even looked at the "sample ballot" the League of Women Voters sent you. O.K., maybe not.

The Docket will not be endorsing candidates. We couldn't even if we wanted to. The political range of this bunch is so wide, we would start slinging pizza at each other at our meetings before we ever agreed on an endorsement. Nobody needs to see that. In fact, our esteemed Docket editors gave me explicit instructions that this article was not to include any of my "Republican bias." (That means I can't point out that Al Gore, only last year, referred to our nearly impeached current chief executive as "the greatest president of our century," or that gasoline will hit three bucks a gallon in year one of the Gore administration--I have to obey my editors.)

I can, however, provide some guidance to you "undecided" voters out there. You know who you are. Even now, just days before the election, your thoughts are still being formed. You don't know if you're even going to vote, much less for whom you'll vote. Maybe you still don't know exactly where you're even
supposed to go to vote or how the little buttons on the voting machine work. For you, I'll get right to the point: For God's sake, don't vote!

At the risk of being judged dangerously politically incorrect, let me make something clear:

Supermarket voter registration booths, MTV's "Choose or Lose" and any effort to get those who shop at American Furniture Warehouse to register to vote, are a threat to the republic. Anything that makes it easier for ill-informed, couch-bound doofuses to turn out on election day is bad for America.


"I know it's fun to go to an MTV 'Choose or Lose' concert, but do we really want some 18-year-old kid voting a slate based on what Kid Rock says?"

I'm not talking about the historic voter's rights movement of the 1950s and '60s. That great effort got the disenfranchised, but eager, voters safely to the polling places against great odds. Those voters were prepared to vote, because they literally risked their lives to pull the lever. Did their votes count? Ask Joe Smitherman, the ex-incumbent mayor of Selma, Ala. In 1965, Joe loosed dogs and firehoses on voters' rights demonstrators. This year, he was voted out of office in favor of James Perkins, a 47-year-old African-American computer consultant. Sixty percent of Selma's voters are now African-American. You bet those votes counted, though it took 35 years.

No one could criticize such efforts. What I disagree with are efforts to get out the ignorant vote. A participatory republic, such as ours, relies on an informed electorate to function at its best. A well-cast vote takes work. Only those who make an effort, every day, to get and stay informed deserve the franchise. Every time someone who thinks politics is B.S., who gets his news only from MTV or Howard Stern, or who votes for the guy who looked better on Oprah, gets behind the curtain and throws the switch, Thomas Jefferson spins in his grave.

Too many voters already do not understand how our government works. Many think it is really neat when they get "government money;" too many already look to the Feds as their daddy or mommy. They have long since forgotten that the government is us, that it has no money except what it takes from us, and there is no such thing as a "free" government check. They have forgotten there are problems that the federal government can't, or shouldn't, fix.

When a candidate comes along and promises each of us a bigger check just to get elected, the ill-informed are way too quick to fall in line behind him, unaware they are being demagogued because they understand neither history nor civics. The same holds true for the "single issue" voter, who drops the lever based on what their guy says about their pet issue, never mind how scary the rest of his political agenda might be.

As long as the informed voters outnumber the uninformed, elections can't be swayed by demagogues on either the left or the right-- the idiots on both sides cancel each other out. What worries me is that in recent elections, the doofus count has risen to dangerously high levels, driven in no small part by well-intentioned, but stupid, "get out the vote" drives. I know it's fun to go to an MTV "Choose or Lose" concert, but do we really want some 18-year-old kid voting a slate based on what Kid Rock says?

To help you decide if you should turn out on Nov. 7 or not, here's a short quiz. Give yourself a point for each question you get right. If you score a 7 or higher, congratulations! You can go vote. Otherwise, do us all a favor and stay home:

  1. T/F: Al Gore, if elected, will personally send me a check to pay for my prescription drugs--hell, maybe even my non-prescription drugs. After all, he invented the Internet, so he must be a really rich dude.

  2. T/F: The federal government has a huge stockpile of free money, called the "surplus," which it won by hitting all the numbers on Powerball.

  3. T/F: The "gun-show loophole" is a certain kind of pistol target that we should all use to sharpen our aim.

  4. T/F: If George W. Bush is elected president, my kid's grades will improve.

  5. T/F: We all owe our jobs and 401K balances to Bill and Hillary Clinton. God Bless them!

  6. T/F: Even though I'm under 40, Social Security will have plenty of dough to pay me, by golly, because they promised they would "fix it."

  7. T/F: On the local level, I'm going to vote for that state senate candidate named "Bob," cuz that's my name too, and I think that's cool.

  8. T/F: Whatever Doug Bruce likes, I like, because that boy is one smart cookie!

  9. T/F: The best reason to vote in the morning is because they usually have donuts at the polling place then.

  10. T/F: I'm voting for Al Gore, cuz I think "Love Story" was one of the best movies I ever saw!

Those of you who scored 7 or better have probably figured out the correct answers were all "F." I'll see you at the polls. Come early or the donuts will be gone.

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