CommunityPam's House Blend

As harsh as it sounds, I have to agree with Ted Rall, that there are some citizens that just shouldn’t vote. They are too stupid, uninformed and unengaged.

–“Kerry doesn’t know what the working-class people do; he hasn’t done any physical labor all his life,” Sharon Alfman, a 51-year-old cook in New Lexington, Ohio, told a New York Times reporter. It’s true. Kerry is a rich boy. But then she added: “Bush’s values are middle-class family values.”

George W. Bush earned $727,000 last year. Estimates of his net worth range between $9 and $26 million. Middle class he most assuredly is not. Working class he never has been. Like fellow Skull and Bones member John Kerry, man of the people he never will be. But it matters that Sharon Altman thinks he is. Unless you too are a voter living in a swing state like Ohio, her vote counts more than yours.

Demonstrating that stupefying ignorance can be bipartisan, another Ohioan interviewed for the same article said she is against the war in Iraq because, like 42 percent of her fellow Americans, she thinks Iraq was behind 9/11: “We shouldn’t be over there building them back up because they didn’t build our towers back up.” She is wrong on so many levels that it makes my brain hurt.

…A 2002 poll found that 64 percent of Americans–people whose votes help determine how much you pay in taxes–could not name a single Supreme Court justice. In 2003, 58 percent–people whose votes could elect someone who starts a nuclear war–couldn’t identify a single department of the president’s cabinet. Voters aged 18 to 24, whose recent schooling ought to inspire confidence in their knowledge of basic facts, are especially ignorant. National Geographic says that 85 percent of young American adults can’t find Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel on a map.

The fact that these yahoos are allowed to vote is an abomination. Their ill-considered ballots cancel or dilute those cast by those who do the heavy lifting that makes them good citizens: keeping abreast of current events, researching issues, studying candidates’ positions.

In the Old South, literacy tests were used to disenfranchise blacks. Alternatively, a basic political literacy test should be used to ensure that anyone who picks ESPN over CNN–regardless of race or creed–stays home on Election Day. Prospective voters should be required to answer at least three of the following questions correctly; to give people a fair shot, the test should be published in newspapers a week before an election:

1. Who is the vice president?

2. What is your state capital?

3. Name one of the following: your governor, congressman or one senator.

4. What is the capital of the United States?

5. Name one federal cabinet-level department.

Of course, such a political literacy test would drastically reduce voter turnout. On the other hand, those who pass could take comfort in knowing that they’re not competing against the 60 percent of Americans who think we’ve found Iraq’s imaginary WMDs, or the 22 percent who “believe” that Saddam Hussein used such weapons against U.S. troops during the 2003 invasion.

Amen.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding