Your Duty As a Responsible Citizen

Responsible citizens vote. In some European countries citizens are required by law to vote. Many — most — American’s don’t vote. The more one witnesses the awesome power of corporate TV ads, the more one suspects non-voting Americans might not be such a bad thing. 

On June 8th, Californians will vote on party primaries and several Propositions. These referenda have lately become the favorite method of corporations to influence public policy: buy yourself a law that improves your market share and annual profits. There’s one on Tuesday that’s been constructed by and paid for ($50 million so far) Pacific Gas & Electric. The Proposition would do virtually the opposite of what the TV ads claim it will do. But those who form their political opinions without reading anything — i.e., the unintelligent — won’t know this and will likely pull the wrong lever thinking that they’re choosing right. When elections are decided by people who don’t even know what they’re voting for, maybe those of us who do know what we’re voting for — i.e., the reasonably intelligent — would be better off if voter turnout was low. Or nonexistent.

Like so many other areas of our society (entertainment; food; medicine), marketers of political products cynically sell uninquisitive consumers crap they don’t need. But unlike Justin Timberlake records, double gordita crunches, and bi-annual dental visits, when the uncritical vote in public elections their ignorance affects all of us.

Undemocratic as it sounds, if you haven’t done your homework before casting a ballot and you want to be a responsible citizen, stay home and watch your TV.

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