When voter apathy is a good thing

It has become a commonplace in American political discourse to lament the number of people who do not vote, and to see increased voter participation as a panacea for our political problems. I beg to differ. There are already enough ignorant, ill-informed people voting as it is. We need more like we need the proverbial hole in the head.

The front page of today’s Santa Fe New Mexican announces, “Disenchanted Dems to launch PAC for Lass,” referring to Rick Lass, Green Party candidate for Public Regulation Commission. Why are Democrats backing a Green instead of their own guy? Because their own guy is Jerome Block, Jr. The article quotes Santa Fe Democratic Party ward chairman Bernie Logue y Perea as saying,

“I’ve had people come up to me saying, ‘Hey Bernie, we’re pissed off because we voted for Jerome thinking it was the dad, and not the kid. The kid’s an idiot.’…When I saw Rick Lass was running, the thought of (Block Jr.) walking into a $90,000 a year job when he doesn’t deserve it just infuriated me.”

Maybe that’s how my home state of California got saddled with “Governor Moonbeam” back in the ’70s — people thought they were voting for Pat Brown (Edmund G. Brown, Sr.) instead of Jerry (Edmund G. Brown, Jr.)?

Personally, I think we have enough stupid people voting already. Okay, maybe not stupid, but at least uninformed, or simply too lazy to find out who is running for public office and what the qualifications and positions of the candidates are. I realize political literacy tests smack of elitism, and that they conjure up the specter of the old Jim Crow South, where such tests were used to keep blacks from exercising their constitutional rights. If such tests could be administered fairly, however, they might not be such a bad idea. In the case of the PRC race, it would have saved the Democrats from being saddled with a candidate whom Democrats themselves consider an idiot.

Comments 1

  1. Sandra Tatum wrote:


    Your writing talent is really amazing. Look out NYT freelancers because there’s a new writer to pay attention to and she’s capable of moving into a national position overnight.


    Posted 21 Aug 2008 at 3:35 am

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    […] cares more about sports and reality shows than about good government, so until we reinstate political literacy tests again we’re stuck with this sort of […]

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