Most of these weekly columns are filled with my pointless ramblings about topics of which I know little or nothing. Remarkably, this is NOT one of those weeks.
This week I’m writing about politics… the one topic that I actually know something about. (Not as much as I think I know, it turns out… but when you’ve been practicing politics for over half-a-century, some of it has to stick.)
Politics is, of course, the topic EVERYBODY knows something about, because, at the end of the day, it’s nothing but everybody’s opinions all rolled together into a big giant imaginary ball.
The reason politics is on my mind is because we have an important Election Day coming in just a few weeks: June 10th, to be exact.
I know what you’re probably asking yourself: “Didn’t we just do that a couple of months ago?”
Or maybe you’re thinking: “I thought that was in November!”
The election coming up is South Carolina’s state and local primary election, where the two parties choose their nominees to compete against each other in the November General Election. (This is not to be confused with the Presidential primary elections which have been ongoing across the nation this year, with our state’s GOP and Demo contests being held in January, so as to be ahead of most other states in the lineup.)
Here are two key facts about the upcoming June primary elections:
1. Most races are really decided in primary elections, not November general elections.
2. Most people don’t vote in primary elections.
In 2006, which was South Carolina’s last primary election, a whopping 11% of the registered voters showed up to vote in the Republican contest, while 6% chimed in on the Democratic side.
Most media observers lament those low voting percentages as worrisome, distressing, upsetting, and generally an indication that government as we know it is about to fall into shambles.
Not me. I think its fine that only a handful of people vote. It makes the voting power of the small percentage of folks who DO vote that much greater.
Also, I happen to believe that a lot of people don’t vote simply because they’re happy with things the way they are. And why not? This is America, where the biggest problem many people have is keeping track of which of their seven remote controls operate which of the 23 electronic devices they have in their $240,000 three-story homes.
I think it’s a mistake to force people to vote if they really don’t have a strong opinion. When that happens, we end up with government by coin-toss. Or worse, we end up always re-electing incumbents because their names are better known, and voters who don’t have strong opinions typically vote for the names they know best.
Which is not to say I don’t want people to participate… I do. I always encourage voters to take the time to go to the polls and vote… after they have taken the time to become acquainted with the candidates, their qualifications, and their positions on the issues.
But if you’re not going to spend the energy to make an informed decision, I say just don’t bother. When you toss a coin, you just might be the vote that elects the wrong candidate! (Incidentally, this is my personal opinion… and I will point out that it is shared by very few of my friends and acquaintances in the political arena. None that I can think of, in fact! Just me!)
Which brings me to the point of today’s lecture. Because I know that NOBODY is going to heed my advice, and there will be countless thousands of voters in voting booths who have absolutely no business choosing their own toothpaste, let alone choosing our elected leaders, I thought I would try to offer a helpful guide, which I’m calling:
“The Top Ten Signs You’ve Picked a Bad Candidate”
10-- Campaign theme song is “Freebird”, accentuated by a loud “Vote for me, I’ll set you free” at the end of each line.
9--While knocking on doors to meet voters, also tries to sell subscriptions to “your choice of over 200 quality magazines”.
8-- Official campaign colors are Red, White, Blue and Fuschia.
7-- Refuses to participate in debate; instead, issues challenge to opponent to participate in a televised game of “rock, paper, scissors.”
6-- Was caught by news media using an illegal immigrant as his campaign manager.
5-- New campaign slogan is: “Will work for food”.
4-- In every debate, answers all questions by alternating the same two answers over and over: “Let ‘em eat cake!” or “Let’s drop the big one!”
3-- Wife and kids have taken to wearing bags over heads, and always leaving home by the back door.
2-- Offers you a giant magic marker as you are entering the polling place “to make sure your vote counts”.
1-- Tells you the only “change” he’s interested in is “your spare change! Gotta quarter?”