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How Dumb Do We Have to Be?

To vote, that is.

by Barnabas
October 23, 2002

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How Dumb Do We Have to Be?_Barnabas-To vote, that is. Anonymity, even an unguarded anonymity like mine, has its downside. I can’t be as specific as I would like to be when it comes to state or local matters without blowing the little cover I have.

I’ll limit myself to saying that I hope your state is enjoying a higher level of political campaigning than ours is. Our race for governor, between two supposedly qualified and experienced candidates of the major parties, has been consistently nasty for several weeks now. I say “supposedly” because their hiring of the political consultants and advertising agencies they have used calls into question both their intelligence (the absurd aspect of this column) and their moral integrity (the ethical aspect). The campaign theory appears to be that the candidate who gets the last dirty punch in before election day is going to win. The dirty punches even lack humor. They are simply mean.

We used to speak of “taking the high road.” When you take the high road, you engage the candidates who are taking the high road with you; you don’t have to join those who take the low road and allow them to set the tone. You don’t even say “I’ll take the high road if you will”; inherent in taking the high road is the willingness to take it alone. It may be full of potholes, but it is not the sinkhole that the low road has become.

It’s too late for the high road in this campaign this year. Both candidates are mired in the low road and slugging it out; neither of them is too attractive right now. As a voter I am sorry that they were not smart enough to avoid this disaster. I am also offended that they think I am dumb enough to want to join either of them in the sinkhole.

Their campaign has raised the question of how dumb they expect me to be. I would have to be very dumb indeed to pay much attention to the content of their attack ads. Certainly they want me to be too dumb to think, and would rather I voted on the basis of the selfishness, bigotry, and suspicion targeted by their ads.

I don’t think I will. I’ll probably do as most voters will, and vote by default for the candidate of my traditional party affiliation. This is to say that the campaign was a waste (In the past, perhaps half the time since 1960, I have voted in the governor’s race for the candidate of the other party. I thought about a third candidate who has name recognition but no statewide experience (Jesse Ventura comes to mind). My rejection of his candidacy is at least based on philosophical issues; I had to think about it, which apparently I am not expected to do as a Republican or Democrat.

Maybe, out there somewhere, a viable third party is being born—or at least some political consultants who know what they are doing.

Comments (1)

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James Leroy Wilson from Chicago writes:
October 23, 2002
Dear Editor,

There is yet another option for Barnabas: not voting. It is not a shirking of civic duty to refuse to choose between two bad options. To vote for one of the candidates will just encourage him - he won't know the difference between his enthusiastic supporters and the reluctant, because each vote counts only once.

But if you don't vote, you have no right to complain. That would be valid only for those who preferred one candidate over the other but were to lazy to vote. To withhold one's support from an immature brand of politics may actually be the more patriotic option.

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