Friday, December 21, 2007

Why Aren't We Participating in our Participatory Government?

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -Plato

It is very interesting how amazingly advanced we have become in regards to having the option of being an informed citizen. As a result of the internet and readily available information, if a citizen decided to look at the candidates that are out there they can, within seconds find loads of valuable information.

While sites like Smart Voter have been around since 1996, they have relatively not changed in the past decade.

These days, not only is there loads of information readily available, the information is easy to access and also understandable. Some sites provide information and brief synopsises about candidates' policy (in this case, energy), backing them up with interviews of the candidates, while others give side by side comparisons of policy (in this case, health care).

Since it is amazingly quick and easy to find this information, i find that there is absolutely no excuse for an uninformed populis, especially since internet is free in libraries across the country. The problem lies with the cattle theory. This is basically stating that the majority of Americans would rather not have to deal with these types of decisions and would rather just be told. This is how networks like fox news survive; they make it simple. "Don't vote for Obama because he will spend your money and support the terrorists." Things are never that simple but the American people are placated by the fact that this information is quick and easy. They remain ignorant because they are apathetic.

The reasons for this apathy are far reaching and numerous but it is nothing new. Try reading "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" by Thompson. There he writes about, and in almost verbatim rhetoric to today, the plight of the uninformed apathetic youth and african american community.

But what then is the answer? Compulsory voting? Extra Rights associated with voting? Poll tests? Perhaps the best answer is that if the majority of the uninformed populis is also apathetic, then that is for the best. If the people who are uninformed don't vote, then they don't affect policy, which is probably a good thing.

Personally i would like to see a more educated and informed population, but either that is impossible or long in coming.