To begin, I want to give full disclosure that I am far from an authority on the topic of politics, but my purpose of this post is to shed some light into what I believe is an epidemic of voter negligence. I am a proponent of parents of children being the primary voice of instruction about government, with secondary support from the local school system.
One could argue that this election’s primaries and caucuses are the highest in decades (since 1972). This leaves me to wonder, is that a good thing? I am going to argue “no”. Don’t hear me wrong on this, I see voting as each U.S. Citizen’s civic duty to support government by staying current with what’s going on in Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) as well as in State and Federal Supreme Courts. As issues arise, new ways of dealing with these challenges become priority and often set new precedents that can effect many more decades later. Case in point, on December 13, 1971, the United States Supreme Court began hearings on a case we commonly know as “Roe v. Wade”. In 1970, President Richard Nixon nominated Harry Blackmun to the Supreme Court. “Blackmun, a lifelong Republican, was expected to adhere to a conservative interpretation of the Constitution.” However, five short years later, Blackmun began to side more with William J. Brennan, the Court’s leading liberal. “In 1973, Blackmun authored the Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade, invalidating a Texas statute making it a felony to administer an abortion in most circumstances.”
Why does all of this even matter? How does this play into how I vote almost 45 years later after Roe v. Wade?
Maybe a more specific question would be, why did Nixon choose/”vote” Blackmun as Supreme Court Justice? Digging a bit deeper yields the reality that he was President Nixon’s fourth choice after three previously failed attempts at nominating other Court Justices. Could it be that Nixon was voting out of desperation? Blackmun’s close friend and best man at his wedding, Chief Justice, Warren Burger gave Blackmun as a referral to President Nixon. It sounds to me that this was both desperation and a sort of popularity vote or a “good word” put in by a close buddy. As many of us know, that usually comes back to bite us in the long run. In this “case” (pun intended), I believe Court Justice, Harry Blackmun was not the conservative he was pronounced to be and I also believe that Court Justice, William J. Brennan had a critical influence on how Blackmun interpreted the Constitution. The outcome? 58+ Million “fetuses” have been LEGALLY aborted since 1973.
This is all a hypothetical, but would the case of Roe v. Wade proceedings and ultimate decision have been different had President Nixon done a bit more research on who he nominates to the highest Court in our Nation? I am aware that the vote was a 7-2 majority in favor of invalidating the Texas statute, but the more I look into Blackmun’s impact on the overall case, the more I see a strong liberal bias toward the “right to privacy” (found in the Fourteenth Amendment). This heavily influenced the outcome of the January 22, 1973 Court decision.
Now that I’ve hopefully laid the need for researching each candidate thoroughly, I’d like to point your attention to our current voting situation. Yes, these are the primaries and not the ultimate decision as to whom will govern this great Nation, but I would like to use the same litmus test for nominating our Presidential candidates as we do our Supreme Court Justices. As it stands, all that is needed to vote is a valid State ID. One could argue and give excuses as to what is “valid” – “Yes that’s me. I just gained a few pounds since this photo was taken.” That may be a bit harsh and perhaps shaming to some, but the level of deceit of mankind has no bounds. I’m not going to focus on that though.
Would it be such a bad thing if, in order to vote for anything or anyone, you would need to be able to pass a simple test, identifying a basic understanding of the Constitution, how government functions and the roles each person is obligated to fulfill? I know that this would make voting an exclusive thing, but I also believe that this would give each voter more of a desire to do their “homework” before they vote “straight party” or vote for whoever appears to be leading in the polls.
Let me explain more clearly my concern for the higher voter turnout this election. If you’ve noticed, each of the candidates have been personally attacking each other since early Fall of 2015. This is not uncommon for politicians. However, the manner in which they are doing it is in fact different. For example, Donald Trump has hundreds of sound bites that are dripping of hateful and angry words. He has found the recess in people’s hearts that identify with his sentients. Being a Christian myself, I know that hurling hateful and slanderous words at others who are different than me is breaking many of the Ten Commandments. Trump professes to be a Christian, but the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit is not apparent in Donald’s demeanor towards Muslims, Hispanics, or anyone else who doesn’t agree with “The Don”. I believe since Donald Trump has a “tell it like it is” persona and people see him as “anti-establishment”, they will vote for him based on those qualifications alone. Hilary Clinton has her own persona. She’s different than any other candidate to run for office because she’s a woman. She’s playing that “card” well and it’s having an impact on Bernie Sanders’, who is not a woman. Bernie’s large and unexpected following is centered on, you guessed it; Anti-establishment! Doing a little research on the guy, he’s no rookie to working in government. For 30+ years, Sanders has worked in government on many levels. One asset that Bernie holds over his Democratic opponent is that he was a fairly influential advocate for the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s. His track record for non-violent protest is lengthy and consistent. People like that quality about Bernie.
Can our current voting population be seen as “swing voters”? Are they fed up with both Republicans and Democrats? Are today’s voters looking for something radically different? Are the frontrunners of both parties that revolutionary to sway an undecided voter to choose them as their President? I believe these primaries have shown me that many voters know that their vote matters, but they aren’t educated on how to asses who to vote for. The benchmarks for voting are based on popularity, how “cool” each candidate presents themselves; how extreme their rhetoric comes off, name calling and profanities get votes; sending a false sense of security to the American public, “making Mexico fund the wall” and “bombing the hell out of ISIS”; appealing to a specific race or gender and telling them what their itching ears would like to hear, empty promises, etc.
So where do we go from here? I say, it’s not too late to study up on each candidate, even those who are no longer running for nomination, one I voted for in the Michigan Primary. What major changes in government have taken place during this current administration in the Oval Office? How can the next candidate support or change current Bills in the House of Representatives? Do they have a voting record that supports what they are saying in the debates? Are they prone to change their mind in certain areas? There are so many questions that can be asked, but most politicians won’t give a straight answer or know that the answer they plan to give won’t match up with their previous actions, so they in essence, change the subject by not directly answering the question. Here is a very basic online tool to give basic answers to a series of questions that many Americans have asked a huge variety of politicians. Take the time to use this to see what each candidate said in response to the questions.
Finally, don’t see this as a rant, but more as an encouragement for voters to really press into the importance of researching the candidates and proposals on the ballot. The earlier you start this process, the easier it is, in good conscience to fill in that little oval on your ballot.