All the more reason to do your homework. We won’t have a qualifying exam to vote anytime soon, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that whoever wins it was because an informed public made an intelligent choice?
Peter and I made the decision early on that we didn’t want this blog to be political even in a political season. Our focus is entrepreneurship and business. However, given what’s going on in the campaigns, especially in the last few weeks, I had to weigh in, but in a non-political way. What that means is I won’t make a case for one candidate or the other. What I will make a case for is that voters should be informed before they can vote. If fact, just to be provocative, maybe we should consider a qualifying exam to vote. Let me explain…
Howard Stern had a staffer hit the streets recently to ask people what they had thought of the debate the previous night. Great, except that there was no debate the previous night; yet, the people interviewed had plenty of points of view about how effective or ineffective the candidates were, going into some detail on what they had said. In fact, they sounded so confident that there had been a debate the previous night that I wondered if I hadn’t missed one (I hadn’t). Jesse Watters, a Fox News staffer, went out to interview people about what they knew about America. One of the questions was, “From which country did we separate to become the United States?” The three young college students he found on the beach had no idea. “Did we break off from another country?” they giggled. Watters followed up with several other questions about key events in the news and no one in the vicinity knew anything about what was going on in the world.
While I’m sure most people found these “man on the street” interviews hilarious (I have to admit I laughed), I found them frightening to think that the most consequential election we’ve had in my lifetime may be decided by a public that is largely uninformed.
If I were to ask most people how they’re going to make the decision about whom to vote for (and I have asked that question in my classes), more than a few would say that they’ll depend on their favorite news sources: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. While I find these two comedians hilarious, they are hardly the type of source I would go to for such an important decision.
My frustration over how little many people know about what’s going on and how little effort is put into finding unfiltered facts about issues led me to think that maybe people ought to have to pass a qualifying exam on current issues to be able to vote. After all, entrepreneurs have to pass a qualifying exam of sorts before they get the vote of the investors, and I’m not sure that vote is as important as voting for the next President. In fact, I’m sure it’s not. Realistically, my idea is going nowhere because it would require people to actually do some research before they vote so they know why they’re voting for whomever they choose. What a concept!
In this highly divisive election season, I think Jay Leno got it right when he said, "Experts say the entire 2012 election could come down to just eight states. The states are: confusion, dismay, depression, apathy, shock, disbelief, despair, and anxiety. Those are the eight states."
Unfortunately, these states will result no matter who gets elected.
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